June Café Scientifique

Posted by: | June 26, 2017 | Leave a Comment

Dear Café Scientifiquers, our next café will happen on Tuesday June 27th, 7:30pm at The Fairview Pub (898 W Broadway). The format for the night will be a panel discussion on the science behind food allergies.

The Science of Food Allergies

Did you know that some parents go to the emergency room parking lot to give peanut to their infant for the first time? This panel discussion will shed some light on hot topics in food allergy, especially the latest updates on preventing peanut allergy in infants and treating food allergy using oral or patch immunotherapy. We will also discuss interesting topics such as the role of oral food challenges as a diagnostic tool for food allergy, and anxiety in food allergy. This panel discussion is for anyone who is interested in food allergy, especially those without any prior knowledge of food allergy or those who are newly diagnosed with food allergy.


Dr. Edmond Chan, Pediatric Allergist
Dr. Lianne Soller, Post-doctoral Fellow
Ingrid Baerg, Research Nurse
Elaine Hsu, M.Sc. Student

Dear Café Scientifiquers, our next café will happen on Tuesday May 30th, 7:30pm in the back room at Yagger’s Downtown (433 W Pender). Our speaker for the evening will be Dr. Jerilynn Prior, a Professor of Endocrinology and Metabolism at the University of British Columbia, Founder and Scientific Director of the Centre for Menstrual Cycle and Ovulation Research (CeMCOR), Director of the BC Center of the Canadian Multicenter Osteoporosis Study (CaMOS), and a past President of the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research. The title of her talk is:

Is Perimenopause Estrogen Deficiency?
Sorting engrained misinformation about women’s midlife reproductive transition

43 years old with teenagers a full-time executive director of a not for profit is not sleeping, she wakes soaked a couple of times a night, not every night but especially around the time her period comes. As it does frequently—it is heavy, even flooding. Her sexual interest is virtually gone and she feels dry when she tries.
Her family doctor offered her The Pill. When she took it she got very sore breasts, ankle swelling and high blood pressure. Her brain feels fuzzy, she’s getting migraines, gaining weight and just can’t cope. . . .
What’s going on? Does she need estrogen “replacement”? If yes, why when she’s still getting flow? Does The Pill work for other women? What do we know about the what, why, how long and how to help symptomatic perimenopausal women?

Dear Café Scientifiquers, our next café will happen on Tuesday April 25th, 7:30pm in the back room at Yagger’s Downtown (433 W Pender). Our speaker for the evening will be Dr. Sarah Burke, an Assistant Professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy/ Department of Chemistry at UBC.  The title of her talk is:

No Small Feat: Seeing Atoms and Molecules

From solar cells to superconductivity, the properties of materials and the devices we make from them arise from the atomic scale structure of the atoms that make up the material, their electrons, and how they all interact. Seeing this takes a microscope, but not like the one you may have had as a kid or used in a university lab, which are limited to seeing objects on the scale of the wavelength of visible light: still thousands of times bigger than the size of an atom.  Scanning probe microscopes operate more like a nanoscale record player, scanning a very sharp tip over a surface and measuring interactions between the tip and surface to create atomically resolved images.  These techniques show us where atoms and electrons live at surfaces, on nanostructures, and in molecules.  I will describe how these techniques give us a powerful glimpse into a tiny world.

Dear Café Scientifiquers, our next café will happen on Tuesday March 28th, 7:30pm in the back room at Yagger’s Downtown (433 W Pender). Our speaker for the evening will be Dr. Holly Moeller, an Assistant Professor in the Department of Ecology, Evolution & Marine Biology at the University of California, Santa Barbara.  The title of her talk is:

Trade, Borrow, or Steal: How Life Exceeds its Metabolic Potential

Living organisms are fundamentally constrained by their metabolisms: The ways that they get and use energy affect where they can live, how they respond to changing environments, and how they interact with one another. We usually think of metabolisms as fixed, permanent features of each species, fundamentally set by the genes encoded in their DNA. But what if metabolisms could be changed, within an individual’s lifetime, by borrowing (or stealing!) from other species? My talk will describe examples of this “acquired metabolism,” exploring how organisms from microbes to humans to trees extend their metabolisms and transform their ecological roles and evolutionary paths.

Dear Café Scientifiquers, our next café will happen on Tuesday February 28th, 7:30pm in the back room at Yagger’s Downtown (433 W Pender). Our speaker for the evening will be Dr. Makoto Fujiwara, from the ALPHA-Canada group at TRIUMF. The title of his talk is:

What I talk about when I talk about the Universe

Our understanding of the Universe has progressed tremendously since the beginning of modern physics in the early 20th century. However, a recent revolution in cosmological observations, as well as latest results from particle physics experiments world-wide (including those the LHC at CERN) are causing significant agony to particle physicists. In this informal talk, I will first describe the current problems in our understanding of the Universe, including the so-called “fine-tuning” problem. I will then discuss some of the proposed solutions to the problems, including the controversial concepts of the Anthropic Principle and the Multiverse. This talk will likely end with an interactive discussion with the audience on what it means to do science when you cannot repeat the experiment.

Dear Café Scientifiquers, our next café will happen on Tuesday November 29th, 7:30pm in the back room at Yagger’s Downtown (433 W Pender). Our speaker for the evening will be Dr. Michèle Koppes, from the Department of Geography at UBC. The title of her talk is:

Can climate change move mountains?

Climate change is causing more than warmer oceans and erratic weather. It can also change the shape of the planet. Glaciers are a fundamental link between climate and the tectonic and surface processes that create topography. Mountain ranges worldwide have undergone large-scale modification due the erosive action of ice, yet the mechanisms that control the timing of this modification and the rate by which ice erodes remain poorly understood. We find a wide range of erosion rates from individual ice masses over varying timescales, suggesting that modern erosion rates exceed long-term averages by two to three orders of magnitude. We also see that glaciers in Patagonia erode 1000 times faster than they do in Antarctica today. These modern rates are likely due to the dynamic acceleration of these ice masses as air and ocean temperatures warmed and they retreated over the past few decades. The repercussions of this erosion add to the already complex effects of climate change in polar and high mountain regions. Shrinking and accelerating glaciers destabilize slopes upstream, increasing the risk of landslides, and deposit more sediment in downstream basins, potentially impacting fisheries, dams and access to clean freshwater in mountain communities. And the dramatic increase in modern erosion rates suggest that glaciers in the Canadian Arctic, one of the most rapidly warming regions in the world, are on the brink of a major shift that will see them speeding up and eroding faster as temperatures warm above 0ºC.

Michele Koppes is an Assistant Professor in Geography at UBC, a Canada Research Chair Tier II in Landscapes of Climate Change, a faculty affiliate at IRES and a Senior TED Fellow. Her passion is forensic geomorphology: the art of reading landscapes to decipher the forces that shaped them. Her particular expertise is in glaciers, and their impact in shaping mountains and polar regions at a variety of time scales, from last year to the last million years. Her research focus is two-fold: to determine the efficacy of glaciers as agents of erosion, and to determine the climatic and oceanic drivers of glaciations in high mountains and coastal settings. She has current field projects in high places all over the world, from BC to Patagonia, Alaska, the Himalayas, Greenland and Antarctica, where her team combines detailed field observations with numerical modeling of ice-ocean dynamics and glacier mass balance.


Dear Café Scientifiquers, we are pleased to announce that this month’s event will be a collaboration with the American Society of Human Genetics (ASHG).  The café will be held on Tuesday October 18th, 7:30pm in the back room at Yagger’s Downtown, 433 W Pender.  Please note that this date is one week earlier than usual to coincide with the ASHG Annual Meeting.  Our speaker for the evening will be Dr. Ting Wu, from the Department of Genetics at Harvard Medical School. The title of her talk is:

At the intersection of Space and Genetics

Ting (C.-ting) Wu, Ph.D., is a Professor of Genetics at Harvard Medical School. She is also the Director of the Consortium for Space Genetics, the Director of the Personal Genetics Education (pgEd.org) Project, and a recipient of an NIH Director’s Pioneer Award. Her laboratory investigates how chromosome organization influences genome function, inventing and applying technologies for imaging the genome as well as studying how a very puzzling set of sequences, called ultraconserved elements (UCEs), have managed to resist change for a stunning 300 million years. These studies have led her group to consider the potential of their findings for protecting astronauts from the extreme conditions of long-term travel in space. The Wu laboratory also houses the Personal Genetics Education Project, which works to raise public awareness and discourse regarding personal genetics, aiming to make that awareness equal across all communities, regardless of socioeconomic, ethnic, educational, and religious influences.


Special September Event: Et al.

Posted by: | September 6, 2016 | Leave a Comment

Dear Café Scientifiquers, our September event will be a special collaboration between Anecdotal Evidence + Cafe Scientifique Vancouver + Curiosity Collider + Nerd Nite Vancouver.

You like science? You like drinking while sciencing? In Vancouver there are many options to get educated and inspired through science, art, and culture in a casual bar setting outside of universities. There’s Nerd Nite which focuses on nerdy lectures in the Fox Cabaret, Anecdotal Evidence a science based storytelling show, Curiosity Collider which creates events that bring together artists and scientists, as well as us, Cafe Scientifique, the long running series which focuses on one single speaker to engage in discussions while at the bar.

On September 20th from 7-10pm at the Fox Cabaret (2321 Main St), all four institutions will team for the ultimate bar science night, Et al. This show is one night only, and not to be missed, and plus it’s Science Literacy Week to boot!


Jennifer Gardy: Senior Scientist at the British Columbia Centre for Disease Control and occasional host of CBC’s The Nature of Things.

Stacey Hrushowey: Graduate Student at Simon Fraser University, Salmon Researcher.

Cheryl Wellington: Professor, Neuroscience at the University of British Columbia; Bellydancer. Performer for Neural Constellations: Exploring Connectivity.

Sarah Louadi: Graduate Student, Experimental Medicine at the University of British Columbia; Dancer. Performer for Neural Constellations: Exploring Connectivity.

More speakers soon to be announced!

Click here to get your tickets.

Dear Café Scientifiquers, our next café will happen on Tuesday August 30th, 7:30pm in the back room at Yagger’s Downtown (433 W Pender). Our speaker for the evening will be Dr. Greg Bole, from the Department of Zoology at UBC. The title of his talk is:

Titans of the Ice Age: Rise of the Megafauna

The talk will introduce people to some of the biggest members of the Pleistocene megafauna and discuss their evolutionary radiation, including why they were so big, as well as their extinction and possible de-extinction!

Dear Café Scientifiquers, our next café will happen on Tuesday July 26th, 7:30pm in the back room at Yagger’s Downtown (433 W Pender). Our speaker for the evening will be Dr. Jaymie Matthews, a Professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at UBC. The title of his talk is:

Searching for planets that are “just right”

A little more than two decades ago, we knew of only a handful of planets, those in our own Solar System.  As of 14 July 2016, there are about 3400 confirmed exoplanets and thousands more strong candidates.  We live in a revolutionary era for the understanding of the origin and evolution of planets, including our own Earth.

The statistical evidence is mounting that planets are commonplace in the Galaxy.  What about life on those planets? Life on this planet depends on building blocks of complex carbon molecules and the transport medium of liquid water.  Carbon and water molecules are found in interstellar clouds. What about liquid water oceans on alien worlds?

The first step in finding possible abodes for life is to find planets in the Habitable Zones of their stars, whose surface temperatures would allow liquid water.  “Goldilocks worlds” – not too hot, not too cold, but just right for life as we know it.

I’ll give you an update on our census of exoplanets, and the surprises so far.  How many of these are Goldilocks worlds, and what will be the next steps to see if they indeed have oceans and life?

Although there’s one Goldilocks world in our own Solar System, Earth, many are excited by the prospect of microbial life on Mars. I’ll tell you why I’d bet on life being found first not on the dusty surface of the planet Mars, but beneath the icy surface of one of the moons of Jupiter, Europa.  Goldilocks worlds must make room for Deep Habitats in our search for extraterrestrial life.

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