Learning to be a Wikipedian teaches students why they can’t cite Wikipedia in their essays

When Wikipedia was launched in 2001, my students soon discovered and started citing its articles. In the early 2000s, when I began to use TurnitIn to analyze student essays and lab. reports, I would sometimes find entire paragraphs lifted from Wikipedia pages. Plagiarism aside, most professors, including me, immediately banned Wikipedia from being cited as a reference. This […]

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Academic technological challenges vary in different parts of the world

Before leaving Toronto for 4 months, I worked pretty solidly over Christmas and New Year to finish as much paperwork as possible. It's still not all done. My preparations also included buying a new laptop, because the excellent MacBook Air that I bought in 2011, was clearly approaching the end of its life. Sometimes it […]

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Hear about the latest UN Climate Change talks on January 4, 2018

In 2009, Annette Dubreuil and I obtained observer status from the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. This not only allowed members of the pan-university organized research unit, the Institute for Research and Innovation in Sustainability (2004-2015), but any and all York University members interested in climate change-related research, education and administration to attend […]

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The City of Vaughan’s Dreamweaver 150 Project Catalyzes Conversations about First Nations & Inuit

Talking Art at the Toronto-York Subway Extension Opening The opening day celebrations for the Toronto-York Spadina Line subway extension were not only a chance to take in exciting new architecture, but also live music and art. The City of Vaughan's Dreamweaver 150 interactive art installation was at the Vaughan Metro Centre station (above & below). […]

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Crowdfunding Science and Scientists Has Its Benefits

A week or so ago, Glen Wright's very funny book, Academic Obscura, finally arrived in the mail. I learned about Glen from his twitter account, and donated in support of his book quite some time ago. Everyone who has ever done research should read Glen's book! I'm incredibly grateful to the people that reached unexpectedly […]

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At long last, the subway to York University has arrived!

I arrived at York University in 1990, to start a job as an assistant professor in Biology. I had just spent six years in England, at the universities of Oxford and Cambridge, doing my doctoral research, and holding a couple of junior research fellowships (post-docs). I was excited to join a modern, new university, because […]

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Countering a Science Communications Failure

The decisions of Associate Professor R. A. Pyron, to write a perspective piece on extinction and biodiversity, and The Washington Post editors, to publish him, with the headline, "We don’t need to save endangered species. Extinction is part of evolution", have produced what I would label, as a rather large failure of science communication. Geological […]

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Researching women botanists in 19th century Ontario brought footnotes back into my life

Investigator-driven research is often highly serendipitous. In high school, I liked history as much as biology, but I'm a fidget, and biology, which is much more action-oriented, allowed me to move more. Also, references were much easier to type for science lab reports and essays, than those fussy footnotes required in history and philosophy. Nearly 40 […]

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What Trees Talk About features the excellent research of Canadian ecologists

I'm always thrilled when one of my colleagues contacts me, to alert me to their research hitting the mainstream media. On November 26th, 2017, CBC's Nature of Things, which is  introduced by Dr. David Suzuki, broadcast an absolutely fabulous documentary on the ecology of Canada's boreal forest: What Trees Talk About. I loved the programme […]

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Growing International Ada Lovelace Day in Canada

In October 2017, professional communicator, and designer of #ThatOtherShirt, Elly Zupko, came to Toronto with her family, to give the 3rd International Ada Lovelace Day Lecture (see her great talk above). International Ada Lovelace Day is one of several initiatives, such as Soapbox Science, founded by women in the last 10 years, with the aim […]

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