My Science Odyssey with Let’s Talk Science McMaster

Learning and play are two sides of the same coin for kids who get a classroom visit from Let’s Talk Science (LTS), a free of charge, national science outreach program. Besides fun, undergraduate and graduate students, who volunteer with LTS, want kids to take away new knowledge and a love for science. LTS volunteers take away their own benefits from the experience too. For example, being routinely bombarded by kid questions teaches them to think…

Continue reading


My Science Odyssey with Let’s Talk Science McMaster

Learning and play are two sides of the same coin for kids who get a classroom visit from Let’s Talk Science (LTS), a free of charge, national science outreach program. Besides fun, undergraduate and graduate students, who volunteer with LTS, want kids to take away new knowledge and a love for science. LTS volunteers take away their own benefits from the experience too. For example, being routinely bombarded by kid questions teaches them to think…

Continue reading


Bats can help scientists track invasive insects

Identifying the arrival of invasive species before they become a problem takes some detective work. Environmental biologists are turning to environmental DNA (eDNA) to monitor species of interest in a similar way to how forensic investigators use traces of DNA at the scene of a crime. In bodies of water where invasive species like Asian carp and the American bullfrog are suspected, minute traces of DNA in a water sample can alert authorities before they are…

Continue reading


Bats can help scientists track invasive insects

Identifying the arrival of invasive species before they become a problem takes some detective work. Environmental biologists are turning to environmental DNA (eDNA) to monitor species of interest in a similar way to how forensic investigators use traces of DNA at the scene of a crime. In bodies of water where invasive species like Asian carp and the American bullfrog are suspected, minute traces of DNA in a water sample can alert authorities before they are…

Continue reading


Mommy why do my feet smell like cheese?

Four-year-olds ask the best questions. When my son asked this I was excited to tell him that similar bacteria live on the human foot as on certain cheeses and that bacteria from human feet, armpits, tears and bellybuttons have in fact been used to make different smelling cheeses for an art-science exhibition by called Selfmade displayed in Dublin a few years ago. He clearly wasn’t so interested…or disgusted as we adults are by this concept.…

Continue reading


Scoliosis, tiny beating cilia and spinal fluid flow

Why do 3% of kids spontaneously develop curvature of the spine during adolescence? This condition of unknown cause is called idiopathic scoliosis. An unexpected disease mechanism has been revealed recently in the journal Science. Developmental biologists from University of Toronto and Princeton University have modelled scoliosis in fish showing that disruptions in the tiny beating projections from the cells lining the spinal canal that help fluid flow through these narrow passages underlie this disease. Theories…

Continue reading


The Gene is a lively and insightful tour through history and into the future of human genetics

The Gene: An Intimate History. By Siddhartha Mukherjee. New York. Scribner. Advance Reader’s Edition. Published May 2016. 541 pages. "Our capacity to understand and manipulate human genomes alters our conception of what it means to be “human”"In this timely book, Dr. Mukherjee gives us a window into his insightful mind as he contemplates the past and future societal impacts that go along with what has and what will be discovered about genes and inheritance. Instead…

Continue reading


Videogames are just what the doctor ordered for some kids in physiotherapy

When we think about children with disabilities we easily imagine doctors, nurses and physiotherapists as part of their team of caregivers, but how about engineers and videogame designers? At Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital it seems engineers are a bit like magical fairies creating possibilities for kids to overcome barriers to do things we take for granted. They design devices that help disabled kids communicate or do cartwheels and they design videogames that make physiotherapy fun.…

Continue reading


Groundhogs help virologists more than meteorologists

Groundhogs in meteorology may not be very scientific, but in virology, the scientific merit of using groundhogs is quite sound.  They’ve become the perfect animal model to study hepatitis B and how it might be better detected and treated in humans. These groundhogs did not need to be genetically engineered in the lab like many animal models for human diseases. In nature they get infected by the woodchuck hepatitis virus. [Groundhog or woodchuck are different…

Continue reading


GMOs and Thier Lack of Appeal

This month Campbell Soup Co. announced that it will put GMO ingredients on its label in the U.S. while other food makers are dragging their feet. It will be interesting to see how consumers respond. Similarly high proportions of Americans (92%) and Canadians (nearly 90%) want GMO labelling but it is questionable how such labels can help consumers make rational decisions about whether GMO labelled products are good for them or not. For one thing…

Continue reading