Science and Nature on Tap (UNtapped online version) is a monthly speaker series that invites everyone to come together and learn from experts in a warm and friendly atmosphere. Speakers range from university professors to local enthusiasts, and address a wide variety of topics in science and nature.
Whether you join us in-person or online, we welcome you to participate and ask questions – it’s free!
[Due to Covid-19 restrictions, all Science and Nature talks are delivered via live online and recorded formats. We will let you know as soon as we are able to gather together again!]
Smart Bioplastics Products
Dr. Prashant Agrawal Chief Scientific Officer Plantee Bioplastics
Plastics have varied application and have become an essential part of our daily lives. The use of the plastics has increased twenty-fold in the past half-century and is expected to double again in the next 20 years. As a global estimate, around 330 million tonnes of the plastics are produced per annum. The production, use and disposal of the plastics emerged as a persistent and potential environmental nuisance. The improper disposal of the plastics ends up in our environment, resulting in the deaths of millions of animals annually and also the reduction in fertility status of the soil. The bioplastics products are manufactured to be biodegradable with similar functionality to that of conventional plastics, which has the potential to reduce the dependence on petrochemicals based plastics and related environmental problems. The talk will focus on Plantee’s innovative technologies to make bioplastics more accessible.
Prashant holds a PhD and MSc in analytical and material sciences from Queen’s University, Canada. He did his undergraduate (Dual BS-MS) from Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, India in Chemistry. His expertise lies in Scientific chemical formulation, experimental design, chemical analysis, engineering analysis, and product design and development. Prashant’s expertise in surface modification and analytical chemistry provides a deeper understanding of the science behind the bioplastic development process.
Otters and Contaminants from the Oil Sands
Dr. Philippe Thomas
Wildlife Biologist, ECCC – National Wildlife Research Centre
River otters are sentinel species of aquatic ecosystem health. In areas like the Athabasca oil sands, environmental loadings of polycyclic aromatic compounds (PACs) and trace elements are increasing in areas of oil and gas extraction. Some of these chemicals have potential to affect reproductive health in river otters. Dr. Thomas’ research is investigating the toxicological impacts of PACs and trace metals on otters and developing unique methods to assess reproductive health.
Dr Philippe Thomas is a wildlife toxicologist at ECCC with significant expertise in the biology of semi-aquatic mammals and migratory birds, field studies, impacts of persistent organic pollutants (POPs), heavy metal exposures and complex mixture assessments. He has more than 10 years of experience working with local stakeholders and Indigenous communities in and around the oil sands and the Canadian Arctic. Additionally, he is the project lead for the Arctic Seabird Monitoring Program, the federal/provincial oil sands monitoring program: hunter/trapper-harvested wildlife and toxicology project, and a community-led waterbird egg collection program part of the St Lawrence Action Plan.
Philippe works extensively with Indigenous communities impacted by resource development projects. Over the last 5 years, his work has focused on establishing chemical profiles of oil and gas contaminants on the feathers and in the organs of migratory game birds and mammals.
Why do Landowners Restore Wetlands, and how does the Community Benefit?
Interim Dean of Arts & Sciences at Clarkson University
The greatest opportunities for conservation of biodiversity and enhancement of ecological services are found on private property. In the St. Lawrence Valley and eastern Lake Ontario region of New York State, over 250 landowners have partnered with governmental agencies to restore and enhance wetlands on their property. What are the objectives of wetland restoration programs for the governmental agencies? Why do landowners chose to restore wetlands? Are wetland restorations similar to natural wetlands in terms of hydrology and water quality? Do they provide quality habitat for wetland-associated plants and animals? Tom Langen and his team’s research aimed at answering these questions, and providing best practices for public-private partnership wetland conservation programs.
Dr. Tom A. Langen is the Interim Dean of Arts & Sciences at Clarkson University. Dr. Langen conducts research on the environmental impact of roads, and on the effectiveness of public-private partnerships for wetland restoration. He leads professional development workshops in Latin America and North America on the environmental impact of roads and other infrastructure, and on wetland restoration. Prof. Langen teaches courses related to ecology, conservation, and animal behavior, and has published pedagogy research on innovative college teaching activities. He is also involved in local river conservation, public access, and village revitalization as a board member of Grasse River Heritage and the St. Lawrence Land Trust.
The Great River Rapport: What’s the State of the St. Lawrence River?
Research Scientist at River Institute
Join us on the 2nd September to learn more about the Great River Rapport. A work framed in the Ohenton Karihwatehkwen (Thanksgiving Address) of the Mohawk Nation, the project is finding ways to communicate the health of the St Lawrence River system through ecological indicators. We will share with you what we have learned about the concerns of the communities along the Upper St Lawrence River, and what information we are gathering to provide answers to your questions.
Leigh has a PhD from the University of British Columbia, and has worked as an ecologist on five continents: Africa, Australia, Antarctica, Europe and North America. Her career started in invertebrate biology, and has expanded to include fisheries science, satellite remote sensing, ecosystem modelling and developing ecological indicators. Leigh currently leads the Great River Rapport – a conversation about the health of the St. Lawrence River – as a Research Scientist at the River Institute.
Standing on the Dock in the Rain: Landscaping your Shoreline Property for Wildlife and Water Quality
Executive Director of Watersheds Canada
Watersheds Canada has been working on freshwater issues for 12 years. They develop programs such as ‘Love Your Lake’ which promotes healthy shorelines for healthy lakes, ‘The Natural Edge’ which is a shoreline naturalization program, Fish Habitat Programs and many others. Barbara King is the Executive Director of Watersheds Canada and she will be presenting at our next Science + Nature UNtapped. She has developed, managed and delivered Shoreline Stewardship Programs across Canada. Join us for an in-depth discussion on what you can do to landscape your shoreline property for wildlife and water quality.
Brian, Bailey and the Bats
Dr. Brian Hickey & Bailey Bedard
Reaserch Scientist at River Institute & MSc Candidate, University of Ottawa
Come hear Brian and Bailey discuss their research about the biological effects of mercury in bats!
Dr. Brian Hickey received his PhD in biology for work on temperature regulation in Hoary bats and he has studied bats in Canada, Mexico, and southern Africa. At the River Institute, his research theme has been how habitat changes impact animal populations. His recent work has focused on recovery efforts for Little Brown Bat populations that have been decimated by white-nose syndrome.
Bailey Bedard is from Ingleside, Ontario and is a MSc candidate at the University of Ottawa where she studies the molecular effects of mercury contamination on bats.
The Aquatic Rollercoaster: How the River’s Ups and Downs Impact Biodiversity
Research Scientist at River Institute
River water level fluctuations are a natural phenomenon that help shape aquatic communities. However, the St Lawrence River (SLR) water levels have been managed for the past 60 years. Join River Institute Research Scientist, Matt Windle, for a talk on what the SLR used to be like and how aquatic life have adapted to the changes over the years. Matt has studied Hoople Bay to see how the biodiversity compares to other sections of the river that do not experience the same severe water level fluctuations and to track seasonal biodiversity changes.
Effects of Legacy Contaminants on the Great Lakes Ecosystem: A Proteomic Approach
Chemistry PhD Candidate at Clarkson University
Emmalyn Dupree is a Chemistry PhD candidate at Clarkson University. Her research includes identifying the effects of legacy chemical contaminants in the Great Lakes on the human proteome. Proteome are all the proteins in the human body and are crucial to normal human functioning and factors in disease. Legacy chemicals come from the manufacturing and use of such things as pesticides, coolants, flame retardant, fertilizers, insulation, etc. Emmalyn’s research is part of a project for the Environmental Protection Agency.
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