Alberta Innovates Bio Solutions (AI-Bio) presented a series of speakers on the morning of May 18, 2012 at the Citadel Theatre as part of its Public Outreach and Impact Innovation sessions, the idea being to entertain and inform stakeholders and the public about the science and innovation at AI-Bio supports. With their slide shows now available, here was the program.
Measuring Ecosystem Services: First up was Mike Kennedy of Green Analytics describing how the extensive data his firm is compiling on land use can lead to comprehensive conservation planning.
Using Genomics to See the Forest and the Trees was quite fascinating. U of A forest tree biology assistant professor Janice Cooke walked the audience through what the scientists have learned about the spread of the dreaded pine beetle through Alberta and eastward, thanks to the little-known genomics of pine tree interbreeding.
What's in Your Food? The Alberta Food Metabolome Project: What if scientists can accurate measure and publically desseminate far more information about the make-up of foods - not just the current fat/ chloresterol/ sodium/ carboyhydrate/ protein currently mandated, and then only on processed foods?
U of A biological and computing science Prof. David Wishart says it's not that far away thanks to metabolomics, the detection and analysis of natural chemicals in any organism. The project is analysing 50 Alberta food products to observe, identify and quantity metabomic "markers" that will tell the consumer far more about what's in food, what's good, what's bad, what to look for in a food for specific purposes ... with the eventual intent, once the science is completely proven, to present the metabolomic analysis of these foods on a public food data base.
Connecting the Dots: What have we learned about the spread of chronic wasting disease in Alberta's wild deer populations? Biological Sciences professor Evelyn Merrill and her team have been looking for clues as to how chronic wasting disease spreads in wild deer populations, using GPS tracking devices to determine where deer congregate. "There are so many unknowns about this disease," she said. "We barely understand it, but we do know it's moving across North America."
A Decade into the Industrial Revolution ... What was it Called? David Bressler executive director of the "Biorefining Conversions Network" and an associate prof in the agricuture, food and nutrition faculty, gave a very interesting talk on both moving technology out of the lab and the academic challenge as industry players enter more and more into the picture. Then he updated the audience on the current state of "industrial biotech" what the scientists are learning about turning oil seed, biomass and grains into fuels and chemicals.
All in all it was a most interesting morning, all the more impressive in that each presenter spoke in English and not technical-ese. Plus they used good illustrations. It was a textbook in good communications.
AI-Bio took the extra step of enlisting former Daily Planet TV show host Jay Ingram to MC the show, and, beforehand, to work with the presenters in polishing their presentations both in style and content. It really showed!
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