Hosted By: Shauna and David
Sciographies introduces listeners to scientists at Dalhousie University. Each episode explores events in our guest’s life that left an impression powerful enough to lead them to their career in science. Guests will also talk about their research and provide thought-provoking commentary on topics like climate change, cannabis research, endangered species and more.
- Sciographies – Episode 14 – Christine Chambers, Clinical Psychologist Thu, Oct 31, 2019
In this episode, Dr. Christine Chambers tells us about her laser-focus career path and different types of pain. She also shares the motivation behind her deep commitment to science communication and knowledge mobilization.
Dr. Chambers grew up in Halifax, Nova Scotia and knew at 12 years old that she wanted to become a child psychologist. That path began at Dalhousie, a few blocks away from her childhood home, when she took the undergraduate psychology program. Then she finished up her PhD in clinical psychology at UBC and started working as a psychologist, scientist, and professor.
Now Dr. Chambers is a Killam Professor in the Department of Psychology & Neuroscience (Faculty of Science) and the Department of Pediatrics (Faculty of Medicine). She’s a leading figure in pediatric pain management and a member of the Royal Society of Canada’s College for New Scholars, Artists and Scientists.
Her lab is based in the IWK Health Centre and that’s where she churns out evidence-based strategies for helping kids manage pain, while also making sure those strategies are reaching parents, family doctors, and other front-line healthcare providers.
…And here are just a few more titles Dr. Chambers is known by:
- Canada Research Chair in Children’s Pain
- Scientific Director of SKIP: Solutions for Kids in Pain
- Incoming Scientific Director of the C I H R Institute of Human Development, Child and Youth Health
- Sciographies – Episode 13 – Lars Osberg, Economist Thu, Oct 24, 2019
In this episode, we speak with Dr. Lars Osberg, the McCulloch Professor of Economics at Dalhousie University. He discusses economic inequality, insecurity and well-being — topics that have dominated his research career. He also tells us about his experiences studying and working abroad in the early 70s, and how the field of economics has captivated him for so many years.
Dr. Osberg grew up in Ottawa and pursued his undergrad in economics at Queen’s University with a stint at the London School of Economics. After that, he spent two years volunteering with CUSO – Canadian University Service Overseas. That took Dr. Osberg all the way to East Africa where he worked with the Tanzania Sisal Corporation. When he returned to North America, he pursued a PhD in development economics at Yale, which he finished in 1975.
He’s written over 10 books, many of which cover the topic of economic inequality. His most recent is called The Age of Increasing Inequality: The Astonishing Rise of Canada’s 1%. That book landed Dr. Osberg the Doug Purvis Memorial Prize for its contribution to Canadian economic policy… And the prize was awarded by the Canadian Economics Association, an organization Dr. Osberg once led as its president in 1999.
- Sciographies – Episode 12 – Eric Oliver, Oceanographer Thu, Oct 17, 2019
In this episode, we interview Dr. Eric Oliver, an assistant professor and oceanographer here at Dalhousie. Dr. Oliver outlines how climate change is increasing the occurrence of marine heatwaves in the ocean. He also shares his hope for a future where traditional Indigenous knowledge is combined with scientific data to conduct research that has meaningful impact for Northern communities, as he himself is a scientist of Inuit-descent with roots in Rigolet, Nunatsiavut.
Dr. Oliver grew up in Labrador and spent plenty of time enjoying the great outdoors with family. Then he majored in physics and math before building a career in oceanography after doing his PhD here at Dalhousie. Today, Dr. Oliver studies climate modelling, ocean modelling, and marine heatwaves. They’re just like those we experience on land, but instead they impact marine ecosystems. Dr. Oliver is also working on new ocean research projects within, for, and by Inuit communities on the north coast of Labrador.
- Sciographies – Episode 11 – John Gosse, Geologist Thu, Oct 10, 2019
In this episode, we interview Dr. John Gosse, a geologist with Dalhousie University’s Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences.
We discuss growing up in Newfoundland, his adventurous undergrad years studying earth sciences, and how some of his latest research will help us better understand the risk of natural disasters in the Canadian Arctic as global temperatures continue to rise.
Dr. Gosse uses specializes in using cosmic ray Isotope techniques to study how vast landscapes form and change over time. His research has brought him to The Andes, The Rockies, and The Himalayas. He has also explored the lesser known Torngat Mountains in Northern Labrador.
Dr. Gosse spends a lot of time looking far, far into the pasts of massive mountains and glaciers, but his research also contributes to the fundamental science around prediction of natural disasters like earthquakes, landslides, and tsunamis.
- Sciographies – Episode 10 – Megan Bailey, Fisheries Economist Thu, Oct 03, 2019
In this episode, we interview Dr. Megan Bailey, a fisheries economist with Dalhousie University’s Marine Affairs Program. We discuss her artistic hobbies, changing her focus and finding her passion, and what it’s like to work at the intersection of ecological science and social science.
Dr. Bailey grew up in London, Ontario with a love of animals that led her to a zoology degree. She then spent a year studying the behaviour of monkeys in the Suriname jungle, hoping to one day become a primatologist. While there, though, she found her mind was more occupied with questions about the jungle’s natural resources and how the local communities were using them. When Dr. Bailey returned to Canada, she course-corrected her career path and pursued a Master’s and PhD in fisheries economics instead.
Now Dr. Bailey is a Canada Research Chair in Integrated Ocean and Coastal Governance. Her research informs public and private policies around seafood production and consumption all over the world. Her motivations are guided by the belief that ocean resources can be governed in ways that consider both ecological resilience and the social-wellbeing of communities that rely heavily on local fisheries.
- Sciographies – Episode 9 – Alastair Simpson, Evolutionary Biologist Thu, Sep 26, 2019
In this episode, we interview Dalhousie University’s Dr. Alastair Simpson, an evolutionary biologist. We talk to him about a widely-publicized paper his team landed in the journal Nature last fall, and how studying the genetic information of microbes helps us better understand the evolution of complex lifeforms on Earth. We also take a break from the science to discuss the sport that helps Dr. Simpson get through Canadian winters.
Dr. Simpson grew up in Sydney, Australia. He first came to North America for some of his graduate work at the storied Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute.
Then he landed a post-doc position here at Dalhousie in the Med School’s Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology – and he’s been with the university ever since.
Dr. Simpson was drawn to evolutionary biology in his undergrad because of how much we still don’t know about complex lifeforms on Earth. Today, he contributes to his field with research on eukaryotic microbes, also known as “Protists”. They’re organisms with complex cells – just like us – but they don’t belong to the animal kingdom, and they aren’t plants or fungi either. These microbes form many different branches on the Tree of Life, and Dr. Simpson’s team is particularly interested in the species that are predators; the ones that eat other microbes to survive and reproduce themselves.
- Sciographies – Episode 8 – Jason Brown, Mathematician Thu, Sep 19, 2019
In this episode, we interview Dalhousie University mathematician Dr. Jason Brown. We talk to him about his early days playing guitar in a band with his siblings, the real-world applications of graph theory, and the mathematics behind Beatles music.
In his free time, Dr. Brown enjoys playing music and writing songs. He’s been performing in front of audiences for decades and has even recorded his own album (Songs in the Key of Pi).
Back in 2004, some of Dr. Brown’s research made international headlines when he first used the power of math to figure out what was really going on with the mysterious opening chord of A Hard Day’s Night by the Beatles. Since then, he’s continued to explore music mathematically and publish the results.
- Sciographies – Episode 7 – Sara Iverson, Marine Biologist Thu, Sep 12, 2019
In this episode, we interview Dr. Sara Iverson to learn about her upbringing in Michigan, her fascinating path through university and grad school, what it’s like to work in the field with wild animals, and how to tag sharks and track them for studies that inform conservation policies.
Dr. Sara Iverson is a marine biologist with Dalhousie University and the Scientific Director of the Ocean Tracking Network. She’s also a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada—an honour that recognizes her life’s work studying physiological ecology. Her research takes her to remote locations in North America and the Arctic to study seabirds, seals, sea lions and polar bears in their natural habitats. Mattel and National Geographic even chose her as the role model for their recently-released polar marine biologist Barbie. Learn more at dal.ca/sciographies.
- Episode 6: Jeff Dahn, Battery Scientist Thu, Sep 20, 2018
He went from the varsity soccer team at Dalhousie to striking a deal that made him Tesla’s first university research partner ever. Physicist Jeff Dahn isn’t one to “stand around and let grass grow” under his feet. He has led a highly-acclaimed career in battery science. Known around the world as one of the pioneering developers of the lithium-ion batteries now found in portable electronics, power tools, electric vehicles and large-scale energy storage, Dr. Dahn has been recognized with awards like Canada’s NSERC Gerhard Herzberg Gold Medal in Science and Engineering. Now an Industrial Research Chair with NSERC and Tesla Canada, Dr. Dahn works to improve how much energy Li-ion batteries can store, how long they last over time, and how they’re made in an effort to reduce their cost. In between running his 25-member lab group, he teaches the first-year physics course at Dalhousie. In this episode, he talks about how he built a successful career as a scientist in government, industry and academia. He also comments on how Li-ion batteries are currently the best energy storage solution but alternatives, while in their infancy now, can also help us solve our energy problems in the future.
- Ep 05 – Sciographies – Sarah Wells, Biomedical Engineer – Heart Tissues & Spider Silk Wed, Aug 15, 2018
She went from feeling personally responsible for documenting a lunar eclipse as a kid to taking hints from nature to inspire her research as a biomedical scientist and engineer. Dr. Sarah Wells is the Assistant Dean of the Medical Sciences program at Dalhousie University and a professor in both the Department of Physics and Atmospheric Sciences and the School of Biomedical Engineering. She tells us about reading every astronomy book in the Lucan, Ontario library and her work on understanding natural materials like heart tissues in pregnant women. Having a fundamental understanding of how natural materials work, she says, can lead to better high-performance engineering materials, medical treatments and more.