This Week in Canadian Science 2018-06-10

by | June 10, 2018


By Scott Douglas Jacobsen

VANCOUVERJune 8, 2018 /CNW/ – Today, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, the Haida Nation, Oceana Canada and Ocean Networks Canada announced a new partnership to share resources, knowledge and expertise to better understand and protect seamounts (underwater mountains) near the islands of Haida Gwaii.

Protecting seamounts is internationally recognized as important for healthy oceans. Seamounts are offshore biodiversity hotspots. These highly-structured environments are ideal for coral and sponge growth, in turn providing nursery and foraging habitat important for fish populations and other marine life.

This summer, the group will spend 16 days aboard the Ocean Exploration Trust’s state-of-the-art vessel, E/V Nautilus, studying three seamounts: SGaan Kinghlas-Bowie, Dellwood and Explorer.”


Professor Vivek Goel is vice-president, research and innovation at the University of Toronto.

When was the last time you travelled outside Canada? Can you remember the last time you had a conversation with someone born elsewhere or felt a personal link to international events?

Canadians pride themselves on our global connections, diversity and openness. We are a small but significant player on the world stage and our ability to work across borders is a key part of our influence. As we all benefit from such global connections, so does research. If you want to be at the leading edge globally, you have to build global partnerships. Prosperity-generating breakthroughs in Canada depend on knowledge that is produced here, as well as in many other research centres around the world.

Unfortunately, there are some people who raise concerns about working with foreign partners. Something has to be done, the argument goes, to stop academics from handing over our national know-how to foreign players with little in return.”


“When Kirsty Duncan, Canada’s federal science minister, wants to illustrate the importance of fundamental science – research driven by human curiosity, not potential outcomes – she often reaches for the example of deep learning.

The branch of artificial intelligence, which attempts to mimic the way the human brain learns, was pioneered by University of Toronto researcher Geoffrey Hinton and others and is now widely viewed as a potentially revolutionary technology that could transform Toronto – and Canada – into a global innovation hub.

But if it weren’t for public funding of University Professor Hinton’s research decades ago, when he toiled in obscurity on a field of inquiry many considered crazy, the breakthrough may well have happened somewhere else – or perhaps not all.

“There’s a lesson here: it’s investments in discovery research over decades,” Duncan said in an interview during a visit to U of T’s campus this week, noting the federal government last year invested $125 million in a Canada-wide artificial intelligence strategy to capitalize on its early lead.”


“Federal Science Minister Kirsty Duncan has made it clear that gender equity in science is a big priority for her. And now she’s looking beyond universities to scientists employed by the federal government.

Duncan said in an interview in Toronto this week that she has asked science-based departments in the federal government to collect demographic data about their staff following a union survey that found:

  • 42 per cent of female federal scientists, engineers and researchers who responded thought gender bias was a career barrier.
  • 27 per cent believe men are favoured in opportunities for leadership roles.

But Duncan isn’t relying on the union’s own study.

“I think we have to know what the data is,” she said.”


Expectations include delivering on mandate priorities, engaging in consultations and continuing ongoing collaboration

OTTAWAJune 8, 2018 /CNW/ – Today, the Honourable Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Science and Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities, met the Canada Research Coordinating Committee (CRCC) to outline her expectations for transformative change in the research community. The Minister launched the CRCC in October 2017 with the mission of delivering on priorities that include:

  • Bringing greater harmony and coordination to research-related programs and policies in Canada and addressing common concerns across the three federal granting councils and the Canada Foundation for Innovation;
  • Improving equity, diversity and inclusion across the research spectrum; and
  • Developing, in partnership with Indigenous communities, an interdisciplinary Indigenous research and training model that contributes to reconciliation with First Nations, Métis and Inuit.

During today’s meeting in Ottawa, the Minister outlined her expectations that the committee engage in ongoing consultations with the members and organizations that are part of Canada’s research community.”


Scott Douglas Jacobsen is the Founder of In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal and In-Sight Publishing. He authored/co-authored some e-books, free or low-cost. If you want to contact Scott:

Do not forget to look into our associates: Godless Mom, Nice Mangoes, Sandwalk, Brainstorm Podcast, Left at the Valley, Life, the Universe & Everything Else, The Reality Check, Bad Science Watch, British Columbia Humanist Association, Dying With Dignity Canada, Canadian Secular Alliance, and Centre for Inquiry Canada.

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