Science + Nature UNtapped

A free virtual monthly speaker series

Supported by the estate of Colleen Anna Cox

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!]

Click Here to Join Live Event

July 7th, 2021 | 7-8pm

Water, Fish, & Community

Barry N Madison, Ph.D

I take an integrative molecule-to-population level approach to my research. I draw on my broad research experience employing techniques from physiology, endocrinology, and toxicology to study animal responses to environment and climate change. In this presentation, I will provide some perspective on my background and approach to research, as well as the story of why Water, Fish, & Community represents a new age of integration in my scientific journey. Recent events have caused many scientists to reflect on what is important to us, and my hope is to demonstrate how COVID has made many of us rethink our approach to research. Instead of a detailed presentation of data, I hope to share my experiences and highlight the importance of flexibility in scientific research. I will offer some examples of this in practice using my own experience with recent collaborations with the River Institute. I will close with what I see as the opportunities, and their challenges for this way forward ahead. 

Originally from Kenora, ON, Barry pursued his passion for aquatic biology at Queen’s University and completed his PhD at the University of Guelph, where his research focused on the endocrine mechanisms of stress and growth in salmonids. A post-doc placement at the Royal Military College of Canada furthered his expertise in ecotoxicology in his work studying the effects of petrochemicals and novel watershed contaminants. As a Research Associate and Adjunct Professor at Queen’s University, he expanded his research into oil sands wastewater decontamination processes; explored modern methods for monitoring contaminants and indicators of ecosystem health; and studied novel bioremediation methods for harmful algal blooms. Barry has recently acted as a science contributor and advisor to the River Institute’s Great River Rapport, and his recent work with the Great Lakes Institute of Environmental Research (University of Windsor), Queen’s University, and the River Institute focus on Water, Fish, & Community.

How to attend event…

  1. 7pm – click here to watch live on Zoom
  2. 7pm – click here to watch live on Facebook
  3. 7pm – Tune in to Yourtv Cornwall Cogeco cable, channels 11 and 70

Past Presenters

Permaculture: An Introduction to Going Beyond Sustainability

Audrey Constance Wagner

MSc. candidate in Environmental Change and Management | University of Oxford BSc. Environment and Food Production | McGill University

In this Introduction to Permaculture, speaker Audrey Wagner lays out the foundation of permaculture theory and showcases some specific techniques and tools typically used in permaculture, before illustrating some examples from around the world. Permaculture (from permanent-culture or permanent-agriculture) is a system of design based on the observation of nature to create human societies which are beyond sustainable, abundant and regenerative. Emerging from the disciplines of ecology, systems thinking and traditional indigenous knowledge, permaculture guides us to work with nature to meet human needs while regenerating the environment at the same time. 

Audrey Wagner is an expert in the intersections between sustainability and food systems. Having conducted research on agroecological farms across the world, from Belize and India to Panama and Portugal, she is particularly well-versed in Permaculture. From Montreal, Canada, she holds a BSc. in Environment and Food Production, with a minor in International Agriculture, from McGill University. She is the co-founder of four organizations including the Macdonald Permaculture Showcase Garden and McGill Permaculture Club, and has worked as Sustainability Coordinator for McGill’s Food and Dining Services, researcher for the International Institute for Sustainable Development in Canada and for the United Nations World Food Program in Havana, Cuba. Currently studying an MSc. in Environmental Change and Management at the University of Oxford in the UK,

her current research focuses on payments for ecosystems services and indigenous sovereignty in the Peruvian Amazon. Audrey hopes to go on to work on agricultural nature-based solutions to climate change and biodiversity loss, while empowering farmers to strengthen their resilience and livelihoods, particularly in Latin America.

A year of Adaptation 2020 Year in Review
Presented by the River Institute Staff

Wondering what we did last year?
Curious about the river?
Want to meet some of our staff?

Join us on May 5, at 7pm for a special ‘River Institute Year in Review’ edition of Science and Nature UNtapped. River Institute staff will come together to tell you all about the amazing projects they worked on in 2020 and their plans for 2021. Bring your questions and join us…

Exotic invasion of the Upper St. Lawrence River: Moderating Factors and Emerging Questions

Dr. Alison Derry
Associate Professor Université du Québec à Montréal

Exotic invasion is globally recognized as one of the most serious persisting threats to aquatic biodiversity and ecosystem function. Invasive species are difficult if not impossible to eradicate from natural ecosystems, and so it becomes it is important to understand factors that could moderate their ecological impacts once they have become irrevocably integrated in food webs. I will revisit the ecological impacts of round goby fish invasion in the Upper St. Lawrence River (Canada) on resident macroinvertebrate and fish communities, by taking into consideration the effects of time since initial invasion 20 years ago. I will also address how different refuge types constrain round goby invasion impacts on native biodiversity at the whole ecosystem-scale of the Upper St. Lawrence River. I will finish by discussing forthcoming research questions on how round goby invasion may impact contaminants and ecosystem services for humans.

Alison Derry received a BSc in zoology/environmental biology (University of Guelph), a MSc in limnology (University of Alberta), and a PhD in ecology and evolution (Queen’s University). She is presently an associate professor in the department of biological sciences at the Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM). Her research program applies ecological and evolutionary theory to aquatic field ecosystems to address adaptive responses to environmental disturbance from populations to communities to ecosystems.

Michael Twiss is Yankee who grew up in northern Ontario, and arrived at Clarkson in 2002, following a brief tenure at Ryerson University (Toronto). Twiss’s expertise is in limnology of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River system. His research focuses on aquatic biogeochemistry and plankton ecology and he has published over 75 peer-reviewed scientific manuscripts. Over the past seven years, he has increasingly become involved with Great Lakes environmental policy. He is an appointed member of the Great Lakes Science Advisory Board of the International Joint Commission (Canada/USA), past member of the Great Lakes Advisory Board – Science and Information Subcommittee of the United States Environmental Protection Agency, and currently serves as the US co-chair of the Smart Great Lakes Initiative Steering Committee.

Alison Derry’s research program which brings evolutionary biology, community ecology, and ecosystem ecology under the unifying theme of eco-evolutionary interactions. The research is based in aquatic ecosystems across Canada and in Alaska, spanning from the Canadian Rockies to Ontario and Québec to Newfoundland. Alison, her students, and her collaborators apply a diversity of approaches that include whole lake ecosystem manipulations, field and lab experimentation, environmental DNA, and genomics to address ecological and evolutionary responses in Canadian aquatic ecosystems to stressors such as acidification, metal pollution, exotic invasion, and climate change.

Maitland Tower: Combining History, Nature, Community and Social Enterprise

Philip Ling, & Michèle Andrews
Maitland Tower Corp,

The Maitland Tower is an iconic landmark east of Brockville on the St. Lawrence River with a storied past that dates back to the 1750’s. In 2016 Philip Ling bought the Maitland Tower site, and started the restoration of the historic buildings.  

The site will become a hub for the community, connecting people with the history, nature, and the St. Lawrence River, and hosting and mentoring the next generation of social enterprises that want to have a positive impact on the community and our planet. 

It will also be a demonstration of the Living Building Challenge and Living Community Challenge — the highest standards of green building design in the world.  

Last fall the Maitland Tower team created, a non-profit to accelerate their work in the community. Michèle Andrews, a member of the Maitland Tower team, is leading, and will share some of their initiatives, including a collaborative re-wilding and shoreline restoration project on the Maitland Tower site, in partnership with the River Institute and several other local organizations. 

Philip is a nature bug, electrical engineer, clean tech entrepreneur and philanthropist, and believes in leading by example. Twenty-five years ago he co-founded Powersmiths, a manufacturer of energy saving power systems for clients across North America, which he sold in 2018. He is involved in his community, serving on several environmental committees. In 2012, Philip took his Biomimicry specialist certification with the Biomimicry Institute, where he studied how nature can inspire regenerative solutions to design problems. His family has a conservation agreement for their 400 acres of provincially significant wetlands, and were Markham Hydro’s first solar-powered home.

Michèle spent the first 15 years of her career in the corporate sector in marketing, strategy, leadership and organizational transformation before making the switch to independent school administration, where she spent the next 15 years. Recently she led a national Green Schools Project with the Canadian Accredited Independent Schools association. She is a Climate Reality Leader, and a volunteer ambassador and Living Future Accredited member of the International Living Future Institute. She brings her deep passion for creating a just, beautiful and regenerated world to work each day.

Bringing Emerging Technologies and a Decentralized Approach to Water Treatment & Conservation

Andy Zhou, Sreeman Mypati, & Cameron Runte
Grafoid Inc.

Grafoid Inc. is a Kingston, ON company that specializes in graphene research, development, and production. Grafoid has recently engaged the St Lawrence River Institute to collaborate on research and product validation studies that align with the strategic plan of the River Institute. In this presentation, we will introduce the history of Grafoid, elaborate on the uses of our graphene-based materials in water treatment settings, and discuss our applications of the materials within engineered systems that are designed to address problems surrounding water treatment, security, and conservation.

Sreeman Mypati graduated with a Ph.D. degree in Chemical Engineering from Queen’s University in 2020, and joined Grafoid Inc. in 2020 as an Environmental Scientist with a focus on developing decentralized water treatment technologies.

Cameron graduated with a M.Sc. in Microbiology & Immunology from Dalhousie University in 2017 prior to joining Grafoid in 2018 as a Business Development Associate. Now as VP Product Commercialization, Cameron is focused on a collaboration-based approach to developing commercial markets and moving the company’s emerging technologies through the product development pipeline.

Andy graduated with a Masters in Material Science and Engineering from the University of Toronto in 2017. In his current position as Grafoid’s VP of Research and Application Development, Andy leads product management and implements long-term strategy with respect to new and emerging technologies that advance company objectives.

REASON d’être: The St. Lawrence River Environment and Sensor Observation Network

Dr. Michael Twiss
Chair of Biology Clarkson University

The REASON Project is focused on accessing water quality of the St Lawrence River. This multinational partnership serves many needs – long-term data set to observe climate change effects and policy impacts on water quality, a learning tool, a platform for developing and applying emerging technologies, and an early warning sentinel of changing water quality. In this talk, Twiss will present a variety of approaches used to assess water quality and the challenges of doing this in a large river system.  The design of the REASON project sensor platforms will be shared and interesting phenomena revealed by its operation.  In addition, recent applications for protecting water quality in the St. Lawrence River-Kaniatarowanenneh are illustrated. 

Michael Twiss is Yankee who grew up in northern Ontario, and arrived at Clarkson in 2002, following a brief tenure at Ryerson University (Toronto).  Twiss’s expertise is in limnology of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River system. His research focuses on aquatic biogeochemistry and plankton ecology and he has published over 75 peer-reviewed scientific manuscripts.  Over the past seven years, he has increasingly become involved with Great Lakes environmental policy.  He is an appointed member of the Great Lakes Science Advisory Board of the International Joint Commission (Canada/USA), past member of the Great Lakes Advisory Board – Science and Information Subcommittee of the United States Environmental Protection Agency, and currently serves as the US co-chair of the Smart Great Lakes Initiative Steering Committee. 

As an active member of the IJC Science Advisory Board, Twiss is presently co-chair of the Great Lakes Early Warning System – Phase II project, and is a core member of the Great Lakes Science Plan work group.  His past committee activities at the IJC SAB include co-chairing the Great Lakes Early Warning System – Phase I project, and co-chair of the Current Status of Great Lakes Connecting Waters work group.  He recently served as the president (2018-2019) of the International Association for Great Lakes Research.  Twiss is on the Fulbright Specialist Program roster, and in the absence of pandemics, he is a Level III USA hockey referee during his spare time.

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?

Tom Langen
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?

Leigh McGaughey
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

Barbara King
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.

Connect with Watersheds Canada on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube.

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

Matt Windle
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

Emmalyn Dupree
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.

For more information contact:

Leigh McGaughey Research Scientist