Awards take pulse of Quebec star research

Québec’s Chief Scientist, Rémi Quirion, announced the May winners of theÉtudiants-chercheurs étoiles Award this morning - it’s a new, monthly competition spearheaded by the three Fonds de recherche du Québec.

Award Winner, Fonds Nature et Technologies (Nature and Technology)
Mohammad A. Qasaimeh,
Ph. D. student in Biomedical engineering, McGill University 
Award-winning article: “Microfluidic quadrupole and floating concentration gradient”. Published in Nature Communications, September 6 2011

Award Winner, Fonds Santé (Health)
Sarah Assadian
Ph. D. student in Biochemistry, McGill University, Rosalind and Morris Goodman Cancer Research Centre
Award-winning article: “p53 Inhibits Angiogenesis by Inducing the Production of Arresten”. Published in Cancer Research, 72(5), March 1 2012, pages 1270-1279

Award Winner, Fonds Société et Culture (Society and Culture)
Marie-Eve Lang,
Ph. D. student in communication, Université Laval
Award-winning article: “L’agentivité sexuelle des adolescentes et des jeunes femmes : une définition”. Published in Recherches féministes, vol. 24, nº 2, p. 189-209

In addition to promoting careers in research, the competition aims to recognize the exceptional research contributions of college and university students, postdoctoral fellows and members of professional bodies who are enrolled in advanced research training programs in the areas covered by the three Fonds.

Every month, each Fonds will award $1000 to a student researcher. An overview of the recipient’s project and a photo of the recipient will be featured on the Web site

For the first edition of this competition, the three Fonds received a total of 205 applications: 84 for the Fonds Nature et Technologies, 76 for the Fonds Santé and 45 for the Fonds Société et Culture. “I am very pleased with the response from student researchers, and I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate the winners” noted Dr. Quirion.

Upcoming Health Symposium in Quebec

List prepared by the Fonds de recherche du Québec - Santé.

February 21 - 29, 2012

Canadian Digestive Diseases Week and Annual CASL Winter Meeting 2012

February 23 - 25, 2012
Leadership in transplantation - Annual Scientific Conference 2012

May 2 & 3, 2012
Biotech City 10th Anniversary Symposium

May 7 - 10, 2012
Annual Conference 2012

June 9 - 12, 2012
The Neutrophil in Immunity 2012

June 15 - 19, 2012
CAS / SCA 2012 - 68th Annual Meeting

June 23 - 27, 2012
11th International Congress on Nursing Informatics 2012

August 27 - September 4, 2012
UICC World Cancer Congress 2012

September 17 - 23, 2012
83th Annual Meeting

September 20 - October 3, 2012
Psychiatry 2012

September 27 - 28, 2012
Annual Meeting 2012

Image: Montreal’s Palais des congrès Conference Centre. Credit: Palais des congrès

Quebec - a great place for university research

This tumblr started as a whimsical experiment, and more of a replacement for posting links to Facebook than anything else. However, it’s rapidly became the cornerstone of my professional and personal communications – a looking glass that offers a glimpse into research at universities in Quebec and out to the cultural and geographical dimensions that colour my work and my life.

The name came to me as I was coming down from the Rutherford physics building at McGill. Rutherford, such a hearty sounding name. And a brilliant scientist who was born in New Zealand – I can’t claim much in common with the great man, but I can claim that. So can Katherine Mansfield. Mansfield was a poet and an artist who left Wellington to pursue her artistic interests in the South of France. I think the two names go together quite nicely, and the combination of their careers reflects the kind of juxtaposition I would like to offer my readers. The combination also sounds vaguely évocateur of the place names you find in Montréal.

Créer un compte tumblr, c’était pour moi question d’expérimenter avec les médias « sociaux » et surtout évoluer au-delà du simple partage des liens sur Facebook. Or, cet outil est rapidement devenu la pierre angulaire de mes communications professionnelles et personnelles – une vitrine qui vous permettra de découvrir la recherche scientifique entreprise par les universitaires québécois.

J’ai conçu le nouveau titre à la sortie du Pavillon Rutherford à McGill. Rutherford, ça comporte un certain cachet sonore. C’était un scientifique excellent né en Nouvelle-Zélande ; à part le lien McGill, c’est probablement la seule chose que j’ai en commun avec cette sommité de la physique. C’est également une racine que je partage avec Katherine Mansfield, une poète et une artiste qui a quitté Wellington pour s’installer dans le sud de la France afin de poursuivre sa carrière. Je trouve que les deux noms vont ensemble bien, et la conjugaison de leurs profils représentent bien celui du contenu que j’aimerais proposer à mes lecteurs. De coup, « Rutherford-Mansfield », c’est assez évocateur de la toponymie montréalaise, à mon avis.

Genetic reading for better tree breeding

Updated - Canadian researchers are going to be sequencing the entire genetic code of spruce trees, with the idea of using according the information to better select saplings at planting time, according to an interesting Université Laval press release. They’ll be searching for genes related to wood density, growth rate, and insect resistant. According to projet leader Prof. John Mackay, at Laval’s Department of Woods and Forestry, the genetic code of spruce tree genes is actually six times longer than that of humans, which has dissuaded researchers from looking at it. Apparently, if genetic selection was applied to 20% of Canada’s saplings, wood production could increase by 1.5 million cubic metres per annum. The work will take them about three years.

There’s actually a lot of interesting research being done in the field of forestry in Quebec as the industry and the government look for ways to cope with difficulties related to pulp and paper production (not least of which is the fact that recycled paper costs less to produce than new paper) and wider problems related to the primary sector in Canada (export costs, etc). To give you another example, Dr. van de Ven at McGill’s Pulp and Paper Research Centre is looking for entirely new products that could be made from trees, such as super water-resistant films and antibacterial textiles.

In interesting coincidence, Dr. Alain Fréchette (UQAM) and Dr. Nathalie Lewis (UQAR) of the University of Quebec network published a study today that evaluates how institutional culture affects the provincial government’s ability to manage our forestry resources. In short, they find that the constitutional decision to give the Government of Quebec exclusive authority over forests hinders innovative approaches. That may be true when it comes to the political side of things, but in terms of science, it seems like there’s plenty of surprising and dynamic activities taking place.

Image: The genetic code of a spruce tree is six times longer than yours. This photo is called “Tree with Face,” and it was taken by Mark, at the “Parc Rapides du Cheval Blanc, Roxboro-Pierrefonds, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.” I found it on Wikipedia. Creepy, huh? (and before you write in to tell me this image has no scientific merit - I KNOW!)