SFU biologist studies role of evolution in human mental illness

How does the human brain work? Why do humans get mental illnesses and how? What happens when the human brain does not work as expected?

Dr. Bernard Crespi, Professor of Evolutionary Biology and Canada Research Chair in Evolution and Psychology, will address some of these questions in a public talk at Okanagan College as part of the Science in Society Speaker Series. bernard_crespi_by_sfu_resize

The presentation will take place at Okanagan College’s Vernon campus in the lecture theatre on Wednesday, April 18 at 7:30 p.m. in a talk entitled Where Darwin Meets Freud: the evolutionary biology and psychology of human mental illness.

According to Dr. Crespi, understanding the evolution of the human brain, and mental illness risks, represent some of the biggest research questions of the 21st century.

Crespi’s research centers on integrating theory, methods and data from evolutionary biology, social behaviour, genetics, psychology, psychiatry, neuroscience, and hormones to understand why and how the human brain has evolved, how human cognition has evolved under Darwinian natural selection, and how risks and forms of human mental illnesses have evolved.

Conditions such as autism, depression, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia are usually considered as purely-detrimental mental ‘illnesses’, comparable to other sorts of medical disorders. However, “recent advances in genetics, neuroscience, psychology, and evolutionary biology are re-casting psychiatric conditions in new light, and guiding new ways to study and treat them”, says Crespi. “Our goal will be to better understand the nature of mental illnesses, their causes, and their consequences for individuals, families, and communities”.

In addition to multiple major international awards in evolutionary and behavioral biology, Dr. Crespi was awarded 2016 Sterling Prize for revolutionizing psychiatry with his Diametric Theory of Human Mental Illness, originally published with co-author and sociologist Christopher Badcock in 2008.

Dr. Bernard Crespi joined the Department of Biological Sciences in 1992.  He received his PhD from the University of Michigan, and conducted postdoctoral work at Oxford and Cornell Universities. He is a member of the Royal Society of Canada.

Admission to the lecture is $7 in advance or $10 at the door. For advanced tickets call the Okanagan Science Centre at (250) 545-3644. Eventbrite tickets available at:

https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/where-darwin-meets-freud-talk-by-dr-bernard-crespi-tickets-44046042900

To subscribe or obtain more information visit okanagansisss.wordpress.com.

Presented jointly by Okanagan College and the Okanagan Science Centre, the Science in Society Speaker Series is sponsored by the Vernon Lodge and Conference Centre, Save on Foods, and the Vernon Morning Star.

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Digging deeper into the provincial overdose crisis

More than 1400 people died in the province of British Columbia of illicit drug use in 2017, compared to 993 the previous year.  The majority of these deaths involved fentanyl and this increase in drug related mortality occurred despite a public health crisis declared over two years ago. Many claim that this is the worst public health crisis in our province’s history. How exactly did we get here?johnson

Cheyenne Johnson, Director of Clinical Activities and Development at the British Columbia Center on Substance Use and the Canadian Research Initiative in Substance Misuse, will share her perspective on this difficult question in a public talk at Okanagan College as part of the Science in Society Speaker Series.

The presentation will take place at Okanagan College’s Vernon campus in the lecture theatre on Friday, March 9 at 7:30 p.m. in a talk entitled Beyond opioids: the overdose crisis—how did we get here?

Johnson, who is also the Director of the BC Center on Substance Use Addiction Nursing Fellowship, will provide a broad overview of the current overdose crisis and will also focus on the key gaps to improving the substance use system of care in BC. Key topics discussed will include stigma, science and social policy.

“Addiction, especially opioid addiction, doesn’t have a one-size-fits-all approach. Most chronic diseases don’t”, says Johnson. “Harm reduction is the foundation of all substance-use care. It is the lens through which we provide programs, policies and services, such as needle distribution, safe consumption sites, overdose prevention and education”.

In her current position, Johnson oversees the development of provincial clinical care guidance documents and dissemination, including evidence-based clinical guidelines, practice support tools and policy briefs. She is also actively involved the BCCSU’s interdisciplinary program of research related to substance use, bringing to bear her substantial experience in clinical trial operations (she is also a Certified Clinical Research Professional with experience in more than 20 addiction medicine, HIV/AIDS, dermatology, and ophthalmology clinical trials) as well as her background in health professions education, coordination and integration of care, and knowledge translation.

Cheyenne completed her Bachelor of Nursing Science at Queen’s University and her Master’s of Public Health at Simon Fraser University. She joined the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS in 2013 as a Clinical Research Nurse, where she went on to be the Inaugural Nursing Fellow of Canada’s only addiction nursing training program, the St. Paul’s Goldcorp Addiction Nursing Fellowship.

Admission to the lecture is $7 in advance or $10 at the door. For advanced tickets call the Okanagan Science Centre at (250) 545-3644.

Eventbrite tickets available at: https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/beyond-opioids-the-overdose-crisis-talk-by-cheyenne-johnson-tickets-42950616450.

To subscribe or obtain more information visit okanagansisss.wordpress.com.

Presented jointly by Okanagan College and the Okanagan Science Centre, the Science in Society Speaker Series is sponsored by the Vernon Atrium Hotel and Conference Centre, Starbucks Coffee, Save on Foods, and the Vernon Morning Star.

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UVic professor sheds light on Indigenous Peoples land management practices

Indigenous Peoples of British Columbia are often described as Hunter-Gatherers, but according to ethnobiologist Nancy Turner, this label scarcely acknowledges the sophisticated techniques and approaches First Nations have developed and applied over millennia to sustain and enhance their plant resources and habitats.NancyTurner

Dr. Nancy Turner, Trudeau Fellow and Emeritus Professor in Environmental Studies at the University of Victoria, will share insight into these management practices and associated knowledge in a public talk at Okanagan College as part of the Science in Society Speaker Series.

The presentation will take place at Okanagan College’s Vernon campus in the lecture theatre on Wednesday, Oct. 18 at 7:30 p.m. in a talk entitled Looking after the Plants, Looking after the Land: Environmental management by Indigenous Peoples of British Columbia.

Dr. Turner will explain how Indigenous plant managers bring their personal knowledge and techniques and practices passed down through generations, to cultivate “wild” species. These include influencing ecological succession, creating and extending particular habitats, pruning and coppicing trees and shrubs, enriching soils, distributing seeds, and transplanting species from one locale to another.

“Indigenous Peoples also embrace their own associated cultural institutions, means of monitoring and maintaining productivity, and ways of passing on knowledge to others, including future generations”, says Turner. “Their lessons and approaches are often taught through experiential learning, storytelling, ceremony, and art”.

Nancy Turner’s research integrates the fields of botany and ecology with anthropology, geography and linguistics, among others. She is interested in the traditional knowledge systems and traditional land and resource management systems of Indigenous Peoples, particularly in western Canada.

Nancy has worked with First Nations elders and cultural specialists in northwestern North America for over 40 years, collaborating with Indigenous communities to help document, retain and promote their traditional knowledge of plants and habitats, including Indigenous foods, materials and medicines, as well as language and vocabulary relating to plants and environments.

Dr. Turner has authored, co-authored or co-edited over 20 books and over 150 book chapters and peer-reviewed papers, and numerous other publications, both popular and academic.  She has also been recognized in a number of awards including the Member of the Order of Canada.

Admission to the lecture is $7 in advance or $10 at the door. For advanced tickets call the Okanagan Science Centre at (250) 545-3644. EventBrite tickets available at: https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/environmental-management-by-indigenous-peoples-talk-by-dr-nancy-turner-tickets-37322337115.

To subscribe or obtain more information visit okanagansisss.wordpress.com.

Presented jointly by Okanagan College and the Okanagan Science Centre, the Science in Society Speaker Series is sponsored by the Vernon Atrium Hotel and Conference Centre, Starbucks Coffee, Save on Foods, and the Vernon Morning Star.

 

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Forest ecologists explores causes, consequences and solutions to wildfire

Wildfire is an essential process in forest ecosystems, but can be incredibly destructive in the wildland-urban interface.  But, according to Dr. Lori Daniels, successful adaptation must include individuals and communities learning how to live with wildfire.Lori Daniels (fire-scarred pine)

Dr. Daniels is a Professor of Forest Ecology in the Forest and Conservation Sciences Department at UBC-Vancouver, where she directs the Tree-Ring Lab at UBC.  She will present her on-going research on long-term forest fire patterns and forest resilience to climate change in a public talk at the Okanagan College of the season for the Science in Society Speaker Series.

The presentation will take place at Okanagan College’s Vernon campus in the lecture theatre on Wednesday, October 4 at 7:30 p.m. in a talk entitled Wildfire 2017: Causes, Consequences and Solutions to a Wicked Problem.

“Wildfire is driven by climate, weather and fuels that vary among ecosystems and through time. Combined, land-use change, fire exclusion and global warming have made many forests highly susceptible to intense fires that are difficult to control and spread to large sizes,” says Daniels. “Revolutionizing forest and fire management will improve ecosystem resilience to climate change, but we will not stop future fires from burning.”

Dr. Daniels’ research, published in top academic journals, applies tree-ring analyses to investigate disturbance patterns and the impacts of climate and humans on forest dynamics. Given her interests in conservation and sustainable resource management, much of her research has practical application and is collaborative with NGOs, government agencies and private companies.

Admission to the lecture is $7 in advance or $10 at the door. For advanced tickets call the Okanagan Science Centre at 250-545-3644. To subscribe or obtain more information visit okanagansisss.wordpress.com.

Presented jointly by Okanagan College and the Okanagan Science Centre, the Science in Society Speaker Series is sponsored by the Vernon Lodge and Conference Centre, Starbucks Coffee, Save on Foods, and the Vernon Morning Star.

 

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SFU professor sounds alarm on danger of toxins to children’s brain development

Can the pesticides on your lawn and flame-resistant baby clothing cause ADHD and autism in children?Lanphear Headshot

According to environmental-health expert Dr. Bruce Lanphear, even exceedingly low-level exposures to toxic chemicals can contribute to premature births, intellectual disabilities and behavioural problems.

Lanphear will reveal key aspects of the new research supporting the link between widespread exposures to toxic chemicals and childhood disorders in a public talk at Okanagan College.

The presentation will take place in the lecture theatre of the College’s Vernon campus on Thursday, April 6 at 7:30 p.m. Lanphear’s talk, entitled “Little Things Matter: The Impact of Toxic Chemicals on the Developing Brain,” is part of the Science in Society Speaker Series.

Lanphear will explain how harmful chemicals, such as lead, tobacco, pesticides and flame retardants, impact brain development and discuss opportunities to prevent brain-based disorders in the early development of children.

He will also discuss the pandemic of consumption – the largely preventable, worldwide epidemic of chronic disease and disability in society due to widespread exposures to industrial pollutants, toxic chemicals and excess consumption.

“The impact of toxic chemicals is usually subtle for an individual child, but it can be substantial at the population level,” asserts Lanphear. “Too little has been done to protect children from these ubiquitous, but insidious, toxins.”

Lanphear, MD, MPH, is a clinician scientist at the Child & Family Research Institute, BC Children’s Hospital and professor in the Faculty of Health Sciences at Simon Fraser University. His primary goal is to help quantify and ultimately prevent disease and disability due to exposures to environmental contaminants and pollutants.

Admission to the lecture is $7 in advance or $10 at the door. For advanced tickets call the Okanagan Science Centre at 250-545-3644 or purchase through Eventbrite.

To subscribe or obtain more information visit okanagansisss.wordpress.com.

Presented jointly by Okanagan College and the Okanagan Science Centre, the Science in Society Speaker Series is sponsored by the Vernon Lodge and Conference Centre, Starbucks Coffee, Save on Foods, and the Vernon Morning Star.

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UBC professor advocates the benefit of exercise for healthy aging

Regardless of disease and disability, a daily dose of exercise has a remarkable benefit on cognitive and physical abilities and health, at any age.  But, according to Dr. Gareth Jones, these benefits may be especially important for our senior populations.

Dr. Jones, professor in the School of Health and Exercise Sciences, Faculty of Health and Social Development, at UBC Okanagan, will reveal the latest research from his lab on Parkinson’s disease, frailty and exercise to enhance and preserve physical function in a public talk at the Okanagan College as part of the Science in Society Speaker Series.

The presentation will take place at Okanagan College’s Vernon campus in the lecture theatre on Thursday, Mar. 9 at 7:30 p.m. in a talk entitled Is Exercise the Medicine for Successful Aging?

Since 2008, under Dr. Jones’ guidance, the Healthy Exercise and Aging Laboratory (HEAL) group at UBCO has advanced the fields of exercise, prehabilitative and rehabilitative sciences toward understanding the subtle differences observed between men and women, as they transition through the aging process.

“Much of the age- and sex-associated differences observed between older adults can be associated with the aging and/or disuse of muscle and other mechanical tissues,” says Jones. “Therefore, exercise that strengthens muscle will restore and/or maintain physical function, regardless of age and/or sex. Exercise is the medicine for successful aging”.

Dr. Jones’ interdisciplinary research program targeting successful aging has both national and international reach and he is considered a leader in the field of exercise and aging, with specific interest in understanding the impact of frailty on physical function. He has over 50 scientific publications, 60 international and national conference presentations and has received national awards for his work in exercise physiology.

Admission to the lecture is $7 in advance or $10 at the door. For advanced tickets call the Okanagan Science Centre at (250) 545-3644. To subscribe or obtain more information visit okanagansisss.wordpress.com.

Presented jointly by Okanagan College and the Okanagan Science Centre, the Science in Society Speaker Series is sponsored by the Vernon Lodge and Conference Centre, Starbucks Coffee, Save on Foods, and the Vernon Morning Star.

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Entomologist crime sleuth unveils the clues

Look out Sherlock Holmes!  CSI – stand aside! Enter forensic entomology – the study of insects to help solve real-life whodunnit mysteries. anderson_gail-33fin-colour

Dr. Gail Anderson, SFU professor and forensic entomology pioneer, will uncover all the clues in a public talk at the Okanagan College as part of the Science in Society Speaker Series.

The presentation will take place at Okanagan College’s Vernon campus in the lecture theatre on Wednesday, Oct. 12 at 7:30 p.m. in a talk entitled Murder and Maggots: The Use of Forensic Entomology in Criminal Investigations.

Anderson will explain how insects can be used to estimate elapsed time since death and other factors about a crime scene such as position and presence of wounds, and whether a body has been moved or disturbed. She will also discuss the role of entomology in animal abuse and neglect cases.

In this presentation, Anderson will use true case histories to illustrate the underlying fascinating science. But a warning to the public: Some of the images will be disturbing and therefore this talk is not recommended for anyone under 15 without parental permission.

Dr. Anderson is a Professor in the School of Criminology and the Co-Director of the Centre for Forensic Research at Simon Fraser University. She is a forensic entomology consultant to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and Municipal Police across Canada as well as the SPCA and Wildlife Enforcement.  She has been analyzing forensic entomology cases since 1988, and has testified as an expert witness in court many times.  Recently, Anderson’s research was used to help convict Robert Pickton for the murder of dozens of Vancouver women.

Dr. Anderson’s work has been featured in numerous television programs. Anderson was a recipient of Canada’s Top 40 under 40 Award and a YWCA Women of Distinction Award for Science and Technology, and the SFU Alumni Association Outstanding Alumni Award in. She was listed in TIME magazine as one of the top five global innovators in the world, this century, in the field of Criminal Justice in 2001 (the only Canadian listed) and as one of the Leaders for the 21st Century by TIME Magazine in 1999. She was awarded the Derome Award in 2001; the most prestigious award the Canadian Society of Forensic Science (CSFS) bestows -for “outstanding contributions to the field of forensic science”. She was listed as one of the 100 most Influential Women in British Columbia by the Vancouver Sun in 2010, received a Dean’s Medal for Academic Excellence in 2014, and in 2015 was listed as one of the 6 most influential scientists in BC by the Vancouver Sun.

Admission to the lecture is $7 in advance or $10 at the door. For advanced tickets call the Okanagan Science Centre at (250) 545-3644. To subscribe or obtain more information visit okanagansisss.wordpress.com.

Presented jointly by Okanagan College and the Okanagan Science Centre, the Science in Society Speaker Series is sponsored by the Vernon Atrium Hotel and Conference Centre, Starbucks Coffee, Save on Foods, and the Vernon Morning Star.

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