Redeemer University College Science News

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Redeemer Science Education Program

Every year, from September to June, Jennifer Chiang, lecturer of biology and laboratory instructor, organizes and leads the Redeemer Science Education Program for elementary and high schools. Professor Chiang began the program for elementary students in 1991 with her husband Dr Gary Chiang, and since then, the program has grown significantly.

Over 300 elementary and secondary students are welcomed each year. Schools, church groups, and home educators participate in a variety of science-related activities, including labs, demonstrations, and experiments, on topics such as insects, soil, and cells.

Whaley Teaching GardenThe Whaley Teaching Garden, which Professor Chiang manages year-round, plays a significant role in the elementary school trips. It is used for demonstrations and hands-on learning as the students are invited to dig up the soil, collect insects and worms, and examine the plants.

Apart from exposing younger people to the excitement of science, the program raises awareness about Redeemer. Students considering post-secondary education are able to experience Redeemer University College and become familiar with the
opportunities available.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Alumni News

Randy Elzinga '01, who majored in mathematics at Redeemer, obtained his PhD at Queen's University, Oct. 25, 2007. In his thesis "The Minimum Witt Index of a Graph" he acknowledges his mathematics courses at Redeemer "opened my eyes to the beauty of mathematics and provided the foundation for success in graduate studies." Randy is currently teaching at Queen's University.

Alan Meijer '94, who majored in biology at Redeemer, has since obtained an MSc in crop science from North Carolina State University. He is currently an Extension Associate: Tillage and Soil Management at the Vernon G. James Research and Extension Center of NCSU.

Felix Lam '06, is pursuing a MSc in biology at the University of Western Ontario. He is studying octopamine receptors in the cabbage looper, Trichoplusiani, and is becoming proficient in molecular biology as he identifies, isolates and sequences gene fragments.

Lisa Scully '01 obtained her PhD from the Department of Biological Sciences at Brock University. She has co-authored several articles with her supervisor based on her microbiology research. Her studies were funded in part by a prestigious NSERC postgraduate doctoral scholarship.

Aart Smit '07 and Dr. Schuurman presented a paper in Montreal, based on summer undergraduate student research sponsored by NSERC and subsequently published "Robust Subspace Position Measurement Using Localized Sub-Windows," Proceedings of the Canadian Conference on Computer and Robot Vision, May 2007, pp. 282-288.

Jakob Van Dorp '06, is pursuing a Master's degree in urban and regional Planning (MPl) at Queen's University. Jakob obtained a BSc with majors in environmental studies, history and English and has continued his interest in urban issues, particularly related to improving access to food and growing food in cities. His research currently involves looking at how community garden programs are developed and maintained in Toronto.

Friday, October 19, 2007

David Speicher

David Speicher
David J. Speicher (Redeemer 2004) who obtained an honours biology degree from Redeemer, graduated from Griffith University School of Biomedical Sciences with an MSc (honours) in Clinical Microbiology, working in the Qpid (Queensland Paediatric Infectious Diseases) Laboratory. David is currently pursuing a Ph.D. at the School of Dentistry and Oral Health, researching oral cancer in patients with AIDS caused by human herpes virus 8. David intends to compare the prevalence of this virus in Australia, India, and Kenya. If research goes as planned, he will be heading to India in May for 2-3 months of field work and training of their lab staff. On World AIDS Day, David was privileged to spend the day helping at an AIDS camp in India where free medical, dental and eye examinations were given along with free lab work and medical supplies. It was run with a Christian AIDS organization called ACET (AIDS Care, Education and Training) in conjunction with Operation Blessing India.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Loretta Vanderspek

Loretta Vanderspek
Loretta Vanderspek (Redeemer 2007) was awarded a prestigious NSERC Postgraduate Scholarship worth $17,300 for graduate studies. She declined the award since she had made a commitment to teach high school for one year. She is teaching mathematics, English and art at Norwich Christian School and plans to continue further studies in September 2008.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Monarch Butterfly

Monarch Butterfly
The Monarch Butterfly is found throughout Canada in areas where the host plant Milkweed is found.

Monarchs east of the Rockies migrate to central Mexico. Frederick Urquhart of the University of Toronto discovered the first Mexican wintering site in 1974.

The lifespan of most Monarchs is less than two months but the last generation of the summer enters into a non-reproductive phase known as diapause and may live up to 7 months. It is during diapause that the butterflies make the long migration south. The generation that over winters generally does not reproduce until it leaves the over wintering site sometime in February and March. It is the second, third and fourth generations that return to Canada in the spring.

As a defense against predators Monarchs are foul tasting. Whether the butterfly is toxic depends on the species of milkweed the caterpillar was reared on. The common milkweed is nonpoisonous but other species of milkweed contain deadly cardiac glycosides.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Symposium on the Conenose

Erwin Huebner
Earlier this month, Dr Gary Chiang chaired a symposium on the biology of blood-sucking conenoses, vectors of Chagas Disease at the 7th International Congress of Comparative Physiology and Biochemistry. The quadrennial event took place Aug 12-16 in Salvadore, Bahia, Brazil.

Speakers were:

  • K.G. Davey, York University, Toronto, ON, Canada.

  • I. Orchard, University of Toronto, Mississauga, ON, Canada.

  • E.S. Garcia and Dr. P. Azambuja, Departamento de Bioquimica e Biologia; Molecular, Instituto Oswaldo Cruz-Fiocruz, Rio de Janeiro, Brasil.

  • Erwin Huebner, University of Manitoba, Canada. (pictured above)

  • Claudio R. Lazzari, Institut de Recherche sur la Biologie de l'Insecte, Faculté des Sciences et Techniques, Université François Rabelais, France.

The conenose, or Kissing Bug, is the principal vector of the parasite that causes Chagas' disease, which affects millions in South America. Chagas' disease, which more frequently attacks children, involves fever and damage to the spleen and nervous system, as well as to the liver and the heart muscles. It is sometimes fatal.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Alumni News - Heidi Renkema

Heidi Renkema (Redeemer 2005), completed a joint MSc degree in land resource science and international development at the University of Guelph. Her thesis "Thallium Accumulation by Durum Wheat and Spring Canola: The Roles of Cation Competition, Uptake Kinetics, and Transpiration" was co-supervised by Dr. Berkelaar. She is currently in a one-year internship at ECHO (Educational Concerns for Hunger Organization) in North Fort Myers Florida. ECHO is a Christian ogranization with a mission to equip and support people doing agricultural development overseas.