2020 Henry Marshall Tory Lecture

The Friends of the University of Alberta is pleased to welcome back 2015 University of Alberta Distinguished Alumni Award recipient Dan Riskin.

Making Science Accessible to Canadians in the Age of COVID-19

TV shows and web-videos about science were all fun and games until a coronavirus from China showed up to the party. Until then, audiences had mostly let the presenters pick the topic, and trusted them to deliver entertaining content. But with the arrival of COVID-19, audiences suddenly want science content about one particular topic. What’s more, the stakes have become much higher for two reasons: (1) science presenters must dispel a tidal wave of misinformation and conspiracy theories, and (2) public trust in science and scientists has a huge impact on the spread of the disease itself, since it influences whether or not people follow the advise of experts to social distance and wear masks. Dan will talk about his own experience as a science communicator in Canada through this transition, and offer his perspective about what the future holds.

November 4, 2020 at 7pm MT via Zoom

Bio:
Dan Riskin, PhD, is a biologist, science journalist, and author. He is best known as the former host of Daily Planet on Discovery, and as the author of the bestselling book Mother Nature is Trying to Kill You. After graduating from the University of Alberta, Dan worked as a bat scientist, travelling around the world to understand the biomechanics of bat movement. But for the last decade or so, he has focused on communicating science to popular audiences, writing, and appearing as a guest on TV news shows (CTV, BNN, CNN, CBS). Dan’s been interviewed by Anderson Cooper, Craig Ferguson, Jay Leno, and Mehmet Oz, and has hosted his own shows on the Discovery Channel, National Geographic, Animal Planet, CTV, and CBC. He now lives in Toronto, but he still cheers for the Oilers.

Follow Dan Riskin on Twitter: @riskindan

Update: Here are the paper’s Dan referenced in his talk

β-Adrenergic activation and memory for emotional events
https://www.nature.com/articles/371702a0

A mountable toilet system for personalized health monitoring via the analysis of excreta
https://www.nature.com/articles/s41551-020-0534-9

The impact of incorrect social information on collective wisdom in human groups
https://royalsocietypublishing.org/doi/full/10.1098/rsif.2020.0496

The spread of true and false news online
https://science.sciencemag.org/content/359/6380/1146

The Emotional Path to Action: Empathy Promotes Physical Distancing and Wearing of Face Masks During the COVID-19 Pandemic
https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0956797620964422

2020 AGM – Covid-19 style

We hope you are all keeping healthy and safe during the pandemic. The Friends have continued to work on supporting the University through these challenging times. Since we are required to hold an Annual General Meeting, we held it virtually via Zoom on May 27 at 5:00 PM. We changed the agenda to just the business portion of the meeting and kept the time requirement to a minimum. Thirty one people attended – Thank You!

Three of the executive board members agreed to stay on another year and Andrea Sulyma stepped up to take on the Secretary role.  Thanks to all the volunteer board members for their contributions throughout the year.

We hope to meet in person soon (perhaps a Raise the Bar?) and continue championing the University of Alberta to the broader community.

Stay Safe!

 

 

Donation to Humanities 101

One of the Friend’s goals is to connect the community to the University. In support of this goal, we are proud to donate $5000 to the Faculty of Arts Community Service-Learning to contribute to the next two years of their program Humanities 101 (please read more about the program here).

Due to the pandemic, the Big Cheque was presented on May 27, 2020 via Zoom to Dr. David Peacock, Diane McKen and Lisa Prins. Most of the Friend’s board members were able to attend too.

This financial support comes at a critical time since many school programs have moved delivery of courses online and yet many HUM 101 students do not have internet and/or computers or tablets.