From the Editor

Roberta Staley
Summer 2017

There is a chance that, while reading this magazine, you’re waiting to either embark or disembark a plane or are already soaring high in the stratosphere en route to a summer destination. And, while the skies around you may seem empty, in reality it’s pretty crowded. Depending upon the time and day of the week, your tubular metal craft might be one of 11,000-plus planes circling the globe at any one time. The problem with this, of course, is the amount of greenhouse gases that all those planes are emitting. In “Green skies ahead,” we explore how Canadian innovation, via the Biojet Supply Chain Initiative, is developing renewable biofuel to reduce the airline industry’s environmental impact. 

Another feature, “Lords of the ring,” has been penned by a new contributor to the Canadian Chemical News, Lesley Evans Ogden.  A former field ecologist-turned-science journalist, Evans Ogden writes for New Scientist, Scientific American and Nature, among other publications, and contributes to CBC’s The Nature of Things. For this issue, Evans Ogden looked at the University of Toronto’s Elizabeth Edwards’s research into benzene, which is released into the environment via petroleum production or storage. Edwards is investigating how anaerobic benzene-devouring microbes thrive in contaminated groundwater. 

On a different microbial front, Queen’s University chemistry professor David Zechel is looking at the bacteria responsible for cleaning up glyphosate, the key ingredient in the herbicide Roundup. The story “Mighty enzymes” reveals how glyphosate-degrading pathways in bacteria could offer alternatives for the bioremediation of glyphosate-contaminated areas.

Chemistry Briefs presents some fascinating stories, including how thapsigargin, a molecule extracted from the poisonous Mediterranean plant Thapsia garganica, has become a powerful weapon in the oncologist’s arsenal. We also look at the innovative research underway at Vancouver’s Nano One Materials Corporation, which is developing improved lithium batteries. Finally, we enter academia, looking at a newly published textbook titled Process Modelling and Simulation for Chemical Engineers, which takes students from the first principles of defining a system or a process and then develops the mathematical capabilities to engage with real world cases.

Have a great summer and see you in the fall!