“Buttergate” puts palm oil supplements on the stand

LEARN

When Calgary-based food writer Julie Van Rosendaal asked followers in a social media post last month whether they too were finding butter was no longer soft at room temperature, her “buttergate” musings went viral. But the questions she raised about butter’s chemistry were perhaps just as intriguing as the media storm she unleashed.

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Q&A on teaching with Leah Martin-Visscher, MCIC

CELEBRATE

Leah Martin-Visscher is an Associate Professor of Chemistry at The King’s University, Edmonton and the 2021 winner of the Margaret-Ann Armour Award for Early Career Chemistry Education. Her research with undergraduates explores the use of bacteriophages and antimicrobial peptides for food preservation. CIC News recently asked Martin-Visscher to share some insights from the classroom.

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Methane leaks from abandoned oil and gas wells underestimated

CHEMISTRY FOR ENERGY AND THE ENVIRONMENT

When Mary Kang landed an environmental policy fellowship at Princeton University in 2012, she decided to model methane emissions from abandoned oil and gas wells. It didn’t take long to discover a major roadblock. “I couldn’t find any data. And you need data for modelling,” recalls Kang, now a civil engineering professor at McGill University.

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Clean energy hub makes its debut

LEARN

Catalyst (noun): an agent that provokes or speeds significant change or action. ‘Catalyst for change’ is such a well-worn phrase that it has lost much of its descriptive power. But in the case of a new materials research centre in Mississauga, it is apt on so many levels that it’s hard to avoid.

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New life-saving medical isotopes

CHEMISTRY FOR HEALTH

In 1971, U.S. researchers published a proof-of-concept showing how a cyclotron could produce the world’s most commonly used medical isotope. For the next four decades, the paper sat on a shelf. In 2009, University of British Columbia radiologist Dr. François Bénard dusted it off and thought, ‘Why not try to develop that technology?’

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Raising a stink

CHEMISTRY FOR ENERGY AND THE ENVIRONMENT

When something fails to pass the ‘sniff test’ – whether it’s a plan of action or the milk in the back of the fridge – it’s often best to leave it be. But when it comes to unpleasant odours in the air, we don’t have much choice. We have to breathe.

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Q&A on teaching with Mark Workentin, FCIC

EDUCATION

Mark Workentin, FCIC, is a professor of chemistry at Western University who is lauded for his entertaining and rigorous organic chemistry classes. He is a multi award-winning university teacher with honours including the OCUFA Excellence in Teaching Award and Western’s Pleva and Marilyn Robinson Awards. CIC NEWS recently asked Workentin to share some insights from his years behind the lectern. (Although he says he rarely stands at the lectern).

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The Story of CO2

PUBLICATIONS

University of Toronto chemists team up to tell us why we need not fear this small molecule Geoffrey Ozin leans in close to his computer’s camera as he warms to his subject –- the many products that can be made with waste CO2 captured from industrial processes. “Aspirin!” exclaims the University of Toronto materials chemist....

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Mapping metals in feathers

ENVIRONMENT

Researchers shine a (very) bright light on duck feathers, revealing a sensitive technique for environmental monitoring. Like the proverbial canary in a coal mine, birds of all kind can act as sentinels for toxic metals in the environment. Now agricultural and environmental scientists are discovering that birds – or more accurately their feathers – can...

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Queen’s chemist was a ‘joyful warrior’

CIC MEMBERS

In the early 1980s, China sent a select group of 100 graduate students to study abroad – the first to leave the country since the Cultural Revolution. Ninety-seven young men and three young women, including the late Suning Wang, FCIC, made that ground-breaking journey. A whip-smart,...

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Chicken, chocolate and celiac disease

RESEARCH & INNOVATION

What do poultry, chocolate, bananas and cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower have in common? They all contain an essential amino acid called tryptophan, which launches a biochemical chain reaction in the body that controls intestinal inflammation and keeps the gut barrier healthy. In people with celiac disease though, that reaction is impaired,...

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Tracking COVID-19 with wastewater

HEALTH & SAFETY

How the virus’s chemical signature gives advance warning of the rise and fall of community transmission. As the pandemic’s second wave tightens its grip across the country, researchers, municipalities, and public health agencies are experimenting with a COVID-19 early warning system that tests wastewater for the virus’s unique chemical signature. Swab tests for the coronavirus are expensive and we aren’t capturing enough data for a true picture of how many people are infected, say epidemiologists.

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