ACCN’s final issue of 2013 presents an engaging line up of stories to end the year. National Research Council (NRC) President John McDougall sat down with news editor Tyler Irving to address the controversial changes that have been under way for several years at the nearly century-old institution. As McDougall says, the refocusing of the NRC to support business-driven innovation is meant to alleviate Canada’s historical lag in research and development. Of concern for many ACCN readers is the shift away from fundamental, curiosity-driven research. Whether you approve of these policy changes or not, the wide-ranging interview with McDougall is well worth the read.

ACCN contributor Nicola Jones takes a look at Alberta’s oil patch as the industry tries to find innovative ways to cope with the massive pollution problems created by bitumen tailing ponds and emissions. Efforts embrace both mechanical and chemical solutions, such as organic solvents other than water to enhance bitumen extraction. With Alberta’s oil industry undergoing rapid expansion, it is vital that initiatives to reduce pollution have a commensurate growth trajectory.

ACCN also embarks on an exploration of the world of natural products chemistry, showcasing coast-to-coast research. With humanity’s ancient scourges developing ever-greater resistance to traditional drugs, chemists are in a race to find new ways of fighting old diseases like cancer, tuberculosis and malaria. The solution, it would seem, lies in the microorganisms populating our oceans and unexplored landmasses.

Finally, it is with regret we bid adieu to Irving, whose writing and editing skills and deep knowledge of chemistry have been key to the success of ACCN. Irving is now the new media officer at the Science Media Centre of Canada, which helps disseminate science to Canadian journalists. I am sure that I speak for all readers when I wish Irving the best in his new endeavours. Luckily, science writer Tim Lougheed has agreed to step into Irving’s shoes as interim news editor. Lougheed, who hails from Ottawa, has penned many an ACCN story as a freelancer. He brings with him a wealth of experience: a former president of the Canadian Science Writers’ Association, Lougheed has written hundreds of science articles for prestigious national and international publications and has worked with government, academia and the private sector.

Here’s wishing you and yours a happy holiday and a prosperous New Year. See you in 2014!