Happy New Year! Hope you had a fabulous holiday season with friends and loved ones. 

We at the Canadian Chemical News have come up with something special as a way to help ring in 2016. In recognition of the country’s young chemists and chemical engineers, we’ve launched a new column called “Class Distinction.” Every issue, we’ll profile an inspirational chemical science or engineering student as a way to acknowledge the important role that they play in Canada’s future. The inaugural student is undergraduate Jeff Kerkovius of the University of British Columbia Okanagan, who is looking to create molecules that will change the world. 

Youth is also celebrated in the feature story “Olympiad Glory,” which details the enormous commitment and preparation that it takes for Canadian students to make it to the prestigious annual International Chemistry Olympiad (IChO). Last July, competing against nearly 300 of the brightest high school chemistry minds in the world, students Spencer Zhao, Scott Xiao, Alexander Cui and Jeff An made Canada proud, bringing home two silver and two bronze medals at the 47th IChO in Baku, Azerbaijan.

Our cover story, “Green Death,” addresses an offbeat topic: human decomposition and its cornucopia of chemical processes. The story was inspired by a nascent movement in North America that eschews conventional methods of burial, including the use of formaldehyde and coffins. Instead, the body is placed in a hole in the ground, allowing nature to run its course. 

Our third feature, “Risky Business,” takes us to the West Coast, where the British Columbia government is pushing 20 liquefied natural gas (LNG) projects, touted as the path to economic prosperity. One LNG terminal will be built in the fjord of Howe Sound, 65 kilometres north of Vancouver. However, numerous opponents worry about the possibility of a vapour dispersion event — a spill of LNG over water that creates a cloud of natural gas. Such a cloud is potentially flammable. 

The always interesting Chemical News section doesn’t disappoint this issue. Stories include an analysis of the demise of the Keystone XL pipeline, how the sharing economy — helped by the creation of the online database QReserve — is being embraced by chemistry laboratories, as well as a warning look at how Volkswagen’s rigging of its computer-controlled diesel engines could easily happen in any modern, diesel-fuelled vehicle. 
Enjoy the read!