Presentations and Speakers (2019)

The Sky is Falling! Or is it? Using Science to Separate Fact from Fiction

Dr. Matthew Lukeman, Chemistry

We see all sorts of conflicting claims made on blogs, TV, and social media every day.  We see ads for products that promise to help us look younger, get slimmer, or become healthier, yet at the same time told to live ‘chemical-free’ lifestyles.  We are told that approved food additives are safe to eat, while others urge us to only eat organic food.  Some advise us to always wear sunscreen, and others tell us that it will give us cancer.  Some tell us to vaccinate our children, while others tell us that vaccines cause autism or other diseases.

Who can we trust?  Who is making these claims, and why do they want us to believe their message?  What are some trustworthy sources of sound information, and how can we identify sources that cannot be trusted?  We will look into a number of these claims and see how using scientific thinking can help us sort out what is true and what isn’t. 

About Dr. Lukeman

Dr. Matthew Lukeman grew up in Antigonish and earned a B.Sc. from StFX in 1999 before moving to BC for his Ph.D. in Chemistry from UVic. After completing his postdoctorate at the uOttawa, Dr. Lukeman began his career at Acadia. He has taught at Acadia for almost 10 years and lives nearby with his wife and two young daughters.

Psychology in Everyday Life

Dr. Randy Lynn Newman, Psychology

Dr. Newman will use audience demonstrations to highlight several research areas in psychology and explore how scientists working in these areas impact our understanding of brain and behaviour.

About Dr. Newman

Dr. Newman has been a faculty member at Acadia University since 2006, where she is a Full Professor in the Department of Psychology. Randy’s primary research interest is in the area of Cognitive Neuroscience, where she studies the brain’s role in reading and speech comprehension. Randy has received numerous teaching awards, including the 2016 Associate Alumni of Acadia University Distinguished Faculty Award for Teaching Excellence. Randy is passionate about her role as a leader with Women in Science & Engineering (WISE) Acadia, and with the work she does as a member of Acadia’s Women’s & Gender Studies Program. She has worked on numerous committees at Acadia to promote equity and diversity, and is regarded as a strong advocate for the engagement, recruitment and retention of girls and young women in science. She is a TEDx speaker, and has delivered numerous talks to academia, government, and industry on issues related to women in science. Randy balances her career at Acadia while happily raising two young daughters, Olivia and Madeleine, alongside her husband Robert. 

Debunking Nutrition Myths

Prof. Barb Anderson, Nutrition

Do you have to give up your favourite foods to be healthy? Does lemon water burn fat? Should we all be going gluten-free? There is a lot of interest in topics about food and nutrition amongst youth. Along with this has emerged an incredible amount of misinformation, and much of it comes through social media. In this interactive session, Professor Barb Anderson from the School of Nutrition and Dietetics will debunk some of the most common myths and you’ll leave knowing how to spot nutrition misinformation.

About Professor Anderson

Barb Anderson is a Professor and Director of the School of Nutrition and Dietetics at Acadia University, assuming this position in 2009 after a 30-year career with Nova Scotia Public Health. Her research focus is food security, having been involved with the NS Food Security projects for over 15 years. Barb is interested in working with the local community around healthy food issues, and as a result has developed a partnership between the Wolfville Farmer’s Market and the Nutrition Department.

Barb was President of the Nova Scotia Dietetic Association, Chair of Dietitians of Canada, and President of the Canadian Foundation for Dietetic Research. She is  a Fellow of Dietitians of Canada, a past recipient of the Ryley Jeffs Memorial Lecture Award, and a Life Member of both the Nova Scotia Dietetic Association and Dietitians of Canada. Barb was the ‘nutrition voice’ on the CBC radio phone-in program in the Maritimes for 20 years, and has been an invited speaker at over 35 provincial, national, and international conferences.

Fun facts: Barb manages @AcadiaNutrition Twitter and she really likes teaching, especially Community Nutrition. She received an award from the students at the end-of-year banquet a few years back, ‘Person most likely to succeed Dumbledore at Hogwarts’ – that is as meaningful as all the other awards she has received :)

Are Plastic Bags a Problem?

Dr. David Duke, Environmental and Sustainability Studies/History

Sometimes, we may be inclined to 'go with our gut', or base decisions on our day-to-day observations. But when it's time to act, we should make policies that are data-driven.

Our knee-jerk reaction when we see plastic pollution caused by single-use plastic shopping bags is to ban them. But the data suggests that alternative policies might be better, and that plastic's not that bad...

About Dr. Duke

David Duke came to Acadia from the University of Alberta on a short-term contract in 1999 and is still here, now serving as Professor in the Department of History and Classics. He also teaches in Acadia's Environment and Sustainability Studies program, having served as its director from 2012 to 2018. Born near Liverpool, England, he emigrated to Canada in the early 1980s and lived in Alberta for eighteen years before "coming home" to Nova Scotia. His academic areas of expertise are the history of Russia and the USSR, the history of science, and environmental history, and he teaches in all these areas. He has also published in the fields of Central Asian politics and history, and in Canadian environmental history as well. Prior to coming to Acadia he completed his Ph.D. at the University of Alberta, teaching there for a number of years, as well as teaching Canadian history in Minsk, the capital of the former Soviet republic of Belarus in the early 1990s. He thinks that your generation is the one that's finally going to make the big choices surrounding our environment and the health of our planet, and you're going to be amazing at it.

Physics Fact or Physics Fiction? Deciphering Some Physics Misconceptions and Untruths in the Age of Information Overload

Dr. Anna Kiefte, Physics

At this moment in human history, there is more information available than ever before through the internet and other mass media sources.  This provides all of us with an unprecedented opportunity to learn and grow as human beings.  Unfortunately, many ideas presented to us are compelling and appear legitimate but are not actually correct.  While there is a place for opinions and values, certain decisions in our lives and in our society should be made based on facts and scientifically-supported results.  It is more important than ever that we all develop the ability to discern between facts, opinions, and fiction when consuming and processing the vast amount of information available.  This talk will provide an overview of some big ideas and subject areas in physics and will also look at a few false physics ideas or concepts that are propagated online through memes, images, videos, and websites.  At times light-hearted and at times serious, the talk will also touch on the importance of evidence-based decision making. 

About Dr. Kiefte

Anna Kiefte is a physicist and educator. She has been an Instructor in the Department of Physics at Acadia University since 2006, where she teaches courses and labs, and coordinates and supervises the department’s teaching assistants. Anna studied physics at Memorial University and the University of Toronto. Since that time, Anna has worked at a science centre as a science educator and has taught physics, math, and computer science as a high school, community college, and university teacher. Anna’s professional passions lie in challenging herself, her students, and others to better understand scientific concepts (especially in physics!), helping people work more effectively together and individually toward their goals, and trying to contribute in small ways to making the world a slightly better place.

Chemistry in Action!

Dr. Vlad Zamlynny, Chemistry

Join us for an exciting demonstration of a selected set of interesting chemical reactions and physical properties, including liquid nitrogen and blasting gummie bears. Kids, don't try this at home!

About Dr. Zamlynny

Dr. Vlad Zamlynny was born in a small Ukrainian town. He studied chemistry in Ukraine and then moved to Canada as a student receiving a M.Sc. and Ph.D. in physical and analytical chemistry from the University of Guelph, Ontario. He currently teaches physical, surface/colloid, analytical, and general chemistry at Acadia University. His research interests include the development of modern infrared spectroscopic techniques to study the behaviour of small organic molecules at metal surfaces. Turns out, one can manipulate these molecules by charging metals with electricity which makes them move. These changes can be observed in situ (that is, as they happen directly at the metal surface) using advanced infrared techniques. The information gained during these observations is useful industrially (for corrosion prevention) as well as scientifically (for developing new techniques that can determine molecular level information about surface chemistry). When Vlad is not teaching, he enjoys fishing, mushroom hunting, running, hiking, skiing, skating, swimming, surfing and many other year-round outdoor family activities.