New Professors Lecture Program - Spring 2015

Lecturer: Tuan Bui (BIO)

Biography: Dr. Bui is an assistant professor in the Department of Biology at the University of Ottawa. Upon completing an undergraduate degree in Math and Engineering at Queen’s University, he completed a PhD in Physiology at Queen’s University under the supervision of Dr. Ken Rose. His thesis topic was the integration of synaptic inputs by spinal motoneurons to properly control muscle activation. Dr. Bui then spent several years as a postdoctoral fellow with Dr. Rob Brownstone in the department of Medical Neuroscience at Dalhousie University. His research program uses an array of electrophysiological, behavioural, immunocytochemical and computational methods to understand how the nervous system controls movement.

Title: The importance of an early spinal reflex in controlling our movements

Abstract: Circuits composed of neurons in the spinal cord are necessary and sufficient for generating most of the movements we effect on a daily basis.  From rudimentary movements such as walking to more complex maneuvers such as skillfully playing an instrument, these motor acts are executed through the recruitment of spinal circuits by the brain. Despite the fundamental importance of these spinal circuits to the function of all vertebrates, there is very little that is known about the composition of these spinal circuits and even less about how they come to enable proper movements. A recent approach to studying spinal circuits is based upon the identification of neuron populations that have shared molecular identities – i.e. common sets of proteins that define such properties as morphology, connectivity, ion channels and activity patterns. I demonstrate that using this approach, I have been able to identify a population of spinal neurons that mediates a reflex that is seen in newborns. Furthermore, I show that this reflex that disappears during development is actually critical for certain types of movements and may also be of great utility to the recovery of lost motor function following spinal cord trauma or neurodegeneration.

Lecturer: Corry Harris (BIO)

Biography: Born and raised in Toronto, Cory Harris obtained his BSc in plant biology at the University of British Columbia before returning eastward for his PhD studying the chemistry and pharmacology of herbal medicines here at the University of Ottawa.  With a continued focus on ethnobotany and the roles of plants in health, he completed postdoctoral fellowships at McGill’s School of Dietetics and Human Nutrition, the Centre for Indigenous Peoples Nutrition and Environment, and the Lady Davis Institute for Medical Research in Montréal. Cory joined the University of Ottawa’s Department of Biology in July 2013 and applies an interdisciplinary and collaborative approach to evaluate the chemistry, bioactivity and potential applications of North American plants and their phytochemicals.

Title: Tapping the biological and chemical diversity of Canada's plants

Abstract: Plant metabolites are vital to global ecosystems and economies. Ecologically, they sustain food chains, mediate interspecific interactions, and shape co-evolutionary relationships. Economically, humans harness plant chemistry for nutrition, medicine, pesticides, biofuels and other industrial or cultural purposes. In Canada, despite unsurpassed boreal and arctic biodiversity, distinct southern ecosystems and rich systems of indigenous traditional knowledge, scientific knowledge of our native flora remains surprisingly fragmented. Moreover, while plant ecophysiology and human exploitation are fundamentally linked through phytochemical bioactivity, the two perspectives are seldom integrated and explored for reciprocal insight. During this seminar, I will draw on past and ongoing research to present my interdisciplinary approach to studying plant taxa and metabolites of economic and ecological significance.

Lecturer: Albert Stolow (CHM / PHY)

Biography: Albert Stolow is the Canada Research Chair in Molecular Photonics at the University of Ottawa and is Professor of Chemistry & Physics and a Member of the Ottawa Institute for Systems Biology at the University of Ottawa. He founded the Molecular Photonics Group at the National Research Council Canada where he retains an ongoing research program. He is also Adjunct Professor of Chemistry and Professor of Physics at Queen’s University in Kingston. Stolow was also appointed a Graduate Faculty Scholar in the Department of Physics (CREOL), University of Central Florida. His group's research interests include ultrafast molecular dynamics and quantum control, strong field & attosecond physics of polyatomic molecules, and coherent non-linear optical microscopy of live cells and tissues.

Stolow studied Chemistry and Physics at Queen’s University and then obtained his Ph.D. degree in Physical Chemistry from the University of Toronto in 1988, studying under Nobel Laureate John C. Polanyi. Stolow was an NSERC post-doctoral fellow at the University of California, Berkeley from 1989-1992 where he worked with Nobel Laureate Yuan T. Lee.

In fall 1992, Stolow joined the National Research Council in Ottawa where he established laboratories and research programs for the study of ultrafast molecular dynamics and quantum control. In 2014, he assumed the Canada Research Chair (Tier 1) in Molecular Photonics at the University of Ottawa (Departments of Chemistry & Physics). Stolow is a Fellow of both the American Physical Society and the Optical Society of America, has won several national prizes and sits on the editorial boards of numerous international journals, as well as the review panels of the Stanford Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS), the Munich Centre for Advanced Photonics (MAP) and the Stanford PULSE Institute, amongst other.

Title: Coherent Nonlinear Optical Microscopy:  Label Free Imaging of Live Cells and Tissues

Abstract: Normally, cells or tissues are dyed or stained in order to obtain contrast between different parts. However, for live cells, it is not clear what these stains will do to the complex biochemistry inside living cells. It would be best to add nothing at all. But then how would we achieve contrast in imaging? It turns out that nonlinear optics offers unique opportunities for label-free but molecule specific imaging in live cells and tissues. The basic ideas of coherent nonlinear vibrational (Raman) spectroscopy / microscopy will be described. The world’s first commercially available coherent nonlinear Raman microscope was developed by our lab in collaboration with Olympus Corp.

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