Canadian budget pushes applied research

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With six months to go before the next Canadian election, the reigning Conservative party has introduced a budget that emphasizes applied research and scientific collaboration with industry.

The 518-page proposal, released on 21 April, will take effect in coming weeks. It spells out how Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government plans to balance its budget this year — at the same time pledging plenty of new spending in years ahead.

The Canada Foundation for Innovation would receive Can$1.33 billion (US$1.09 billion) in new money for university and hospital research facilities, to be doled out over six years beginning in 2017. The budget also includes a modest 2% hike for the country’s research funding councils, much of it targeted for areas “that will fuel economic growth.” Continue reading . . .

China’s academic ‘black market’ fooled Canadian journal, report says

Several scientific papers advertised under “authorship for sale” by Chinese brokers and editing shops have later appeared in established journals, the U.S. journal Science says.
Several scientific papers advertised under “authorship for sale” by Chinese brokers and editing shops have later appeared in established journals, the U.S. journal Science says.PHOTO: SYLVAIN THOMAS/AFP/GETTY IMAGES/FILE
Published: November 28, 2013
Some of Canada’s top brain specialists have apparently been duped by shady operators in China. The Canadian doctors approved and recently published a scientific report on Alzheimer’s disease that came from a “flourishing” academic black market in China, according to a report released Thursday. “China’s publication bazaar,” as it is described, allows unscrupulous scientists to pay big money — up to  $26,300 — to become authors of scientific papers they didn’t write. They don’t do any experiments or research either, according to the report in the U.S. journal Science that adds a creative, if disturbing, twist to research misconduct.

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Melting glaciers in Canada’s Arctic stoking sea-level rise

 

Researcher heading for a time-lapse camera  monitoring ice calving from the Belcher Glacier on  Devon Island, Nunavut. Photo ~ Alex Gardner

Researcher heading for a time-lapse camera monitoring ice calving from the Belcher Glacier on Devon Island, Nunavut.
Photo ~ Alex Gardner

May 16, 2013 _ The Laurentide ice sheet once entombed Canada in two kilometres of ice, but all that is left is a blob of ice on Baffin Island now shrinking at a remarkable rate.

A new study says glaciers around the world are contributing almost as much to the rise of the world’s oceans as the Greenland and Antarctica ice sheets combined.

“And the largest contributor of all the regions is the Canadian Arctic,” says US glaciologist Alex Gardner, at Clark University, lead author the international study to be published Friday in the journal Science. Continue reading

Plight of the pollinators seen as a threat to global crops

The wild Andrena bee visiting blueberry flowers ~ Rufus Isaacs photo

The wild Andrena bee visiting blueberry flowers ~ Rufus Isaacs photo

February 28, 2013The tricoloured bumble bee used to flit around blueberry fields in the Maritimes pollinating flowers and helping deliver bumper berry crops.

Not anymore.

“In the 1990s it started to really decline,” says Steven Javorek, a landscape ecologist with Agriculture Canada. He says the once-common bee with its distinct orange belt is now rarely seen, joining the growing list of wild pollinators in trouble.

While they may be lowly insects, Javorek and his colleagues have amassed evidence that their demise is not just an environmental concern but a threat to global food production.

In an international study released Thursday they say wild pollinators are critical, if often overlooked and abused, players in agriculture.

They pollinate crops more effectively than honeybees leading to twice as many flowers developing into fruit and seed, the researchers report in their study in the journal Science.

Without steps to conserve wild pollinators and protect their habitats “the ongoing loss of wild insects is destined to compromise agricultural yields worldwide,” the scientists warn. Continue reading

‘Arsenic life’ debunked by UBC microbiologist

UBC Microbiologist Rosie Redfield helped debunk arsenic life study.
PHOTO: NATURE AND MARTIN DEE
Published: July 9, 2012
By Margaret Munro
Two of the biggest players in the research world — NASA and the journal Science — were wrong when they told the world that microbes scooped from a California lake had rewritten the rules of life.

In what is being described as a case of “serial failure,” they took shoddy research, and overhyped it.

“It was a cascade of human failures,” says Rosie Redfield of the University of British Columbia, who heads one of two research teams who disproved the original claims in new research published this week. Continue reading

Scientists urge Harper to rescind cuts to basic research

Vancouver Sun Jun 6 2012

By Margaret Munro  Postmedia News

Opposition to federal science cuts is getting louder, with top researchers and academics urging the Harper government to rescind curbs on basic research and its plan to close a unique experimental lakes facility.

An open letter to Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the environment and fisheries ministers was released Tues-day, denouncing the decision to stop funding the Experimental Lakes Area, a celebrated federal research facility in northwestern Ontario which was instrumental in banning phosphorus in deter-gents and stopping acid rain.

Meanwhile, Steve Perry, the dean of science at the University of Ottawa, has fired off a letter to Harper and several cabinet ministers decrying recent cuts to discovery-based science programs. Continue reading

Feds muzzle scientist over salmon study

Wed Jul 27 2011 Vancouver Sun

By Margaret Munro
Postmedia News

Top bureaucrats in Ottawa have muzzled a leading fisheries scientist based on Vancouver Island whose discovery could help explain why salmon stocks have been crashing off Canada’s West Coast, according to documents obtained by Postmedia News.

The documents show the Privy Council Office, which supports the Prime Minister’s Office, stopped Kristi Miller from talking about one of the most significant discoveries to come out of a federal fisheries lab in years.

Science, one of the world’s top research journals, published Miller’s findings in January. The journal considered the work so significant it notified “over 7,400” journalists worldwide about Miller’s “Suffering Salmon” study.

Science told Miller to “please feel free to speak with journalists.”

It advised reporters to contact Diane Lake, a media officer with the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans in Vancouver, “to set up interviews with Dr. Miller.”

Miller heads a $6-million salmon genetics project at the federal Pacific Biological Station on Vancouver Island.

The documents show major media outlets were soon lining up to speak with Miller, but the Privy Council Office said no to the interviews.

The Privy Council Office also quashed a Fisheries Department news release about Miller’s study, saying the release “was not very good, focused Continue reading