In The News

CBC: At Three Little Pigs Lab, Western researchers break buildings to save them from hurricanes

September 13, 2017

How do you beat a hurricane? You could start by creating one of your own. As Hurricane Irma lashes the northern Caribbean with 295 km/h winds, a group of Western University engineers are replicating high-wind conditions to learn how to build structures that can withstand the worst windstorms. The research happens at what's officially called the Insurance Research Lab for Better Homes. Those who work there call it the Three Little Pigs research lab (think Big Bad Wolf). A tall steel building placed among the aircraft hangars near London's airport, the research facility is big enough to accommodate a typical two-storey building. To recreate hurricane-force winds in the lab, the researchers use a complicated system of fans that simulate the same suction forces that can peel roofs off buildings during severe storms. Read the full article here.

The Spectator: Collision Course: A report on concussions and football

September 7, 2017

Football can be a dangerous, brutal sport. It’s particularly bad for brains. So far, most of the supporting evidence for that has come from studying the brains of dead players. Today, we’re going to change that. For more than two years, The Spectator has been involved in a unique collaboration with a team of McMaster University researchers. We’ve been conducting sophisticated brain scanning experiments on nearly two dozen retired CFL football players to measure the long-term impacts of concussions and repeated hits to the head. We believe this is the first study anywhere to report findings from living former football players using such a wide array of tests. The results are “shocking,” one of our experts said. Read the full article, and the four-part series here.

CBC: How to safely watch the solar eclipse

August 18, 2017

With excitement leading up to the August 21 solar eclipse, people across North America are preparing to watch the event. But while tempting, there are a number of safety precautions one has to take before trying to catch a glimpse of the eclipse. "We just happen to live in this crazy geometric way that the earth, the moon and the sun are at just the right distance," he said. "It's very unique in our solar system and maybe unique in our galaxy." The last time there was a total solar eclipse in Canada was 1979, said Frank Seglenieks, and he remembers it well. "They made everybody sit in the gymnasium," the coordinator for the University of Waterloo's Weather Centre told CBC. Read the full article here.

EurekAlert: Lower prenatal stress reduces risk of behavioral issues in kids

August 17, 2017

Parenting is a complicated journey full of questions, and when a beloved child begins to show signs of a behavioural disorder, a parent's challenges become even more difficult to navigate. Expectant mothers may want to consider adopting today's trend towards stress management, in light of new research from the University of Ottawa pointing to its ability to lower the risk of problematic behaviour in their offspring. Dr. Ian Colman, associate professor at the University of Ottawa's Faculty of Medicine, led a team of researchers in examining data from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children. The team found that mothers who experience significant prenatal stress may be increasing their child's risk for behavioural issues. Read the full article here.

Trent University specialists study the urban habitat of the Brook trout population in Peterborough

August 14, 2017

Brook trout, one of only two indigenous trout species in Canada, prefer to live in cold, fast-running streams. But the exact requirements to support a healthy population in an urban setting are unknown. The study by Trent University in conjunction with the Kawartha Field Naturalists is designed to find out exactly what Brook trout require. The population under study live in Harper Creek, which runs along the south edge of the city of Peterborough. Staff have spent the month of July, studying which parts of the creek the trout gather in and will revisit the areas to note any changes. Read the full article here.

The Conversation: How to kill fruit flies, according to a scientist

August 10, 2017

As a researcher who works on fruit flies, I often get asked how to get them out of someone’s kitchen. This happens to fly researchers often enough that we sit around fly conferences (these actually exist) and complain about getting asked this question. Meanwhile, we watch the same fruit flies buzz around our beers instead of discussing pithy and insightful questions about the research that we’re pursuing. But I get it: Fruit flies are annoying. So, fine, here’s how we get rid of them in my lab: We build a trap. It’s not perfect, but it’s OK. Read the full article here.