Quirks & Quarks

Canada 150: Forestry science, eugenics in Canada and our own great DNA discovery

Our final three commentaries on Canada's scientific legacy to mark Canada 150, from members of the Royal Society of Canada.
Canadians helped identify DNA as the carrier of genetic information. (Richard Wheeler, cc-by-sa-3.0)
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The final three installments of our commentaries on Canada's scientific legacy to mark Canada 150, from members of the Royal Society of Canada

Dr. Satinder Kuar Brar is a Professor of Environmental Biotechnology in the Institute National de la Recherche Scientifique, at the Université du Québec in Quebec City.  She celebrates the rich resource of Canada's forests, and the changes we've made from the early days of logging, to the era of modern forest management, and the new ways we're using our greatest natural resource.

Scenic view of Jacques-Cartier River valley from Andante montain, Jacques-Cartier National Park, Quebec. (Cephas/Wikimedia Commons)

 

Reem Bahdi an Associate Professor of Law at the University of Windsor, looks at one of the darker episodes in our history, and the connection science had with the eugenics movement. The legal apparatus in Canada that allowed for the sterilization of those deemed to be "less fit" — who, not coincidentally, were frequently poor, indigenous, or immigrant women — no longer exists, but the moral stain certainly persists. 
 

And Dr. Graham Bell, a Professor of Biology at McGill University and  former President of the Royal Society of Canada, looks back at one of the most influential, but least recognized discoveries by Canadian scientists.  In 1944 Oswald Avery and Colin MacLeod — along with American colleague Maclyn McCarty — identified DNA as the carrier of genetic information, setting the stage for the enormous discoveries of last 70 years of genetic science.
 
Special thanks to the Royal Society of Canada for inviting their members to help us mark Canada's 150th birthday.

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