Archive for the 'yorku' category

The Toronto Star: Science Ink FTW, Science Books FTL

First the good news.

Saturday's Toronto Star had a really nice little piece on the trend among some Toronto-area science grad students to get a sign of their scientific passion tattooed onto their bodies.

T.D. MacDonald fact-checked the design five times before he let one drop of ink penetrate his skin.

"I didn't want to have an incorrect chemical structure on my body," he says, recounting the long hours he spent creating his tattoo. "The way it is oriented in space had to be right."

That his ink is accurate matters to him, of course.

But few of us would know the strangely beautiful tattoo that encircles MacDonald's upper right arm is composed of amino acids -- let alone whether they were in the correct configuration.

Tattoos, traditionally proclamations of passion, are no less so for scientists like MacDonald who, beneath lab coats and t-shirts, are baring their skin to get a permanent emblem of their infatuations, whether mathematical equation or phylogenetic tree.

The article is accompanied online by a gallery of some additional tattooed scientists and an interview with Science Ink
author Carl Zimmer.

Q. What tattoos have you seen most often?

A. A lot of DNA tattoos. A lot of people have the number pi. Those are the two most common ones. If someone sends me a tattoo and says, 'Look! I've got pi on my arm!' I have to say, I'm not particularly impressed. Now, on the other hand, if that person has the first 200 digits of pi written out on their arm -- that's nice.

A very cool article, very cool gallery (and a special shout out to York U tweep Jesse Rogerson) and very cool interview. It's also worth noting that Science Online 2012 looks to have an interesting sideline emphasis on science tattoos, mostly due to the perennial presence of Carl Zimmer as an attendee.

And now for the not-so-good news.

As you may know, this time of year I post a whole bunch of Best Science Books 2011 lists here on the blog. They aggregate the sciencey books from all the "Year's Best" lists I can find.

Well, also on Saturday The Star posted its list of the 100 best books of the year, as chosen by their crew of reviewers.

And guess how many science books are on that list?

Zero. Not one single science book. Out of a hundred.

A pathetically limited choice by reviewers with strangely limited tastes.

The list of reviewers, for those that are interested:

  • Sarah Murdoch
  • Michel Basiliere
  • Nancy Wigston
  • Laura Eggertson
  • Christine Sismondo
  • James Macgowan
  • James Grainger
  • Emily Donaldson
  • Barbara Carey
  • Jennifer Hunter

(Jack Batten's top 10 mystery novels was also included in the list.)

The closest thing to a science book was Tropic of Chaos: Climate Change and the New Geography of Violence by Michael Parenti which is about human migrations caused by climate change.

I'll admit to being very disappointed with The Star. Their science coverage hasn't been fantastic lately, in any part of the paper. But here, within the very same issue, they are trying to capitalize on a young, hip, sexy "image" for science people while at the same time totally ignoring terrific reporting on the vast amounts of actual science going on in the world. I'm at a loss for words. They should be embarrassed.

For what it's worth, The Globe and Mail did a much better job.

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The York University Lassonde School of Engineering: Announcement followup & Storify

Before heading off to the Charleston Conference last week, I blogged about the big announcement of Pierre Lassonde's big $25 million donation to York to found the Lassonde School of Engineering.

I attended the announcement and livetweeted it quite extensively: here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here.

I also created a Storify story of a fair bit of the quite extensive twitter traffic of the annoucement and that is here. I've embedded the Story at the end of this post. It's mostly tweeting form the day of the announcement but I have added quite a few more since then.

Also, some of the internal press release, bloggy and other coverage:

[View the story "York University Engineering Expansion Annoucement" on Storify]

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Pierre Lassonde, York University and renaissance engineers

Nov 01 2011 Published by under Canada, education, engineering, yorku

It's a big day here at York University, especially for us science & engineering types both within the Faculty of Science and Engineering and those of us who support their teaching and research missions. There's a big announcement about the coming expansion of our engineering programs to include many of the more traditional streams, such as electrical and others.

The details are being announced today at a news conference at 1pm. I'll be there livetweeting as will others, I imagine.

There was a first announcement a little while back about some government money that was being committed.

Today's will likely revolve around a large gift of $25 million from Canadian engineering entrepreneur Pierre Lassonde.

There's a nice article in the Globe and Mail today by James Bradshaw: Mining entrepreneur's university donation digging for 'renaissance engineers'.

When mining entrepreneur Pierre Lassonde announces a $25-million gift to York University on Tuesday, he's hoping it will do more than build a new engineering school - he wants to help groom a generation of "renaissance engineers."

*snip*

"You are an engineer, but at the same time you are an artist and you have to be able to tell the world how what you're doing is going to benefit the world," Mr. Lassonde said, leaning across a boardroom table at the Toronto offices of the mining and energy royalty company Franco Nevada, where he is chairman.

*snip*

York has wanted a full-scale engineering school since 1963, yet still has only about 300 students in specialized programs such as geomatics engineering. Now it is spending $100-million, including Mr. Lassonde's money and $50-million from the province, on a new faculty and building expected to hold 2,000 students by 2020.

Mr. Lassonde is hoping that York engineering will grow to be a leader in interdisciplinary learning and industry partnerships.

"I wouldn't accept being second to anybody, and this is our aspiration," said York president Mamdouh Shoukri, a former engineering dean.

*snip*

He knows it is not a new idea that grads should be flexible, entrepreneurial and socially conscious. Engineers are already required to complete an eighth of their studies in humanities and social sciences, and cross-disciplinary programs have proliferated. In the past decade, the University of Waterloo has added engineering streams such as mechatronics, nanotechnology and management, all of which are based partly in other departments. Its systems-design degree even has a faculty member jointly appointed from the philosophy department.

And some more detailed information from York Computer Science & Engineering professor Andrew Eckford: Big news for York Engineering .

With the donation, the university's goal is to move away from the "niche" engineering programs currently in the program, and become a full-fledged "traditional" engineering school. You can expect York to add traditional engineering disciplines like civil, mechanical, and chemical over the next few years.

However, it's electrical engineering that will take the lead in expansion. I am chairing the committee that will write the EE proposal, and we're operating under the assumption that the first students will be admitted in 2013. I'll try to blog more about our progress as things develop.

And I'll certainly second Andrew's final words in his post, "For now, it's definitely an exciting time to be at York."

Yes, it'll certainly be an exciting time! And as Engineering Librarian it's going to get pretty fun and busy for me too!

Update 4pm: I did a ton of live tweeting of the announcement, some of which is here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here. The most significant new information revolves around naming the new engineering school The Lassonde School of Engineering. As well, what is now the Computer Science and Engineering Building will be known as the Lassonde Building.

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Reference Assistant, Steacie Science & Engineering Library, York University

Jul 20 2011 Published by under job, yorku

Come work for me!

We have an 11 month opening here at my library for a reference assistant. The position doesn't require the library degree but a science background will be necessary.

The posting is here.

Posting Number: YUSA-7393
Position Title: Reference Assistant
Department: Steacie Science Library
Affiliation: YUSA
Band: 10
Salary: Annual salary of $51,439 will be prorated based on the number of weeks worked.
Duration: Temporary Full-Time
Hours: Fall/Winter (Sept to April): Mon. to Fri.; 9:00 am - 5:00 pm. Require to work a 12:00 noon to 8:00 p.m. shift one day per week. May be required to work an occasional weekend shift.
Position Start Date: August 15, 2011 Position End Date: July 31, 2012

Purpose:
The Reference Assistant is primarily responsible for providing information and assisting with reference enquiries in science and technology for library users. This position is also responsible for user outreach through the use of web technologies and for providing support for resolving basic computing problems at public workstations. In addition, this position assists with the provision of document delivery service, serials maintenance, accessing library collections and services.

Education:
University degree in Science required, physical or life sciences preferred.

Experience:
One to two years recent related experience in providing front-line public service in a reference environment or in another high volume public service area. On-line database searching experience required. Some academic research experience preferred.

Skills:
Typing 40-45 w.p.m., accuracy essential; attending accurately to detail under pressure of high volume; knowledge of general and science-related bibliographic searching tools essential; demonstrated skill/ability in the following areas: intermediate word processing, spreadsheet and database skills, preferably in MS Office (Word, Excel, MS Access), knowledge and experience in using web softwares in creating and maintaining web pages; use of an on-line records system; maintaining accurate records and working with data to compile reports; working accurately with figures; working independently; dealing calmly, courteously and effectively with people; excellent interpersonal skills; excellent oral and written communication skills; answering general and science-related enquiries clearly and concisely, specifically in a reference oriented environment; excellent organizational abilities including setting priorities, multi-tasking and working under pressure of high volume; problem solving skills and good judgement .

Cover Letter Required: Yes

Dates:
Internal Posting Date: July 11, 2011
Internal Application Deadline: July 18, 2011

Extended Posting Date: July 20, 2011
Extended Application Deadline: July 27, 2011

External Posting Date: July 20, 2011
External Application Deadline: July 27, 2011

Please Note: All applications must be received by 4:30 p.m. on the posted deadline date.

Thank you for your interest in a career with York University. To apply, please ensure that:

  • You have submitted a complete application package (application form*, resume and covering letter) by 4:30 p.m. on the posted deadline date. When emailing your application package, ensure that you have attached the resume, cover letter, and application form to your email.
  • A complete application package has been submitted for each job posting you are applying for.
  • You have quoted the appropriate posting number on your application form and in the subject line of your email. Please keep the posting number and position description for future reference or inquiries.
  • Your application package is submitted in one of the following formats: Microsoft Word (.doc), or Adobe (.pdf). If you do not have access to the above programs, you may submit your resume and covering letter in plain text format (.txt). Please note the application form cannot be saved in this format.

Applications are to be submitted to: jobs@yorku.ca.

York University is committed to Employment Equity and encourages applications from all qualified candidates.

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TEDxLibrariansTO Countdown Questions: Day 1: Adding value

Jun 25 2011 Published by under acad lib future, academia, librarianship, tedxlib, yorku

As you read this, I'll be at TEDxLibrariansTO helping out with registration. And having a great time talking about librarians as thought leaders!

As I've done for the last few days, here is my answer for yesterday's TEDxLibrariansTO Countdown Question:

Question 1: What means should librarians choose to encourage their institutions to embrace change?

I'm not sure I know how to approach even beginning to answer this question other than to just say 42!

However, I was lucky enough to attend Drew Dudley's amazing keynote address at yesterday's York IT Day conference. He really talked about redefining leadership in a such a way that everyday everyone has a chance to add value to their lives and organizations. Everyone can make a difference just by being more mindful of how they conduct their everyday lives.

I really liked how he used six questions we can all ask ourselves everyday to frame his value adding strategy.

With Drew's permission, here they are:

  1. What have you done today to be helpful?
  2. What have you done today to make it more likely you will learn something?
  3. What have you done today to make it more likely someone else will learn something?
  4. Have you said something positive about someone to their face today?
  5. Have you said something positive about someone when they're not even in the room today?
  6. What have you done today to be good to yourself?

It's a start. Make a difference.

(More on the questions forthcoming in Anyone Can Make the Waitress Laugh: 'Lollipop Moments' and Redefining Leadership by Drew Dudley)

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York University Faculty Assocation (YUFA) Librarian Members' Letter to McMaster President in support of McMaster librarians and archivists

Jun 23 2011 Published by under academia, librarianship, yorku

The Library Chapter of the York University Faculty Association has released the following unanimously approved letter:

York University Faculty Association, Library Chapter
240 York Lanes, York University
4700 Keele St.
Toronto, ON
M3J 1P3

June 2, 2011

Dr. Patrick Deane, President and Vice-Chancellor
238 Gilmour Hall, McMaster University
1280 Main St. West
Hamilton, ON
L8S 4L8

Dear President Deane,

We write in support of the librarians and archivists at McMaster University. In particular we express our grave concern over the recent downsizing of professional staff, the casualization of labour at McMaster University Library, and the recent comments from Jeff Trzeciak, the University Librarian, diminishing the value and future of librarians at McMaster. Such comments provide clear evidence of a highly uncollegial and unsupportive work environment. We have previously written indicating our distaste for the organizational restructuring that led to the creation of new positions quickly deemed irrelevant and the subsequent firing of two highly respected senior colleagues. As new and even more worrisome issues grow increasingly apparent, we are compelled to write again.

While we recognize and embrace a need for other kinds of skills and specializations in academic libraries, they should not come at the expense of professional expertise that has taken many years to assemble. Such disregard is particularly troubling coming from an administrator at an institution of higher learning, which should have the highest regard for knowledge, specialization, and expertise.

Even more crucially, changes to staffing models should not come at the expense of academic freedom. We are deeply troubled by the casualization of labour involved in replacing full-time positions with precarious contract positions. Non-librarian/archivist employees in limited term contract positions do not enjoy the academic freedom or the background and systemic awareness required to express new challenging ideas or disagreement over the strategic directions or priorities of the Library and consequently the quality of internal debate and the imaginative possibilities of the library system as a whole will suffer as a result of an increasingly centralized, hierarchical orthodoxy.

While change is certainly needed as we approach the challenges and opportunities of the twenty-first century, it is critical that the professionals charged with preservation and stewardship of our academic and cultural heritage be at the forefront of any sustainable renewal and planning process. A university librarian, much like a dean, is not a CEO, but a collegial partner in collective governance of a public institution. Change cannot be effectively managed in a highly charged and hostile work environment. Note that the McMaster Health Sciences Library, the one not administered by Mr. Trzeciak, managed to absorb budget cuts without rancor or losing staff.

The reputation of McMaster's Library is suffering as a result of the actions of its University Librarian. For instance, see the recent article by Ian Brown in the Globe and Mail, where Mr. Trzeciak's vision was openly dismissed. One only has to take a quick look at library-related blogs and social media to see that McMaster University Library is quickly becoming known amongst librarians as a rogue institution. Nor does your Library seem to provide a supportive environment for grassroots innovation from librarians and archivists. Innovation appears to be only permitted from the top down. Such a reputation does not bode well for future recruitment of excellent librarians or post-docs. We also suspect that retention of your current librarians and archivists--highly respected by their national colleagues--will become an increasingly large issue for your institution. No-one could blame them for looking elsewhere, given the climate Mr. Trzeciak has created.

We are also disturbed by the recent agenda-setting "Future of the Academic Library Symposium" organized by Mr. Trzeciak, which initially had only three female speakers out of a possible 21 on the program and no front-line librarians or archivists. Such inequity would be unrepresentative and egregious in any context but considerably more so in this instance as, according to CAUT statistics, 73% of academic librarians in Canada are women. The issues raised by this symposium might seem distinct from the concerns raised above, but we connect this inequity of gender to the obvious inequity of recent labour practices at McMaster University Library. We see voices being silenced: the voices of professional librarians and archivists and the voices of women. The message from this symposium and from the overarching ideological agenda espoused by Mr. Trzeciak is that the future of libraries is controlled and dictated entirely by library administrators. Male library administrators.

In the wake of all of the above, we were particularly troubled to learn that Mr. Trzeciak's most recent review and reappointment occurred without the input or involvement of MUALA or indeed any of the librarians at McMaster-the people in fact best positioned to evaluate a library director's performance.

This letter has been unanimously endorsed by our York University Faculty Association Library chapter. The YUFA executive, representing all our faculty and librarians, has also publicly expressed its support for McMaster librarians. We continue to monitor the situation at your institution and continue to advocate for the rights and responsibilities of archivists and librarians at McMaster, believing as we do that our responsibilities for, and commitment to, the preservation of Canada's scholarly and cultural heritage transcends the boundaries of our own institution and extends across them all.


Sincerely,

York University Faculty Association, Library Chapter

Cc: Ilene Busch-Vishniac, Provost and Vice-President Academic, McMaster University
Jeff Trzeciak, University Librarian, McMaster University
McMaster University Librarians' Association
McMaster University Faculty Association
York University Faculty Association

For more information and background, please check my regularly updated post on the situation at McMaster.

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My presentation for Scholarship in the Public Eye: The Case for Social Media

As I mentioned in yesterday's post, I did a short presentation on Scholarship in the Public Eye: The Case for Social Media as part of a panel for a York Faculty of Graduate Studies Scholarly Communications Series.

And yes, I was the Twitter guy, although some of the other presenters did talk about their use of Twitter. Basically, my point was that Twitter and blogs can be part and parcel of the research and research outreach life of academics. I mostly concentrated on Twitter, but I did try and make the same sorts of points about blogging as well as I spoke.

Anyways, I thought I would share my "slides" here.

You may have noticed, if you went through them at all, that they're a bit odd.

Yes, every single slide is a tweet. They're mostly by other people but I did feel I had to tweet a few things on my own to tie the threads together a bit better. The tool I used to do the presentation itself was the absolutely wonderful web service Storify. Basically Storify allows you to aggregate web objects into linear stories. And you can turn those stories into slideshows, which is what I did.

You can see my Storify story here and as a slide show here. It's a bit odd, but to make the slide show work, you have to click the slide and then use the left and right arrows.

I have a ton of praise for Storify. It was great to use and for a few of the more intricate details I had to work out, their Twitter tech support was fantastic. Overall, I would recommend it for similar projects. The only downside was that in my very particular application, it was a bit difficult to stitch together a presentation narrative from other people's tweets so I'm not sure what I did would work so well for a full length presentation.

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What Dutch librarians now know about the Steacie Library

Jun 02 2011 Published by under acad lib future, academia, librarianship, yorku

Yesterday York University Libraries was visited by a delegation of 39 academic librarians, mostly from The Netherlands but also a couple from Belgium. They are on a tour of many of the academic libraries of Southern Ontario, hoping to learn and share a bit about how libraries in different countries are handling the challenges of the future.

You can follow their progress on Twitter using the hashtag #nvbcan.

As I said, they were here yesterday. During the morning they got some presentations about the York Libraries in general and a tour of the Scott Library and its new Learning Commons. In the afternoon they split up and visited some of the branch libraries. Nine of them visited my library, the Steacie Science & Engineering Library.

We have a few pictures of their visit up on our Facebook page.

I gave them a quick tour of the premises and a short presentation on some of the things that might make Steacie a bit different from the other libraries on campus.

I have to admit that doing these kinds of things always makes me a bit queasy as it sort of assumes that we're cooler and more forward-looking than a bunch of libraries willing to travel half way around the world to learn about what other libraries are doing. I strongly suspect this was the case here and that we likely had more to learn from them than they did from us.

In any case, I soldiered on.

Here's the presentation I gave, in case anyone is interested. It's also available online here.

For what it's worth, the thing that we do that sparked the most interest was our gadget-happy reserves collection.

It was great meeting all the Dutch librarians and I hope this is the beginning of some great international relationships and collaborations. We had some great conversations and a great sharing of ideas and viewpoints. I'd also like to point out that the vast majority of whatever cool stuff we do do here at Steacie isn't because of me, it's the great staff and librarians who do all the heavy lifting.

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Reference Assistant (Map & GIS / Science), York University Libraries

Apr 26 2011 Published by under job, yorku

The following is a job posting for the York University Libraries for a Reference Assistant position. Note that a library degree is not required.

The job involves both regular science reference and supporting maps & GIS users and will be both in my unit and the Map Library here at York. For basic questions about the science-y part of the position, you can contact me at jdupuis at yorku dot ca. For the maps/GIS part, you can contact Rosa Orlandini at rorlan at yorku dot ca.

Posting Number: YUSA-7280
Position Title: Reference Assistant (Map & GIS/Science)
Department: Steacie Science Library
Affiliation: YUSA
Band: 10
Salary: $51,440
Duration: Continuing Full-Time
Hours: Fall/Winter (Sept to April): Mon. to Fri.; 9:00 am - 5:00 pm. Required to work a 12:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. shift one day per week. May be required to work an occasional weekend shift.

Purpose:
The Reference Assistant provides information and assists with reference and data inquiries for library users in both the Map Library and in the Steacie Science & Engineering Library. This position is also responsible for the maintenance and set up of web pages on both the Map Library and Steacie Library websites. In addition, this position assists with acquisition, processing, promoting, and maintenance of the print and digital collection at the Map Library.

Education:
University degree in Science, Geography or Environmental Studies. Specialized courses in Geographic Information Systems and Science.

Experience:
One to two years recent related experience in providing front-line public services in a reference environment or in another high volume public service area. Online database searching and Geographic Information System experience required. Some academic research experience preferred.

Skills:
Typing 40-45 w.p.m. accuracy essential; knowledge of general and science related bibliographic searching tools essential; knowledge and experience using geospatial data and GIS software, preferably ArcGIS; knowledge and experience reading and interpreting cartographic information; demonstrated skill/ability in the following areas; intermediate word processing, spreadsheet and database skills preferably in MS Office (Word, Excel, MS Access), knowledge and experience using web based coding and web authoring software; ability to maintain accurate records and work with data to compile reports; use of an online records system; working accurately with figures; working independently; excellent customer service skills including the ability to deal effectively, courteously and diplomatically with people; excellent interpersonal skills; excellent oral and written communication skills; experience answer general enquires, and enquires related to science, maps and GIS in a clear and concise manner, specifically in a reference oriented environment; excellent organizational abilities including setting priorities, multi-tasking, and working under high volume pressure; problem solving skills and good judgment.

Cover Letter Required: Yes

Dates:
Internal Posting Date: April 13, 2011
Internal Application Deadline: April 20, 2011

Extended Posting Date: April 25, 2011
Extended Application Deadline: May 2, 2011

External Posting Date: April 25, 2011
External Application Deadline: May 2, 2011

Please Note: All applications must be received by 4:30 p.m. on the posted deadline date.

Thank you for your interest in a career with York University. To apply, please ensure that:

  • You have submitted a complete application package (application form*, resume and covering letter) by 4:30 p.m. on the posted deadline date. When emailing your application package, ensure that you have attached the resume, cover letter, and application form to your email.
  • A complete application package has been submitted for each job posting you are applying for.
  • You have quoted the appropriate posting number on your application form and in the subject line of your email. Please keep the posting number and position description for future reference or inquiries.
  • Your application package is submitted in one of the following formats: Microsoft Word (.doc), or Adobe (.pdf). If you do not have access to the above programs, you may submit your resume and covering letter in plain text format (.txt). Please note the application form cannot be saved in this format.

Applications are to be submitted to: jobs@yorku.ca.

York University is committed to Employment Equity and encourages applications from all qualified candidates.

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Reinventing Discovery with Michael Nielsen at York University!

If you're in the Greater Toronto Area next Tuesday, please drop by and see Michael talk. I'm thrilled that my library is co-sponsoring such a fantastic event!

Presented by:

  • Janusz A. Kozinski - Dean, Faculty of Science and Engineering
  • The Division of Natural Science
  • The Steacie Science and Engineering Library

Location: Paul A. Delaney Gallery, 320 Bethune College
Date: Tuesday, March 15, 2011
Time: 12:30 p.m. - 2:00 p.m.

Refreshments will be served courtesy of Steacie Science and Engineering Library

Prof. Nielsen will describe an evolution in how scientific discoveries are made driven by new online tools that help scientists work together in new ways. Prof. Nielsen will describe examples that enable large groups of amateurs to make discoveries, and online markets in scientific problems.

This talk will be a blend of presentation, Q&A and discussion.

Abstract: In this talk I describe a remarkable transformation now underway in how scientific discoveries are made, a transformation being driven by new online tools that help scientists work together in new ways. I will describe examples that include massively collaborative approaches to solving mathematical problems, citizen science projects that enable large groups of amateurs to make discoveries, and online markets in scientific problems. These and other projects use online tools to amplify our collective intelligence, and so extend our problem-solving ability. This promise is only part of the story, however, for today there are also cultural barriers strongly inhibiting scientists from using online tools to their full potential. I will describe these cultural barriers, and how they can be overcome.

Bio: Michael Nielsen is one of the pioneers of quantum computation. Together
with Ike Chuang of MIT, he wrote the standard text in the field, a text which is now one of the ten most highly cited physics books of all time. He is the author of more than fifty scientific papers, including invited contributions to Nature and Scientific American. His research contributions include involvement in one of the first quantum teleportation experiments, named as one of Science Magazine's Top Ten Breakthroughs of the Year for 1998. Michael was a Fulbright Scholar at the University of New Mexico, and has worked at Los Alamos National Laboratory, as the Richard Chace Tolman Prize Fellow at Caltech, as Foundation Professor of Quantum Information Science at the University of Queensland, and as a Senior Faculty Member at the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics. Michael left academia to write a book about open science, and the radical change that online tools are causing in the way scientific discoveries are made.

The flyer is here.

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