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Celebration of Research Excellence Lectures and Reception


Through the widow’s web: fundamental research & insights from surprising places

Professor Maydianne CB Andrade

The ‘widow’ spiders, including the infamous black widow, are a group of over 30 species found worldwide, often a source of fear because of their neurotoxic venom and lurid reputation for eating their mates. Here I reveal their remarkable behavioural and developmental adaptations for mating under challenging circumstances. I discuss how understanding these fascinating animals can give insight into the conditions that lead to plasticity—the ability of organisms to thrive despite rapid environmental change—and by extension, the importance of fundamental research as a source of unexpected practical insights.

Making Geology Rock

Professor Nick Eyles

Geology is the study of how our planet has evolved over the last 4.5 billion years. That long history is preserved in rocks and landscapes and our understanding of past events has been re-energized by new concepts in how oceans and continents come and go, by advances in age dating rocks and also by new high resolution imaging techniques for mapping landscapes. We are now able to accurately see the surface of our planet for the first time using satellite and other imagery data. I will review how such methods are being used by our research group at UTSC to better understand the diverse glacial landscapes inherited from ice ages in Canada (when our campus lay under ice 1 km thick) and to assess the risk of a major earthquake in Southern Ontario in response to the relentless movement of the North American plate as it moves westward to become part of the next supercontinent 250 million years in the future.


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