DNA Chain

Monthly, 7:30 – 9:00 PM at Rosedale Community Hall, 901-11 Avenue NW
(free street parking is available in the evenings). Free for members, $5 charge at the door for non-members. Guests are welcome. No registration required.

Come for an evening of discovery and discussion in an informal and intimate setting! Each month we will have an interactive presentation from a different presenter.

We are looking for more CALL scientists and environmentalists –CALL members and others– to come forward to stimulate and inspire us with accounts of research pertinent in today’s world! If you are interested and would like to know more, please contact Joe Boivin or Tom Kerwin via e-mail at



Wednesday, November 1


The Remarkable Biodiversity of Our Most Extreme Natural Environments

Dr. Peter Dunfield
Department of Biological Sciences, University of Calgary

Most of us are familiar with the Tree of Life, a metaphorical giant with its roots in the primordial muck and its leaves representing the incredible biodiversity we see today: butterflies and beetles, polar bears and buffalo, orchids and ferns. That image is beautiful but wrong, for the real Tree of Life is a seething mass of bacteria. Bacteria appeared on Earth 3 billion years before the first multicellular organisms, and during those 3 billion years were evolving ever newer and more inventive ways of survival. They adapted to grow in habitats of extreme heat, cold, salt, acidity, and toxicity. Unfortunately, less than 0.1% of all bacterial species can be grown in a laboratory, and so are very difficult to study. In the same way that most matter and energy in our Universe is called Dark Matter (we know it must be there, but we don’t know its true form), most of the Tree of Life has therefore now been dubbed “Microbial Dark Matter”. Uncovering this microbial dark matter is a new frontier of biodiversity research. In this talk I will describe some of the bacteria that live in extreme habitats such as hot springs, and describe how we use DNA-based techniques to understand what they do.

Peter Dunfield is a Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Calgary. He previously worked in the Max Planck Society in Germany studying how bacteria affect global climate change processes, and later at the Institute of Geological and Nuclear Sciences in New Zealand, studying how bacteria have adapted to live in volcanic environments. For the past 10 years his laboratory has been cataloguing the microbial biodiversity of some of the most extreme habitats in Canada, including thermal springs in BC (with temperatures up to 85oC), brine springs in Wood Buffalo National Park, and iron springs in the Northwest Territories. He collaborates with the Joint Genome Institute in California to use single-cell genomics and metagenomics to understand what these odd microorganisms do, and learn how to culture them.

Wednesday, December 6


Kevin Van Tighem

Several previous speakers at CALL (including Kevin) have stressed the importance of our foothills in providing a clean and reliable water supply for Calgary and other cities in Alberta. Kevin will discuss how too many roads and off-highway vehicle trails are eroding Alberta's water future — and what we can do about it.

Kevin Van Tighem was born and raised in Calgary.  His family roots in what is now Alberta go back to 1875. He graduated with a degree in plant ecology from the University of Calgary in 1977 and went on to work as a biologist with the Canadian Wildlife Service.  In 1985 Kevin joined Parks Canada and subsequently worked in Jasper, Yoho and Waterton Lakes National Parks. He went on to be superintendent of Prince Albert, Elk Island and then Banff before retiring in 2011.

Kevin is the author of fourteen books on wildlife and conservation and writes a regular column (“This Land”) in Alberta Views magazine.  

His most recent book is Our Place/Changing the Nature of Alberta

Past Presentations

  • Wednesday, June 7

Advancing Canadian Waste Water Assets

Advances in medical science are allowing Albertans to live longer, healthier lives, but the growing presence of drugs and related matabolites in waste water is challenging current wastewater treatment technologies. This Talk will present a brief history of water treatment, global and national water challenges and water treatment technologies that may allow water reuse options to provide more benefit from our current water supply.

Speaker: Lee Jackson, Biological Sciences, University of Calgary ( ) is Scientific Director for ACWA (Advancing Canadian Wastewater Assets,, a partnership between the City of Calgary and the university that seeks to develop and evaluate new engineering technologies to remove emerging contaminants from our municipal wastewater and the associated environmental benefits that may result.

  • Wednesday, May 3

Changes to Alberta’s Electricity Market
Susan Wright, is a
lawyer with 26 years of experience in petrochemicals, pipelines, oil and natural gas


There will be significant changes to Alberta’s electricity market over the next decade.  Susan Wright will discuss how the Alberta government’s decision to terminate the Power Purchase Arrangements, shut down coal plants and move to a capacity market will impact Albertans in the years to come.

Speaker: Susan Wright obtained her LLB from the University of Calgary in 1984 and was called to the Bar in 1985.  She worked as a litigator at a downtown law firm before moving in-house with a major energy company.  She spent 26 years in the petrochemicals, pipelines, oil and natural gas industry, practicing in Canada and the US.  She was the VP Legal, General Counsel at Alliance Pipelines before she retired to run in the 2014 provincial by-election.  

Susan writes a political blog Susan on the Soapbox which won a Clawbie in 2013 for the best legal blog for a non-legal audience.  Posts have been reprinted in Huffington Post, Rabble and Alberta Views.  Susan is a regular panelist on CTV’s Alberta Primetime and has appeared on CBC Radio and Danielle Smith’s Newstalk 770.   She received the PIA Public Interest Award for Southern Alberta in 2016.

  • Wednesday, April 5th

Artificial Intelligence (and Games)
Jonathan Schaeffer, Professor of Computing Science at the University of Alberta

Artificial Intelligience

In McKinsey & Company’s Disruptive Technology, technologies containing artificial intelligence (AI) are expected to create tens of trillions of dollars in economic impact by the year 2025. Similarly, Gartner, Inc. lists machine learning (a subset of AI) as one of the top 10 strategic technology trends for 2017. Yet another technology fad? Perhaps, but it is hard to imagine any industry that won’t be affected by software applications with “smart” capabilities.
In this talk we present a gentle introduction to artificial intelligence, its past successes, current efforts, and future impact. AI is widely deployed today, but its presence and impact remains largely hidden from the average consumer. All that will change within a decade.

Jonathan Schaeffer is a Distinguished University Professor of Computing Science at the University of Alberta and is currently the Dean of the Faculty of Science. His research are is artificial intelligence. He is best known for applying his research to computer games. He is the creator of the checkers program Chinook, the first program to win a human world championship in any game. In 2007 he announced that checkers was solved: perfect plays leads to a draw. He is a founder of Onlea (, the world’s first MOOC production company.

Click here for a recent Globe and Mail article by Jonathan Schaeffer on the critical importance of AI.

  • Wednesday, March 1

The “Historic” Paris Climate Agreement: What It Means for Canada and Alberta –
Dr. Sharon Mascher, Professor, University of Calgary

Paris Climate Change

On 4 November 2016, the Paris Agreement entered into force. Hailed by many around the world as ‘historic’, the Paris Agreement is intended to strengthen the global response to climate change. However, as Prime Minister Trudeau noted in a Statement issued following the conclusion of the Paris climate conference, “[t]here is much tough work that still needs to be accomplished both at home and around the world to implement the agreement.” But what commitments have the Parties to the Paris Agreement made? What do these commitments mean here at home in Canada and in Alberta? In this presentation, Sharon will discuss these and other questions to help provide you with an understanding of legal framework developing around the issue of climate change.

Dr Mascher is a Professor in the Faculty of Law at the University of Calgary. Her research and teaching focuses on intersections between environmental law, energy law and the law affecting aboriginal people. For the last several years, her research has had a particular emphasis on the legal and policy framework relating to climate change.

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**October Events**

Health and Wellness
Tuesday, Oct. 24, 1:00-3:00 PM
Rosedale Community Hall
Addictions in the Adult Population

Canada 150 singalong
Sunday, Oct. 29, 3:00 -5:00 PM
Rosedale Community Hall

**November Events**

Science and Environment
Wednesday, Nov. 1, 7:30 - 9:00 PM
Rosedale Community Hall, 901-11 Ave. NW
Hunting for Microbial Dark Matter in Canada: The Remarkable Biodiversity of our Most Extreme Natural Environments



Saturday, Nov. 4, 9:00-3:00 PM
Rosedale Community Hall, Main Hall

Arts and Humanities
Friday, Nov. 10, 1:00 – 3:00 PM
Room 310, cSpace, 1721 – 29 Ave. SW
A Bird's Eye View

CALL Café  
Monday, Nov. 13, 1:00-3:00 PM
Rosedale Community Hall
Art Inspired by the Canadian Rockies, Purcell Mountains and Selkirk Mountains, 1809-2012 

Latin American Lecture Series
Tuesday, Nov. 14 1:30 - 3:00 PM
Room 310, cSpace, 1721 – 29 Ave. SW
Colombia: The Roots of Conflict, The Road to Peace

Treks and Travels
Wednesday, Nov. 15, 7:30-9:00 PM
Rosedale Community Hall
A trip to Antarctica, Argentina, Buenos Aires, Falkland Islands, and Iguazu Falls

Lunch and Learn
Thursday, Nov. 16, 11:00 AM -12:30 PM
new Royal Canadian Legion, Branch No. 264, 1918 Kensington Rd NW
“Commemorate & Remember”

Health and Wellness
Tuesday, Nov. 28, 1:00-3:00 PM
Rosedale Community Hall
"Carry Me Out Toes First": Martha's Emotional Journey


Science and Environment
Wednesday, Dec. 6, 7:30 - 9:00 PM
Rosedale Community Hall, 901-11 Ave. NW
Draining the Headwaters

Arts and Humanities
Friday, Dec. 8, 1:00 – 3:00 PM
Room 310, cSpace, 1721 – 29 Ave. SW
Social Justice and Artists: The Side Door of Perception

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