August 2014

Message from the President

A Word from the Academy Editor

Two young scientists at the Royal Ontario Museum are changing the paleontological landscape in Canada

Scientific Academies in Japan and China: Lessons Learned and Opportunities for Cooperation

Message from the President: A Warm Welcome to Professor Andrew Miall as the Academy Editor

Keith HipelOn behalf of the Academy of Science, it is my distinct pleasure to formally welcome Dr. Andrew Miall as the Academy Editor and to express my sincere words of appreciation to him for taking on this very important position.  We are delighted that he accepted our invitation for assuming the responsibility to become the Academy Editor and that he plans to use the Bulletin of the Academy of Science as a communication medium to reach across disciplines and to inform the readership about important national activities. Indeed, as you have probably already noticed in the first issue of the Newsletter published under Andrew’s able leadership, three highly respected Canadians of international prominence wrote articles of national concern in our country: Dr. Paul Demer from the University of Toronto reported on the work of the RSC Expert Panel on the health implications of radio frequency fields; Dr. James R. Drummond from Dalhousie University wrote about Arctic research; and Dr. David Schindler from the University of Alberta described how the globally famous Experimental Lakes Area project was saved from extinction. The Newsletter is clearly continuing to flourish with Dr. Miall at the helm!

Let me now relay to you the numerous outstanding academic achievements of Dr. Miall and his many years of valuable experience that he gained as a gifted scientist, scholar and academic leader within the academic world, in particular, and society, in general. These accomplishments form the solid foundations on which Dr. Miall can launch his initiatives as the Academy Editor to the benefit of all of us.

One could describe Andrew as a “super sleuth” who, through a lifetime of unique experience and in-depth research, is able to put forward sensible solutions to the toughest problems of our times. To become one of Canada’s “top detectives” in addressing pressing energy and water issues affecting all Canadians, Andrew spent more than three decades carefully studying the geology of Canada’s north and developing associated scientific hypotheses, thereby establishing himself as one of Canada’s leading geologist as well as a first-class international researcher. This solid foundation of challenging and highly creative scientific detective work provided the base upon which Andrew could tackle issues that are of widespread concern to Canadians at the present time. For example, in 2010, Andrew was appointed by the Honourable Environment Minister, Jim Prentice, to be Member of the Oil Sands Science Advisory Panel of Environment Canada to give specific guidance on how to proactively manage and solve environmental problems connected to Canada’s vast oil sands. Subsequently, in 2011, he was appointed Member of the Alberta Environmental Monitoring Panel of Alberta Environment by Alberta Environment Minister Rob Renner, and the Panel’s final report gave insightful monitoring recommendations that are required to responsibly manage the development of the oil sands. In 2012, Andrew was the Scientific Reviewer of an audit of the federal management of groundwater in Canada for the office of the Commissioner of the Environment, Auditor General of Canada. Recently, he co-authored a report called “Water Resources in Canada: A Strategic Viewpoint” in which it is recommended that Canada develops a national water policy that takes into account energy, economics, trade, stakeholder’s values, and other connected issues in an integrative and adaptive fashion from a systems thinking perspective. In 2007, Andrew and N. Eyles authored the highly popular book entitled “Canada Rocks: A Geologic Journey” which was rated by the Toronto Star as the ‘Top Science Book of the Year’ and selected as a Booksellers’ Choice in 2007. He has reached the general public in other ways such as by writing opinion pieces published in major newspapers and magazines as well as by serving as a moderator or panelist at important public and scientific events.

Let us now step back in time to chart the “road less travelled” that Andrew took to reach the mountain top of a stellar lifetime career from which he can view Canada’s vast energy and water resources and provide sage advice on how to sustainably manage them to benefit Canadians and simultaneously protect the environment. One big chunk of Andrew’s early and ongoing detective work falls under the umbrella of stratigraphy, a branch of geology dealing with rock layers and layering (stratification). As a geological detective, Andrew carefully studies these layers to understand Canada’s geological history in order to allow society to make informed decisions about Canada’s future with respect to the proper management of Canada’s energy and other natural resources. This work is categorized into six major areas: Theory in Stratigraphy, Sequence Stratigraphy, Fluvial Sedimentology, Glacial Deposits, Geology of Arctic Canada, and Geology of Canada and North America. Andrew has written outstanding books, journal papers, conference articles, and other important publications on the foregoing and other topics that have established him as one of Canada’s finest academics and geologists. In 2014, his book entitled “Fluvial Depositional Systems” was released by Springer-Verlag of Berlin.

Andrew’s significant impact on the field of geology in Canada and around the globe has been recognized by the receipt of many prestigious awards, such as being elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada (RSC), Distinguished Fellow of the Geological Association of Canada, and Honourary Member of the Canadian Society of Petroleum Geologists. More recently, this year he received the prestigious Logan Medal from the Geological Association of Canada, as well as the Francis J. Pettijohn Medal in Sedimentary Geology from the Society for Sedimentary Geology. He holds an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Pretoria and a D.Sc. (Higher Doctorate) from the University of London. He is Professor of Geology at the University of Toronto (since 1979), where he is the inaugural holder of the Gordon Stollery Chair in Basin Analysis and Petroleum Geology.

Finally, let me convey to you some of the many ways in which Andrew has contributed very directly to the development of our Academy of Science since being elected Fellow in 1995. As President of the Academy of Sciences within the RSC (2007-2009), he has exerted a major influence on Canada’s best scientists and engineers. For instance, in his capacity as President, he established the Ad-Hoc Committee to review the status of women in the Academy of Science. In fact, increasing the ratio of female Fellows within the Academy of Science continues to be a high priority. Andrew has further impacted Canada’s scientific community as well as the general public through the organization of many first-class conferences, such as three symposia for the RSC on “Energy and the Environment” (2003), “Water” (2006), and “The Universe and Our Place in it” (2009), which included not only interdisciplinary representation from the natural sciences, social sciences, and the humanities, but also input from practitioners, stakeholders, advocacy groups, students as well as the general public.

Because of the foregoing and other reasons, I am sure you can appreciate why we are so honoured and excited to have such a highly capable person as Andrew as the new Academy Editor. Once again, I would like to pass on our gratitude to Andrew for accepting our invitation to become Academy Editor and for the ongoing and future tasks he will be tackling on our behalf. I know that Andrew would be pleased to hear from you if you have some news or article you would like to see published in the Academy Newsletter. Remember that the communication of your ideas via the Newsletter constitutes a valuable mechanism by which we can all benefit.

As you may be aware, Professor Betty Roots stepped down as the Academy Editor in late 2013. As a final note, I would like to repeat my sentiments stated in my Newsletter message of December 2013, and to take the opportunity to express our deep appreciation to Betty, our Honourary Editor of the Bulletin, for her leadership and dedication in capably editing our Bulletin since its inception. You may wish to take the opportunity to personally thank Betty at the Annual General Meeting of the RSC which will take place in Québec City from November 20th to 23rd as well as introduce yourself to Andrew as a potential contributor to the Newsletter.

In closing, I would like to seize the occasion to wish everyone a highly enjoyable summer season. I look forward to seeing you in Québec City this November.

With my very best regards,

Keith Hipel

President, Academy of Science

A Word from the Academy Editor - Andrew Miall, FRSC

Andrew MiallThis is the second of the issues of the Academy of Science Bulletin that I have been responsible for assembling, and I would like to take this opportunity to summarize what I think the Bulletin should be all about, using the two issues as exemplars.

The Royal Society of Canada represents the pinnacle of achievement on Canadian science. There are several ways in which the Bulletin can reflect and further such achievements.  Celebration of individual success is the first and most obvious, and Bob Reisz’s article in this issue describes a very good example of the successes of two young Canadian scientists who are working at the cutting edge of evolutionary paleontology.

Secondly, there are the national goals that the RSC has long since sought to serve, particularly the service to society. In this regard, the report on the work of the Expert Panel on the health implications of radio frequency fields by Paul Demers in the previous issue of the Bulletin is an excellent example of the work of the society’s Expert Panel process. With many policy issues of public importance it is increasingly difficult to achieve balance and find the non-partisan voice that can be relied upon to deliver reliable, neutral commentary and advice based on the best scientific input. Too often a look below the surface of a major policy recommendation is to find self-interest at work, be it individual, corporate, or political. The Expert Panel process is designed to circumvent or avoid such motivations as much as possible. Canadians, if asked, would no doubt provide an extensive list of national goals that they find particularly important, but amongst these, there is absolutely no doubt that protection of the environment would be near the top of most people’s list. Two articles in the previous issue, that of David Schindler on a range of environmental research and management issues, and that by Jim Drummond on Arctic environmental research provide good examples and constitute a second objective of this Bulletin, to report on specific issues of recognized national importance.

A third goal of the RSC is to communicate and work with the broader international community on matters of international scientific importance. I have had the pleasure of working with our current Academy President, Keith Hipel, on the issue of water resources (another environmental imperative). In this issue, Keith tells us about how scientific academies in Japan and China are structured and operate, what we can learn from them, and how we can cooperate with them.

In recent years the RSC has made it increasingly clear that induction into the society brings with it a responsibility to engage in the kinds of the activities that I have just described. There is, therefore, an open, standing invitation to all Fellows, but particularly those holding office within the Academy, and who can therefore be assumed to be in touch with a broad cross-section of their fellow specialists, to consider writing an article for the Bulletin, or to contact a colleague whom they know could so write an article that addresses the kinds of objectives described here.

Andrew Miall

Toronto, July 2014

Two young scientists at the Royal Ontario Museum are changing the paleontological landscape in Canada - Robert Reisz, FRSC

Robert ReiszFor a century, the Royal Ontario Museum has been at the forefront of research in the fields of both invertebrate and vertebrate paleontology.  Research in these fields has focused on making large-scale collections at two World-famous Canadian fossil sites: the Burgess Shale in the Canadian Rockies, and the badlands Dinosaur Provincial Park in south central Alberta. Both of these sites are recognized by the United Nations as UNSECO World Heritage sites for the scientific importance of their fossil treasures.  The Cambrian-aged fossils from the Burgess Shale are characterized by remarkable soft-bodied organisms that record the early evolution of animal life, whereas the Late Cretaceous rocks (~75 million years old) of the Dinosaur Park Formation is known world-wide for producing stunningly beautiful, complete dinosaur skeletons that grace the halls of all majors museums in North America.  Several generations of paleontologists have contributed to these world famous collections of the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM), but two recently hired young scientists at the ROM are looking at these fossil sites in new ways, and making ground-breaking contributions to the Canadian paleontological landscape through spectacular new field and laboratory discoveries. Dr. Jean Bernard Caron is Curator of Invertebrate Paleontology who carries on the ROM tradition of studying the Burgess Shale, while Dr. David Evans is Curator of Vertebrate Paleontology who specializes in Canadian dinosaurs.

Dr. Jean Bernard Caron came to the ROM from France in order to work on the fauna of the Burgess Shale. He completed his PhD at the University of Toronto in 2005. He could not resist the attraction of the collections at the museum, and stayed on to focus on this spectacular assemblage of 500 million year old fossils.  These fossils are part of the famous Cambrian Explosion, which records the sudden worldwide appearance and rapid diversification of numerous animal groups. The Burgess Shale in British Columbia is probably the most famous such locality.  Dr. Caron has not only carefully studied the vast collection of Burgess Shale fossils, but has led numerous expeditions to the original site, and explored the region for new localities that could yield more fossils. Since 2006, when he became curator at the ROM, Dr. Caron has published 34 papers describing new and poorly known animals from this locality, the taphonomy (preservation patterns and biases), and paleoecology of the communities, focusing on the significance of these fossils for understanding this early chapter of animal evolution.  His publications include three contributions in Nature and two in Science, arguably the top journals in the natural sciences. His research program has identified and studied stem arthropods, molluscs, and other strange and wonderful soft bodied animals, and his exploratory research has led to the discovery of a new Burgess Shale locality near Marble Canyon, Keetenay National Park, about 40km from the original site.

His most recent publication in Nature, coauthored with legendary paleontologist Simon Conway Morris (Published online 11 June 2014) is a true landmark in paleontology, and has particular resonance outside the world of invertebrates because it is a detailed description of a particularly important primitive fish.  Fossil fish from the Cambrian Period are very rare and usually poorly preserved, but the Burgess Shale fish, Metaspriggina, now known from numerous excellent specimens, including 44 specimens from the new Marble Canyon locality recently discovered by Caron. In this paper, Caron and Morris redescribe this ancient animal and provide convincing evidence that Metaspriginna is a basal vertebrate, and a member of a primitive group of fish that had a wide geographic distribution in the Cambrian marine realm. Although this species is not the oldest vertebrate, the exquisitely preserved fossils display in a very clear fashion a number of typical vertebrate features, including a pair of prominent eyes, paired nasal sacs, a post anal tail, and most strikingly W-shaped myomeres (axial muscles).  The latter arrangement of axial trunk and caudal musculature is typically seen in aquatic vertebrates and is associated with efficient lateral undulation of the body, providing the main propulsive mechanism for aquatic locomotion.  However, the most significant features of this fish, as emphasized by Caron and Morris, are found in the branchial area, the region of the body that housed the gills.  This area of the vertebrate body has been the subject of extensive debate because it involves one of the greatest innovations in vertebrate history, the evolution of the branchial arches and the origin of jaws. Both the fossils and extant jawless vertebrates, or agnathans, represent a tiny fraction of the overall vertebrate record and history, and it is the invention of jaws and the associated ability of vertebrates to become active predators, and be able to manipulate food both in the water and on land that led to the great success that followed. However, hypotheses related to the origin of jaws have remained controversial because the transition between the known jawless and jawed vertebrates is poorly understood.  Most currently known fossil and extant jawless vertebrates, including lampreys and hagfishes, have an unusual basket like branchial arch system, very different from those that form the jaws and gill arches of fossil and extant gnathostomes, or jawed vertebrates. This is where the significance of Metaspriggina becomes clear. The superbly preserved branchial elements of Metaspriggina are paired, and Caron and Morris interpret this arrangement of bipartite bars associated with externally located gills as primitive for vertebrates, and equivalent to the epibranchial and ceratobranchial elements of gnathostome gill arches. Remarkably, the first pair of bars is more robust than the rest of the series, and is not associated with gills, raising the possibility that we are looking at an early stage in the evolution of jaws.  

The other young paleontologist at the ROM, Dr. David Evans, is a Canadian who was inspired by visits to the ROM and the Royal Tyrrell Museum at an early age. Always aspiring to be a dinosaur paleontologist, he followed is desire after most children lose interest.  Since the ROM has one of the best collections of dinosaur fossils in the world, it was natural for Evans to choose University of Toronto for his PhD. He was hired to serve as the curator of Vertebrate Palaeontology before he completed his doctoral degree on Alberta duck-billed dinosaurs in 2007.  He was immediately recruited to help open the spectacular new James and Louise Temerty Gallery of the Age of Dinosaurs at the ROM, where he became well known for his re-discovery of a giant Barosaurus skeleton within the museum’s own vast collection- which became the centre-piece of the new permanent exhibition.

Since new fossil discoveries are key to advancing paleontology and building our knowledge of the history of life, David, like his colleague Jean Bernard, is very active in the field, discovering new dinosaur skeletons and excavating extensive bonebeds. He has already led expeditions to four continents, with his most notable contributions in Africa and Canada.  His research program focuses not only on the systematics of dinosaurs, but also on their paleobiology, historical biogeography and, most interestingly, their role in Late Cretaceous terrestrial ecosystems. His scientific focus is also in Canada, where his playground is the Late Cretaceous of Alberta, which includes the famous Dinosaur Park Formation-- the best sampled and most completely understood late Mesozoic terrestrial assemblages in the World. Together with the great collections at the ROM, this region of the world is an ideal natural laboratory to investigate macroevolutionary patterns in large-bodied terrestrial vertebrates like dinosaurs. His combination of field and collections based research program has yielded dramatic results, with an impressive record of 51 papers since he took on the position of Curator at the ROM. He has not only helped described 6 new species of dinosaurs from Alberta, but has also examined patterns of evolution, faunal turnover, and the influence of preservation patterns on our understanding of the dinosaur fossil record. For example, he has described a number of small, enigmatic dinosaurs, including the oldest North American pachycephalosaurid, or dome-headed dinosaur, and has revealed some startling facts about the hidden diversity of small species.

Evans is particularly innovative in his studies of dinosaur evolution because of his multifaceted approach, one that transcends the temptation to just name yet another new species, and together with his students and his collaborators, has been able to look at such fascinating topics as the influence of environomental change on dinosaur distribution, feeding height stratification among the herbivorous dinosaurs, and the overall biases in the preservation of dinosaurs within such well known communities as the Dinosaur Park Formation of Alberta.  These represent fundamental changes in how dinosaurs are studied, combining extensive biological, paleontological, and geological data in a way that permits a more thorough understanding of dinosaurs.

Here is an example of his innovative research: Dinosaurs have always attracted attention, certainly in part because of the fantastic size of most known dinosaurs.  Like the general public, paleontologists have been fascinated by the diversity of large dinosaurs, and the relative rarity (both in terms of number of species and abundance) of small taxa. This observed pattern is different from those of modern terrestrial faunas, in which species of small size (less than about 100kg) are more diverse and much more numerous than species of large size. Dr. Evans’ research group has recently addressed this anomaly by looking at completeness patterns and the history of collection in the Dinosaur Park Formation. This work showed that our current knowledge of the large-bodied dinosaur assemblage is a reasonable representation of the true fauna, small species are grossly underrepresented both in terms of abundance and diversity. This research documented for the first time, through a series of sophisticated analyses, that strong biases act against the preservation of small-bodied taxa in this well documented and well-sampled assemblage, and that researchers need to study more fragmentary remains to reveal the diversity of these ecologically important small-bodied dinosaur species.  These issues are explored further in a paper published in Nature Communications in 2013 on the hidden diversity of small plant-eating dinosaurs in these same systems.  This research has major implications for our understanding of global dinosaur diversity patterns because these similar preservational biases are likely common to most dinosaur assemblages in other regions of the world, since most are preserved in similar alluvial-paralic settings.  Thus, the structure of dinosaur communities may not be as unusual as we previously thought, and future work, based on these findings, will likely change the way we study patterns of diversity through Earth history, and impact our understanding of major extinction events.

It is very exciting to follow the research programs of these two young scientists, and we can look forward to many new discoveries in the coming years. 

Robert R. Reisz, PhD, FLS, FRSC

Vice Dean Graduate, Distinguished Professor of Paleontology, Department of Biology, University of Toronto Mississauga

Scientific Academies in Japan and China: Lessons Learned and Opportunities for Cooperation - Keith Hipel, FRSC

Keith HipelIntroduction

During the month of March, 2013, and again in February and March of 2014, Keith Hipel visited Japan as part of his activities falling under the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) Eminent Scientist Award. This award is bestowed upon “foreign researchers such as Nobel laureates, who possess a record of excellent research achievements and who are mentors and leaders in their respective fields”, to visit “Japan for the purpose of associating directly with younger Japanese researchers so as to mentor, stimulate and inspire them to greater attainments.” Additionally, in early December of 2013 as well as from April 15th to May 15th, 2014, Hipel paid academic visits to China in order to deliver research seminars and work on joint academic projects.

During his recent trips to Japan and China, Hipel took the opportunity to pay courtesy visits to science and engineering academies in these countries. The purpose of this article is to outline how each of the Asian organizations that Hipel visited is structured and to make suggestions about structural designs our Academy of Science and the Royal Society of Canada, may wish emulate as well as point out opportunities for meaningful cooperation. Overall, academic academies in Japan and China are much better funded than ours, are requested to address pressing problems of national concern on a regular basis, have strong direct linkages with centres of political power, and are highly respected by all segments of society.

Academy Visits in Japan

The Japan Academy

On Friday, March 15th, 2013, Professor Takehiro Inohara of the Tokyo Institute of Technology accompanied Hipel to the headquarters of The Japan Academy located in a specially-designed building in Ueno Park in Tokyo. From 10:30 am to noon, they met with three key people: President Masaaki Kubo (research field is Greek classics), Vice President Takashi Sugimura (medicine, oncology) and Member Kunihiko Suzuki (neurology and psychiatry). In October 2013, Prof. Sugimura became the new President of The Japan Academy and when Hipel and Inohara paid a return visit to the Academy on February 25th, 2014, they met with President Sugimara, Prof. Yoshihide Kozai (Chair of Section II of The Japan Academy, works in astronomy) and Prof. Toshimitsu Yamazaki (nuclear science).

Structure: In total, there can only be 150 Members at any one point in time, with 70 coming from the Humanities and Social Sciences (Section I) and 80 from Pure Sciences and their Applications (Section II). Being elected Member of The Japan Academy is clearly the most prestigious recognition that an academic can receive in Japan and is the closest equivalent to being elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. Because the number of Members cannot exceed 150, becoming a Member is highly competitive and the average age of the current Members is 80. The Emperor and Empress of Japan attend each annual meeting and personally welcome each newly elected Member into the Academy. In fact, the main meeting hall has two exquisite throne seats located on the stage of the main hall in which the Emperor and Empress are seated during the ceremony. The President of The Japan Academy reports directly to the Emperor regarding key academic initiatives and issues in Japan. This vividly demonstrates the great import of researcand education in Japan.

Discussions: At the start of the first meeting in 2013, President Kubo and his colleagues provided an overview of the history, purpose and activities of their Academy. Subsequently, Hipel provided a summary of the history and activities of the RSC using printed material supplied by Darren Gilmour. On the second visit, he presented to President Sugimara a gift of a maple knurl having a maple leaf carved on it by a First Nations person with the names of the Royal Society of Canada and Academy of Science engraved above the maple leaf. Hipel mentioned that the first Members of the RSC College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists, would be selected and then inducted into the new College in November 2014 in Québec City.

Observations: The Japan Academy is pleased to have a Memorandum of Agreement on Scientific Exchanges with the Royal Society of Canada which was signed by John Meisel (RSC President) on May 17, 1995 and Yoshio Fujita (President of The Japan Academy). This connection to the RSC is prominently displayed on the website of the Academy ( along with ten other national academies including the Royal Society of London.

Suggestions: A new agreement is not required at the present time, although if an RSC Fellow initiated a special joint project, The Japan Academy would be glad to consider being involved with it. One of the Japanese officers who was at the meeting held on March 15th, 2013, thought that it would be nice to have closer Trans Pacific cultural and economic relationships between Japan and a country like Canada and perhaps an historical document could be written about this. Additionally, the Japan Academy publishes three journals in English, for which the Proceedings of the Japan Academy, Series A, Mathematical Sciences, publishes papers in both English and French. The RSC may also wish to consider publishing journals on a regular basis. Finally, as just mentioned, the Emperor and Empress of Japan are actively involved with activities of The Japan Academy. Would it be possible to have Canada’s Head of State, the Governor General, more actively associated with RSC events on a continual schedule?

The Science Council of Japan

On the morning of Monday, March 18th, 2013, Prof. Inohara took Hipel to the Science Council of Japan (SCJ) for a meeting that lasted for one hour. The SCJ building is located adjacent to the National Art Center Tokyo in the Roppongi area of Tokyo. A record of this meeting can be found on the website of SCJ at The SCJ personnel who participated in that meeting were President Takahashi Onishi (research area is city planning), Dr. Fumiko Kasuga (Vice President in Charge of International Activities, works in public health), Mr. Sninya Iijima (Deputy Director-General, Secretariat), and Mr. Masakazu Sato (Director, International Affairs Division, Secretariat). On February 25, 2014, Hipel and Inohara visited SCJ again at which time President Onishi, Mr. IIjima, Mr. Sato, Mr. Kazuya Taguchi (Director-General) were in attendance.

Discussions and Structure: At the initial meeting in 2013, Dr. Onishi gave an overview of the SCJ while Hipel described the purpose and activities of the RSC. At the 2014 meeting, Hipel mentioned the launching of the College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists by the RSC and was informed that in October of 2014, a Young Academy will be founded within the SCJ for promising scientists who are not older than 45. The SCJ consists of 210 Council Members and 2,000 Members, who are elected as representatives of Japan’s 840,000 scientists. The 210 Council Members are appointed by the Prime Minister. In contrast to the situation in Canada, the JSC President communicates directly with the Prime Minister on issues of national concern. The length of the term of membership for both the Council Members and Members is six years and retirement age is 70. The Council for Science and Technology Policy exists within the Japanese Government to furnish specific scientific policy advice while the SCJ may provide overall policy recommendations. The SCJ is pleased to have some connections with the RSC such as the project dealing with women in science. From a list of candidates provided by Dr. Jeremy McNeil (RSC Foreign Secretary) in September 2013, Dr. Jessica Rhoda was selected by the SCJ to participate in the Canada-Japan WISET (Women in Science, Engineering and Technology) exchange programme.

Observations: The RSC is similar to the SCJ in the sense that it investigates problems of national interest. However, it overlaps with The Japan Academy because being Fellow of the RSC is a lifetime recognition just like being Member of The Japan Academy. The SCJ is involved with a range of major projects in Japan such as its 2011 report entitled “Toward Reconstruction of the Areas Affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake – Goals for Reconstruction and the Seven Principles”. Moreover, a committee exists for each of the 30 academic disciplines within the SJC to address issues arising in that discipline. Hence, because its Members are heavily occupied the SCJ is not actively seeking work with foreign national academies but would welcome joint projects that naturally arise.

Suggestions: As mentioned above, The Japan Academy and SCJ have strong connections with the Emperor and Prime Minister, respectively. Although the RSC is linked to the Governor General in Canada, the RSC does not have strong connections with the Prime Minister and Parliament of Canada. Moreover, The Japan Academy and the SCJ are much better funded than the RSC in Canada. Clearly, research and education in Japan are held at a far higher level than they are in Canada by both the government and the general public. If Canada is to succeed in research and development, education, innovative industrial growth, cultural maturity, environmental stewardship and other related areas, the links among government, society and industry must be significantly strengthened.

The Engineering Academy of Japan

On February 25th, 2014, Professor Inohara and Hipel had a one-hour meeting with President Hiroshi Komiyama of the Engineering Academy of Japan (EAJ). Dr. Komiyama is Chair of the Institute, Mitsubishi Research Institute, Inc. in Tokyo; President of the Platinum Society Network; and President Emeritus of Tokyo University. This highly accomplished engineer expressed his determination to make the EAJ a highly influential organization.

Structure: The forerunner of the EAJ is the Engineering Academy of Japan which was founded on April 16, 1987 as a voluntary organization. On January 5, 1998, this academy was reorganized as the EAJ Inc. with the Prime Minister’s permission. The EAJ is a member of the Council of Academies of Engineering and Technological Sciences (CAETS), an international body having 26 national academies as members including the Canadian Academy of Engineering (CAE). Unlike The Japan Academy and the SCJ, the EAJ operates as a non-governmental organization with members from academia, industry and government. The mission of the EAJ is to contribute to the general advancement of engineering and technological sciences in Japan, keeping in mind environmental, societal and economic issues. Currently, the EAJ has about 600 members some of whom  write reports on topics of national concern to Japan such as energy supply after the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Disaster.

Observations and Suggestions: EAJ operates in a similar fashion to CAE and brings together industry and academia. Under the leadership of Dr. Komiyama, the EAJ is strongly committed to tackling environmental problems not only in Japan but globally. This year, his book entitled “Beyond the Limits to Growth” was published by Springer. RSC Fellows who are interested in sustainable development may wish to follow activities of the EAJ and it members.

The Chinese Academy of Engineering

K.W. Hipel, along with Dean Philip Chen (Dean of the Faculty of Science and Technology, University of Macau) and Prof. Dewang Chen (State Key Laboratory of Rail Traffic Control and Safety, Beijing Jiaotong University) visited the Chinese Academy of Engineering from 10:30 to 1 pm on Monday, December 16th, 2013, where President Ji Zhou (PhD in Mechanical Engineering from the State University of New York at Buffalo) was their host. Dr. Zhou has been President for the Academy since 2010 and prior to that he was the Minister of Education in China (2003 to 2009).

Structure: The Chinese Academy of Engineering was started in 1994 as an organization within the State Council of China. Accordingly, the Academy uses the best engineers and scientists in the country to tackle many tough problems that are of national concern. The Academy receives generous funding to complete important projects that directly benefit Chinese citizens. The Academy has just over 750 Academicians (Fellows) who are elected nationally. The Academy is housed in an impressive new building located in the Xicheng District of Beijing near the famous Gate of Virtuous Triumph (Deshengmen).   

Discussions: For the first hour of the meeting, Hipel and Zhou sat on chairs at the front in a small formal meeting room to have research discussions, followed by a formal luncheon from 11:30 to 1:00 pm. In addition to Zhou, Hipel, Chen and Wang, Mr. Guokai Wu (Deputy Secretary General of the CAE) and Ms. Liang Wang (interpreter) were present at the luncheon. The Chinese Academy of Engineering is tackling many problems of national importance to China such as the migration of about 15 million people per year from the countryside to cities, energy production to cut down on greenhouse gas releases (solar thermal power in the west, high voltage technologies for long distance transmission of electricity over 2000 km with only 10% losses), nuclear power (planning to build 30 third-generation nuclear reactors), wind energy and solar panels. The government is aware that it must reduce air, land and water pollution

The Chinese Academy of Sciences

On April 23, 2014, Prof. Jian Chen (Lenovo Chair Professor, and also Chair, Department of Management Science and Engineering,  School of Economics and Management, Tsinghua University) accompanied K.W. Hipel to the headquarters of the Chinese Academy of Science (CAS) in Beijing for a one-hour meeting with President Chunli Bai who is an expert in nanoscience and also President of the Presidium of the Academic Divisions of CAS as well as President of the World Academy of Sciences for the Advancement of Science in Developing Countries. Also present at the meeting were Vice Director-General Jingze Wang (General Office of Academic Divisions, CAS), as well as three administrators from the Bureau of International Affairs (Cao Jinghua (Deputy Director-General), Sun Hui (Deputy Director) and Zhang Qingquan).

Structure: CAS is one of the most prestigious and influential organizations in China. Its mission is to bring together scientists and engineers in China to address both theoretical and applied problems for the benefit of China and the world. Similar to becoming a Fellow of the RSC, each Academician or Fellow of CAS is elected nationally by current Acadamicians based on merit and currently CAS has over 700 Acadamicians. Like the National Research Council (NRC) of Canada, CAS has under its control a network of research institutes but on a much grander scale. In fact, CAS has 104 research institutes spread across the country. Moreover, CAS controls 2 universities and 3 associated supporting organizations in addition to 12 regional CAS management offices. CAS is regularly requested by the government to tackle many generously funded projects of national concern, many of which are actually implemented by the government. Fortunately for China, CAS works very closely with the government and CAS scientists are highly respected by the government as well as virtually all segments of Chinese society. In total, 124 institutions fall under the umbrella of CAS, which was founded on November 1, 1949, following the Soviet model of having a large academy of science in addition to universities. In total, there are about 65,000 people employed by CAS which constitutes a key driving force in making China a first-class industrialized nation. In fact, CAS has created many enterprises including Lenovo.

Discussions: During the first part of the meeting, President Bai outlined the structure and key activities of CAS. He mentioned that CAS publishes academic journals.  He then went on to say that China recognizes that it still has to be more creative in its research. To help to rectify this creativity gap with the West, China is devoting a significant amount of funding to better support its own scientists and to attract renowned foreign researchers to come to China for both short and long-term visits as well as permanently. More specifically, under China’s One Thousand Talents Program, universities in China and institutes of CAS offer lucrative research positions to productive overseas Chinese academics working at respected universities in the West, Japan and elsewhere in order to attract them to return to China under short, medium or long-term arrangements. This program is also open to non-Chinese foreigners. In addition, better universities in China are now hiring accomplished foreign professors who speak no Chinese. Clearly, China is on the road to becoming a research-intensive nation.

Observation: CAS, the best universities in China, and other Chinese organizations at the central, provincial and local governmental levels now have at their disposal significant sums of money for executing joint research with foreign researchers. When Hipel asked specifically about research on climate change, President Bai calmly responded that CAS has two to three thousand scientists working on this problem!

Suggestion: Clearly, there are many opportunities for an individual Canadian researcher and a scholarly organization like the RSC to cooperate with researchers in China on projects that could be fully or largely funded by China. In particular, about half a million dollars are required to cover the cost of an Expert Panel falling under the jurisdiction of the RSC. Therefore, RSC Fellows, especially those having strong connections with researchers in China, are encouraged to put together a research team composed of Canadian and Chinese scholars to form an Expert Panel to tackle a research problem that is of national concern to both countries. Although this may not be easy to accomplish in practice since Expert Panels may be construed as being too closely connected to policy rather than pure or applied research, it is certainly worth the effort to try. Keep in mind that China is cognizant of the fact that Canada has many highly accomplished scientists who could work on joint projects with their Chinese counterparts. If you have an idea for an Expert Panel, please contact Prof. David Layzell from the University of Calgary who is Chair of the Committee on Expert Panels for the RSC.

Summary of Suggestions

Based on the courtesy visits that Hipel paid to the aforementioned academies in Japan and China in 2013 and 2014, as well as his over three decades of experience in carrying out research activities with both Japanese and Chinese scholars, he would like to summarize his suggestions on what you can do to benefit the Academy of Science and the RSC. Possible activities that you can undertake include:

Write an article for publication in the Academy of Science Bulletin about some interesting research that you are doing with foreign colleagues in Japan, China or elsewhere in the world. As encouraged by Prof. Andrew Miall, the Academy Editor, success stories about your research projects are welcome. Of course, stories about research projects that are not connected to an international project are also welcome. Kindly contact Dr. Miall directly if you have an idea for an article.

Provide a description for publication in the Bulletin of a particular foreign academy or research institution which you think may be of interest to individual RSC Fellows or the RSC as an organization. This may be connected to a research project as mentioned under item 1. Please get in touch with Andrew Miall about this.

If you have a suggestion for a foreign or other international organization with which you think the RSC may wish to have a formal arrangement or agreement, please contact Professor Jeremy McNeil who is the Foreign Secretary of the RSC.

Initiate a joint international Expert Panel with colleagues in Japan, China or elsewhere for which you may be able to obtain substantial funding from the foreign partner. For example, as mentioned above, the Chinese Academy of Science and other Chinese organizations are encouraging extensive foreign involvement in research. As noted earlier, contact Prof. David Layzell who is the Chair of the RSC Committee on Expert Panels. The procedure to follow when proposing an Expert Panel proposal can be found on the RSC website.

Kindly contact Prof. Graham Bell, President of the RSC, if you have any ideas on how the RSC could strengthen its ties with government beyond measures that are already being taken. If the measures for informing and working with government are closely connected to a particular academy within the RSC, you may also wish to get in touch with the President of that Academy. You may wish to read about the existing commendable outreach activities of the Partnership Group for Science and Engineering (PAGSE) which is now based in our Academy of Science. As already mentioned, strong connections exist between academies in Japan and China and their respective governments. Although not explained in detail in this article, overall these Asian academies also have strong outreach activities. Keep in mind that strengthening our governmental and other types of connections with society, coupled with a range of outreach activities, increases the probability of our knowledge and hard work adding real value to the lives of Canadians.

If you have an idea for an RSC journal that you would like to see sponsored by the RSC, please contact Andrew Miall, the Academy Editor, President Graham Bell, or one of the three Academy Presidents, about your thoughts. Most of the key academies in Asia publish journals. Especially welcome would be an endowment to support a journal.