Thompson Rivers University
Thompson Rivers University

Abstracts & Biographies

Winter 2018


Presenter: Christian Stenner

Date: February 8, 2018

Title: Discoveries under the mountains:   Exploration of remote caves and avenues for research


Caves and karst are one of the last unexplored frontiers on our planet and represent a unique laboratory for discovery and research. Part inspirational, part adventure, and part science, this presentation will highlight some of the expeditions and field research conducted in conjunction with exploring these isolated environments. Projects have included identification of bat hibernacula and monitoring in relation to the spread of White Nose syndrome, sampling cave soils and speleothems for astrobiology studies, and, to search for antibacterial agents effective against resistant pathogenic bacteria and fungi. The presentation will particularly highlight the multi-disciplinary studies of Glacier Cave Explorers, whose projects focus on exploration of glacier and steam caves in volcanoes of the US Pacific Northwest. Expeditions have combined mountaineering, caving, and specialized skills to chart the cave systems under the glacier in the crater of Mt. St. Helens and in the world’s largest network of volcanic steam caves at the summit of Mt. Rainier. Climatology, astrobiology and geochemistry studies are being conducted along with testing robotic components of future NASA spacecraft meant to search for extraterrestrial microbial life.


Presenter: Dr. Rebeccah Stewart and Dr. Tara MacKay

Date:  March 1, 2018

Title:  Vet Medicine - Our Journey


  • Our Perspective on a Career in Veterinary Medicine

Come join us as we share our journey to vet school, time at TRU and how it prepared us for vet school life. Also, we will discuss a bit on the application process to vet school and a few highlights of our careers thus far.


Presenter: Dr. Rob O'Brien

Date:  March 8th, 2018

Title:  The Role of Mass Spectrometry in the Evolving Cannabis Sector 


The medicinal Cannabis sector and the imminent arrival of the recreation Cannabis Market will create a $10 - $20 Billion industry in Canada.  As the first of the G7 to legalize Cannabis, the eyes of the world will be focused on Canada.  It is obvious that analytical chemistry and thus Mass Spectrometry will have an important role in ensure QA/QC standards are met.  However, there will also be an enhanced role in forensic analysis, chemical fingerprinting and other more advanced applications. This talk will discuss the opportunities and challenges associated with the sector.


Presenter: Lindsay Blackstock

Date: March 29, 2018 

Title: "Urine for a Treat":  The Science Behind Sweetened Swimming Pools and Hot Tubs and What to do When Your Research Goes Viral


Acesulfame-K (ACE) is a widely consumed artificial sweetener of high stability. It is rapidly excreted, exclusively in the urine. For these reasons, ACE was investigated as an indicator of urine in swimming pools. Nitrogenous compounds in urine (e.g., urea) can react with disinfectants (e.g. chlorine) to form nitrogenous disinfection byproducts (N-DBPs) that may adverse health effects. For example, trichloramine is a volatile N-DBP, eye irritant, and is linked to asthma in professional swimmers. For the first time, our strategy was used to estimate that 75 L of urine input was required to account for the average concentration of ACE detected in a public pool.

Within 24 hours of publication, over 100 news outlets had covered our research. The study attracted global media attention, leading to dozens of interviews with media such as The Guardian, Wall Street Journal, New York Times, BBC World Live Radio, and CBC Quirks and Quarks. The national and international platforms were used to promote good swimmer hygiene for public health by rinsing off and using the washroom before jumping in the pool.

Presenter: Frank Lam

Date:  Apr. 5, 2018

Title:  CLT and Large-scale Timber Construction in North America


In USA and Canada, structural wood products play a dominant role in single family residential construction with over 90% of the market share.  Changes in demographics and economic cycles have led to declining trends of housing starts as well as increase in volatility.  Recently market preference/trend seems to be leaning towards multi-family residential housing due to the rising cost of housing in major cities.  Even though the number of housing units per multi-family residential building is obviously higher than that of a single family home, the demand of structural wood products per housing unit is smaller than that of a single family home.  Furthermore strong competition with non-wood building material exists in multi-family residential construction market.  Compare to the N. American residential construction market, the non-residential construction market is bigger in value and tends to be less cyclical.  Wood construction typically occupies 10% of the non-residential construction market share even though many more buildings can be built with wood.   Hence, protecting and expanding the market share in multi-family residential and non-residential construction sector are important goals of the N. American forest products industry.  This presentation provides some examples of large timber buildings in North America to form a benchmark of the recent advancement of the structural use of wood products in buildings.  These buildings are classified as mid-rise residential construction, large and long span structures, and tall wood construction.


Presenter: Reyna Natividad, PhD

Date: Apr. 12, 2018 

Title: Capillary Reactors for Selective Three-Phase Reactions


Three-phase reactions, i.e. hydrogenations or oxidations, are rather popular in chemical industry since a wide variety of products can be obtained from them, from a hydrogenated oil to a fine chemical like pharmaceutical actives. For more than a century, three-phase chemical processes have been conducted in typical Stirred Tank Reactors (STR). However, STR operation implies some important drawbacks like complex scaling-up and transport phenomena issues. This has motivated the scientific community around the globe to develop and assess new hydrodynamic environments to conduct three-phase reactions. In this context, capillary reactors emerge as an alternative to conduct highly selective reactions.

Thus, three successful applications of this type of reactors will be presented: selective hydrogenation of 2,4-butynediol, selective photo-oxidation of salicylic acid and photo-reduction of CO2 towards ethanol.