organization:mcgill university

  • Can We Really Inherit #Trauma? - The New York Times

    “These are, in fact, extraordinary claims, and they are being advanced on less than ordinary evidence,” said Kevin Mitchell, an associate professor of genetics and neurology at Trinity College, Dublin. “This is a malady in modern science: the more extraordinary and sensational and apparently revolutionary the claim, the lower the bar for the evidence on which it is based, when the opposite should be true.”

    Investigators in the field say the critique is premature: the science is still young and feeling its way forward. Studies in mice, in particular, have been offered as evidence of such trauma-transmission, and as a model for studying the mechanisms. “The effects we’ve found have been small but remarkably consistent, and significant,” said Moshe Szyf, a professor of pharmacology at McGill University. “This is the way science works. It’s imperfect at first and gets stronger the more research you do.”

    The debate centers on genetics and biology. Direct effects are one thing: when a pregnant woman drinks heavily, it can cause fetal alcohol syndrome. This happens because stress on a pregnant mother’s body is shared to some extent with the fetus, in this case interfering directly with the normal developmental program in utero.

    But no one can explain exactly how, say, changes in brain cells caused by abuse could be communicated to fully formed sperm or egg cells before conception. And that’s just the first challenge. After conception, when sperm meets egg, a natural process of cleansing, or “rebooting,” occurs, stripping away most chemical marks on the genes. Finally, as the fertilized egg grows and develops, a symphony of genetic reshuffling occurs, as cells specialize into brain cells, skin cells, and the rest. How does a signature of trauma survive all of that?


  • She Left #Harvard. He Got to Stay.

    Did the university’s handling of one professor’s sexual-harassment complaint keep other women from coming forward for decades?

    Karl’s first semester at Harvard went well. Her course evaluations were excellent, she remembers. When Domínguez came by her office one day that summer, he wrapped her in his arms and tried to kiss her. She pulled away, though she didn’t make a scene. She didn’t want to offend him. Domínguez offered a parting suggestion: Don’t spend too much time on students, he said, because teaching is not what Harvard rewards.

    She mentioned the hug and kiss to some friends, but didn’t report him to administrators. She hoped it was an aberration.

    That fall, Harvard hosted a dinner that included, as a guest, the former president of Venezuela, Rafael Caldera. Karl had done research in Venezuela, and had gotten to know Caldera. When she arrived at the dinner, Domínguez greeted her then turned to Caldera and said, “Conoce a Terry. Ella es mi esclava.”

    Translation: “You know Terry. She is my slave.”

    Domínguez asked for a ride home that night, as he often did. She had come to dread those requests, but it was hard to say no. In the car, she confronted him about the comment. He told her he was surprised that she was offended. That’s when he kissed her and slid his hand up her skirt, telling her he would be the next department chairman, decide her promotion, review her book. Karl froze. She had never even heard the term “sexual harassment,” but she knew what was going on. “I’m feeling like somebody is asking for sexual favors in return for a good review,” she says.

    Later, she would scold herself for being naïve, for not recognizing what seemed, in retrospect, like an obvious ploy. She also told herself she could handle it. “You try to minimize it,” she says. “OK, this just happened in the hotel, and I’m going to lunch with him and I’m going to say ‘Don’t ever do this again’ and it’s going to be OK. You tell yourself over and over, ‘It’s going to be OK.’”

    Considering his previous behavior, Karl took the statement as a threat. “At this point, I became physically afraid of him,” she would later write when describing the incident in a complaint filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. She was determined never to be alone with him again.

    At the end of July 1983, Karl and Domínguez signed an agreement, one she hoped would offer some measure of protection. Domínguez promised to “conduct himself in the future at all times in a fashion respectful” of Karl. In August, Rosovsky wrote in a letter to Karl that Domínguez’s “repeated sexual advances and certain other deprecating actions” amounted to a “serious abuse of authority — for which he is fully responsible.” Along with being temporarily removed from administrative responsibilities, he was also forbidden from reviewing Karl’s work or taking part in discussions about her promotion. As for Karl, she was given three semesters of paid leave, and her tenure clock was put on hold for two years. In addition, Rosovsky said that administrators would talk more about sexual-harassment procedures and that the faculty council might address it.

    But the books weren’t closed yet. Karl was hearing rumors that made her worried about her reputation. In October Domínguez met with a number of graduate students, including Philip Oxhorn, now a professor of political science at McGill University. Oxhorn recalls that Domínguez told the students what happened was “a love affair gone bad, and that he was as much a victim as Terry, if not more so.” Another graduate student who was at that meeting, Cynthia Sanborn, now research vice president at the University of the Pacific, in Peru, later described it in a letter to Rosovsky: “[Domínguez] clearly implied that his harassment of the junior professor in this case was actually a ’misunderstanding,’ and if he could only tell us his side of the story we would see things differently,” she wrote.

    Meanwhile Domínguez steadily climbed the ladder at Harvard. In 1995, he was selected as director of the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs, a post previously occupied by scholarly heavyweights like Samuel Huntington and Robert Putnam. In 2006, he was made vice provost for international affairs, and, in 2014, he and Harvard’s president, Drew Gilpin Faust, traveled to Mexico City together as part of the university’s international outreach. In 2016, a dissertation prize was set up in Domínguez’s honor at the university’s Latin American-studies center. Originally the prize, and the $54,000 raised to support it, was to be given through the Latin American Studies Association, but when some who knew about Domínguez’s behavior, including Philip Oxhorn, caught wind of the plan, they worked behind the scenes to scuttle it. “This was not a man who deserved that kind of recognition,” Oxhorn says.

    Karl believes Harvard administrators played down her many complaints, attempting to mollify her rather than dealing with a difficult situation head-on. Harvard refused, as some universities still do, to publicly name the person responsible. They also let him stay, and promoted him, which sent a signal that Karl believes discouraged others from coming forward. If they hadn’t done that, "then these women who experienced harassment in the 1990s and 2000s, it wouldn’t have happened, or they would have known that someone would be punished if they were harassed,” she says. “That’s the great enabling. It’s why the silence is so terrible.”
    #université #harcèlement_sexuel #injustice #Teddy_Karl #témoignage

  • What Pushes a Person to Suicide? - Facts So Romantic

    In a 2005 review, titled “Dissecting the suicide phenotype: The role of impulsive-aggressive behaviours,” Gustavo Turecki, an expert on suicide at McGill University, argues that impulsivity is a crucial aspect of suicide.Photograph by Andrew Toskin / FlickrOne May day five years ago, an ambulance arrived for me. My eyes were twitching, hands shaking, thoughts racing and confused. At that point, I hadn’t slept for three days. I’d taken drugs, fell asleep at the wheel, bumped into a car at a red light. I was closer to suicidal than ever, but I wasn’t sad. Instead, I was agitated, frantic, paranoid. What put me at risk was not sorrow, per se, but loss of control: the careless apathy that might swerve a bike into traffic. My therapist convinced me I needed help. A phone call later, the ambulance (...)

  • The Scientist Who Helped Amy Adams Talk to Aliens in “Arrival” - Facts So Romantic

    Earlier this year, when Amy Adams was in Montreal working on the sci-fi movie, Arrival, out today, she hung out with linguist Jessica Coon. In the film, Adams plays a linguist tasked by the United States government with deciphering a visiting aliens’ language. The film’s producers tapped Coon, an associate professor in the Department of Linguistics at McGill University, as a scientific advisor because she specializes in studying languages spoken by relatively few people, notably Mayan tongues in Central America. Coon says chatting about her work—analyzing the structure of rare languages, working in the field—with Adams is probably the “most glamorous thing” she will ever do in her academic life. For Coon there’s a sense of urgency in her work, since many obscure languages are fast going (...)

  • Montreal disease experts tracking tropical infection in the Arctic | Montreal Gazette

    A few years ago, several children in a remote northern Quebec community got very sick with intense diarrhea. Turns out they were infected with a dangerous bug more common in the tropics — but they caught the infection in the Canadian Arctic.

    The outbreak hit at least 10 villages in Nunavik, affecting mostly children. The culprit was a microscopic intestinal parasite called Cryptosporidium. It was discovered for the first time in Nunavik, Quebec, by a Montreal team of infectious diseases experts at the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre in 2013.

    Finding a tropical strain of Cryptosporidium in the Arctic where this disease was not previously known was a big surprise, said microbiologist Cédric Yansouni, the study’s senior author and McGill University professor in the division of infectious diseases in the medical microbiology department. The parasite is more common in developing countries in Africa and South America than in Canada.
    Researchers documented 69 cases between 2013 and 2014, mostly in children under age five. But the disease is likely under-reported because most people do not bother to get tested unless they are extremely sick, he said. There is no access to local testing and samples have to be sent nearly 2,000 kilometres south to Montreal.

    It’s not clear how such a tropical disease wended its way to remote communities in the Arctic or what caused the outbreak. Crypto lives in the intestines of mammals, including humans, and is usually spread by eating contaminated food, drinking water contaminated by feces, or through contact with infected individuals. Researchers tested the drinking water in the village where the outbreak began but found no contamination there. “We may never know how it got up there,” Yansouni said.

    “It’s unlikely that initial infection was acquired from animals or contaminated waterways in the region,” Yansouni said. But the good news is that the outbreak prompted efforts to speed diagnosis locally without having to ship samples to Montreal, he added.

  • Le syndicat des étudiants de la plus prestigieuse université canadienne, McGill University, de Montréal, vote une motion BDS (le même jour que le parlement canadien vote une motion anti-BDS)...

    Controversial vote by McGill students supports BDS
    Karen Seidman, Montreal Gazette, February 22, 2016

    #Palestine #Canada #Montreal #McGill #Universités #Etudiants #BDS #Boycott_universitaire

  • Trudeau annonce « le retour » du Canada sur la scène internationale - Amériques - RFI

    Pour ce jeune Premier ministre de 43 ans « les Canadiens ont choisi le vrai changement » et il aura vite l’occasion de le mettre en pratique sur la scène internationale et notamment en raison des prochains grands rendez-vous internationaux G20, Apec, COP21 à Paris.

    Selon le spécialiste Alain Gagnon, cette politique d’ouverture sur le monde plaît aux Canadiens. « L’image de Canada comme Casque bleu a été une image très très appréciée par nombre de Canadiens. Or ce n’est pas l’image qui est projeté du Canada depuis 2001 », analyse le chercheur.

    « Sous le régime des Conservateurs c’était une vision beaucoup plus belliciste, où le Canada était moins généreux avec les pays en difficulté économique », rappelle-t-il. Il estime que désormais « il semble y avoir un réalignement et une volonté de redonner au Canada son prestige d’antan ».

    C’est d’ailleurs cette politique que menait l’ancien Premier ministre Pierre-Eliott Trudeau, père de Justin Trudeau. « La longue histoire du Parti libéral du Canada c’est une histoire où le Canada est présent pour aider les pays en difficulté, pour avoir une démarche de pacificateur. »

    "fils de" et seulement 43 ans... mais visiblement avec pleins d’opinions très loin des clones néo-libéraux que l’occident produit depuis 20 ans...

    • Trudeau : du neuf au Canada ? - Arrêt sur images

      Trudeau souhaite légaliser la vente de Marijuana, en dépit des sondages. Car prendre ses décisions en fonction des sondages, « ce n’est pas du leadership. Il y a plein de gens qui passent leur vie à ne jamais rencontrer de criminels, sauf quand ils achètent de la Marijuana. Pour moi il y a quelque chose qui ne fonctionne pas là-dedans. » Néanmoins, la vente aux mineurs, ou la consommation au volant, resteraient sévèrement punies. Il estime qu’une femme peut se présenter en niqab, le visage entièrement voilé, à une cérémonie de remise de la citoyenneté canadienne. « Le niqab est-il un symbole de l’oppression des femmes ? » lui demande le présentateur. « Il peut l’être. On peut avoir un débat intéressant. Mais pas quand il y a des enjeux plus importants ». Trudeau est opposé au retrait de la citoyenneté canadienne aux terroristes, même s’il rappelle, assez logiquement, que « la place d’un terroriste, c’est en prison ».


      Enfin, sur les 1200 disparitions inexpliquées de femmes amérindiennes, à propos desquelles le gouvernement Harper refusait toute enquête (on vous en parlait ici), diligentera-t-il pour sa part une enquête publique ? « Absolument et tout de suite ». Bref, on aurait eu tort de ne pas s’intéresser à l’élection de Justin Trudeau au Canada, pays dans lequel la politique semble être de retour -constatation toujours surprenante, et légèrement déprimante, aux yeux d’un observateur français.

    • Canadian students reject Justin Trudeau’s attack on Palestine activism, free speech
      Ali Abunimah Activism and BDS Beat 15 March 2015

      A vote on divestment taking place today at Montreal’s McGill University has attracted national attention in Canada after Liberal Party leader and would-be prime minister Justin Trudeau attacked student organizers and questioned their right to free speech.

      “The BDS [boycott, divestment and sanctions] movement, like Israeli Apartheid Week, has no place on Canadian campuses,” Trudeau tweeted. “As a @McGillU alum, I’m disappointed.”

  • sevenseas | Citizen Science at the North Pole!Citizen-Science-at-the-North-Pole/cqcy/55cab0750cf25051ca24a773

    Each boreal summer, Poseidon Expeditions runs trips for adventurous travellers to Franz Josef Land and the North Pole on nuclear icebreaker 50 let Pobedy. This year there is something new on board, in the form of a sea ice data collection project, conceived, set up and run by two of the expedition staff with the support of the company.

    Lauren Farmer and Alex Cowan have worked for several years on expedition cruise vessels in the Arctic and Antarctic and this summer will be the photographer and geologist respectively.

    They will be collecting measurements of sea ice thickness and extent, and melt pond distribution while breaking ice on the way to and from the pole. At the North Pole itself they will be measuring melt pond depth and salinity. These data are being provided to various researchers at The International Arctic Research Centre, McGill University and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers ERDC Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory, where they will be used to assess and model melting of the pack through the summer and also to validate thermodynamic models of the Arctic Ocean.

    #arctique #photographie #biodiversité

  • Study Asserts Startling Numbers of Insider Trading Rogues -

    Now, a groundbreaking new study finally puts what we’ve instinctively thought into hard numbers — and the truth is worse than we imagined.

    A quarter of all public company deals may involve some kind of insider trading, according to the study by two professors at the Stern School of Business at New York University and one professor from McGill University. The study, perhaps the most detailed and exhaustive of its kind, examined hundreds of transactions from 1996 through the end of 2012.

    The professors examined stock option movements — when an investor buys an option to acquire a stock in the future at a set price — as a way of determining whether unusual activity took place in the 30 days before a deal’s announcement.

    The results are persuasive and disturbing, suggesting that law enforcement is woefully behind — or perhaps is so overwhelmed that it simply looks for the most egregious examples of insider trading, or for prominent targets who can attract headlines.
    But, the professors conclude, the Securities and Exchange Commission litigated only “about 4.7 percent of the 1,859 M.&A. deals included in our sample.”

    Et si l’acquéreur est étranger, il a plus de chances de se retrouver dans le collimateur de la SEC…

    It is interesting to see that the odds of litigation are higher for deals that are initiated by foreign acquirers.

    Ceci d’après la conclusion de l’étude

  • Mapping Human Vulnerability to Climate Change

    First global map suggests climate change will have greatest impact 
on the populations least responsible for causing the problem

    Researchers already study how various species of plants and animals migrate in response to climate change. Now, Jason Samson, a PhD candidate in McGill University’s Department of Natural Resource Sciences, has taken the innovative step of using the same analytic tools to measure the impact of climate change on human populations. Samson and fellow researchers combined climate change data with censuses covering close to 97 per-cent of the world’s population in order to forecast potential changes in local populations for 2050.

    #environnement #climat