Public talks explore the fascinating (and sometimes scary) world of infectious diseases

From West Nile to Zika, superbugs in hospitals and the scourge of Lyme disease, there’s no doubt about it, infectious diseases are big news. The fascinating and frightening world of infectious diseases is at the heart of an innovative series of public talks presented at the Toronto Public Libraries this fall by the Faculty of Science at York University.

For millennia, infectious diseases have wreaked havoc among humans. The Fascinating (and Sometimes Scary) World of Infectious Diseases series explores how scientists are tackling these scary bugs. Five York University Professors from biology, chemistry, mathematics and statistics will offer insight into their research. They will explore the war on superbugs, innovations in disease management and monitoring, novel ways of zapping ticks and mosquitoes, harnessing the power of nature’s pharmacy to fight HIV, and the power of bacterial nanomachines.

The following talks are free and open to the public:

Kathi Hudak

Kathi Hudak

Harnessing Nature’s Pharmacy
Oct. 1, 3 to 4 pm
Brentwood Branch

Humans have taken advantage of plants’ natural defences to fend off pathogens for thousands of years. Biology Professor Kathi Hudak discusses an antiviral protein that protects plants and inhibits the replication of human retroviruses such as HIV.

Hanna Jankowski

Hanna Jankowski


Mining the Data: What Can We Learn About Infectious Diseases?
Oct. 4, 7 to 8pm
Danforth/Coxwell Branch

Statistics is about understanding the world around us. Mathematics and Statistics Professor Hanna Jankowski shows us how statisticians are using data to surveil and report on infectious diseases and to learn more about how to manage these diseases.

Dasantila Golemi Kotra

Dasantila Golemi Kotra

A War on Superbugs
Oct. 19, 6:30 to 8 pm
Don Mills Branch

Microorganisms live on and within us and we benefit from this relationship; however, bugs can turn on us and with deadly consequences. Biology Professor Dasantila Golemi-Kotra explains how humans contributed to the evolution of “superbugs” and how we might be able to revert them back to “benign” organisms.

Jean Paul Paluzzi

Jean Paul Paluzzi

The Biology of Bloodthirsty Disease Vectors
Oct. 25, 7 to 8 pm
Annette Branch

Diseases spread by mosquitoes and ticks infect over half a billion people and kill some two million every year globally. Professor Jean-Paul Paluzzi discusses the biology of these blood-feeders and how we can use it against them to tackle diseases like Lyme disease and the Zika virus.

Gerald Audette

Gerald Audette

Bacterial Nanomachines: The Key to Infection and Resistance
Nov. 7, 7 to 8pm
Barbara Frum Branch

Bacteria have sophisticated nanomachines to help them stick to various surfaces (including us!) and to exchange genetic material and molecules essential to their survival and spread. Professor Gerald Audette explains how these machines are created and how they enable infection and resistance to treatments.

In 2015, the Faculty of Science began a fruitful partnership with the Toronto Public Library.

Together, they have introduced science-inspired events and lecture series for the public at library branches across Toronto. The goal is to excite students and communities about science and showcase the excellent research happening at York University.

Past events

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