Chemistry of Super Heroes & Super Villains (TONIGHT!)

Dr. Yann Brouillette, a chemistry professor in Montreal, Quebec, is the head writer for the Canadian super hero comic book series Heroes of the North. Using his extensive knowledge of chemistry, he analyzes super powers using chemical evidence, looking at the science behind the science fiction!

The presentation is free to anyone who comes dressed-up as their favourite super hero or super villain. (Details)

TIME: Thursday, April 3, 2014 at 7:00 pm

LOCATION: Margaret Zeidler Star Theatre, Telus World of Science

The event is brought to you by Red Deer College/Foundation, the Red Deer College Student Association, & the Edmonton local section of the Chemical Institute of Canada.

CIC Members, contact Lucio Gelmini ( for tickets.


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Cafe CIC: Chemistry of Wine (with lab component)

Cafe CIC presents:  The Art, History, and Chemistry of Wine

 Come and enjoy music, wine (6 varietals) and cheese and learn about the chemistry of wine.  An excellent professional development event brought to you by the local section of the Chemical Institute of Canada

Note: There will be a hands on component (laboratory – no lab coats needed)

Date: March 18th, 2014 6:30 PM
Location: Concordia University
The location of the room will be provided to those attending.

$15 for CIC members
$20 for non-members

January Speaker: Prof. Ratmir Derda

Update: Please note that the date has been changed. 

January 21 we will be hosting Prof. Ratmir Derda of the University of Alberta for a talk on his research. Anyone is welcome to join us for a look at how he and his team have built massive libraries of ligands using DNA and post-translational modifications.

PDF with abstract and directions.

Location: University of Alberta, Chemistry room E3-25 (map)

Date: Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Time: 6:30 PM refreshments; 7:00 PM lecture

Title: Genetically-Encoded Libraries of Chemicals

Genetically encoded libraries, in which each ligand is attached to a DNA tag, are increasingly used for ligand discovery. Natural translation of DNA, however, could yield only libraries of peptides made of 20 natural amino acids. In our lab, we expand diversity of genetic libraries using chemical post translational modifications. For example, we used N-terminal Ser oxidation to synthesize 10^9 of aldehyde-peptides and convert them to glycans in high yield. Alternatively, we alkylated Cys-containing libraries by unnatural azobenzene-linkers to generate genetically-encoded libraries of light-responsive small-molecules. Our group also develops optimized screening strategies that yield reproducible inhibitors with 48-hour turnaround time. Selection consists of 3-5 replicas of panning, multiple control experiments and next-generation sequencing of all experiments at once. Each experiment yields 10^5 sequences, from which we could extract statistically-significantly enriched “leads” using statistical analysis. With proper mathematical treatment, experiment can yield a ligand and S.A.R. for it at once. This approach to screening is unprecedented in genetically encoded library and it could change the way ligand design and discovery is performed.

The Science of Breaking Bad

RSVP to Lucio Gelmini <> to reserve a seat.

Presented by Jonathan Withey, Associate Professor, Chemistry MacEwan University

Date:  Thu, Nov. 21st 2013
Start:  6:00 PM networking (coffee and juice) 7:00 p.m. (lecture)
Location: Room 5-142 (CN Theatre) Grant MacEwan University, City Centre Campus 

“The chemistry must be respected”

Walter White is a brilliant research chemist who has to leave his work and take up teaching chemistry in a high school. After being diagnosed with terminal cancer, he turns his skills to methamphetamine production in collaboration with former pupil Jesse Pinkman. Together, they produce unusually pure methamphetamine, with a characteristic delicate blue colour. But what of the real science behind Breaking Bad? From methamphetamine to ricin, and hydrofluoric acid to fulminate of mercury, this presentation will discuss the scientific accuracy of the hit TV show. Spoiler warning: multiple plot details will be revealed in this presentation!

About the presenter

Jonathan Withey is an organic chemist, who has been at faculty member at MacEwan University since 2004. Despite the challenges of scrambling over the obstacles of life, he has never resorted to using crystal meth

-RSVP (so we have enough refreshments)-limited to 100 people so register early
-Feel free to wear your Breaking Bad attire – will make an interesting photo for national chemistry magazine
-If you are so inclined, bring some Breaking Bad food to share
(Lucio will be bringing some breaking bad muffins-maybe even some Breaking Bad blue meth(sugar crystals)
-Tell your friends, especially students who are interested in the show and chemistry

Engaging Chemistry | Edmonton Distinguished Lectures in Chemistry 2013 | Dr. Harry Gray (Caltech)

Dr. Harry Gray (the Arnold O. Beckman Professor of Chemistry and the Founding Director of the Beckman Institute at the California Institute of Technology) is this years speaker for the Engaging Chemistry: Edmonton Distinguished Lecture Series in Chemistry. He will be speaking at Edmonton City Hall on October 22nd, and at the University of Alberta on October 23rd (details below). [Pamphlet PDF]

Read more about Dr. Gray and his research on his Caltech website, Wikipedia, or this interview on YouTube.

Date: Tuesday, October 22, 2013, 7:30-9:30 pm
Place: Edmonton City Hall (map)
Print Flyer: PDF

The sun is a boundless source of clean energy, but it goes down every night. We and many others are trying to design solar-driven molecular machines that could be used on a global scale to store solar energy by splitting water into its elemental components, hydrogen and oxygen. Hydrogen is a clean fuel that could be used directly or combined with carbon dioxide to produce methanol, a liquid fuel. We are investigating the structures and mechanisms of hydrogen evolving catalysts made from Earth abundant elements such
as cobalt, iron, nickel, and molybdenum. We also are employing pulsed laser ablation for synthesis of metal- oxide nanoparticles that will be deployed as catalysts on photoanodes such as tungsten oxide. To aid our research, we have recruited hundreds of students to join a Solar Army whose mission is the discovery of mixed- metal oxides for
testing on the photoanodes of our solar water splitters.

Date: Wednesday, October 23, 2013
Time: 4:00-5:30 pm
Place: CCIS, Room L1-140, University of Alberta, North Campus (map)
Print Flyer: PDF

Molecular hydrogen has emerged as an attractive candidate for a clean, renewable fuel to meet the world’s skyrocketing demand for energy. Hydrogenase enzymes that contain iron and nickel cofactors evolve H2 catalytically from water with turnover frequencies as high as 9000 s-1 at 30 °C. However, the relative instability of these enzymes under aerobic conditions has led to the search for robust inorganic catalysts that can produce hydrogen from water. Platinum is an excellent catalyst for proton reduction and hydrogen oxidation, but scarcity and high cost limit its widespread use. Our emphasis is on heterogeneous and homogeneous catalysts made from earth-abundant elements that could be part of scalable solar fuel devices. Promising heterogeneous catalysts include MoS2 and Ni–Mo, which reduce protons in aqueous solutions with catalytic efficiencies near that of platinum. While homogeneous catalysts typically degrade faster than their heterogeneous counterparts, molecular systems are much easier to study mechanistically. Cobalt complexes enable
electrocatalytic production of H2 from solutions with high turnover frequencies, and kinetics investigations have established that the reactive intermediate is a Co(II)-hydride. The challenge of water oxidation in many ways eclipses that of proton reduction. The oxidation reaction involves the rearrangement of more protons and electrons, and fewer good catalysts for the reaction exist that are made of earth-abundant materials. We have found that 3 to 5 nm metal-oxide particles made by pulsed laser ablation of precursors in water are very active water oxidation catalysts. We hope to elucidate the electronic structures of these very small nanoparticles as part of a program with the goal of understanding their mechanisms.

Lecture on Oil Spills (September 26)

Merv Fingas, former Chief of the Emergencies Science Division of Environment Canada, and author of “The Basics of Oil Spill Clean Up“, will be speaking on ocean oil spills on Thursday, September 26 at Concordia University College of Alberta. Come out and learn about an issue of relevance to all Albertans!

Title: “Ocean Oil-spills: the Deepwater Horizon Blowout – Chemistry and Lessons”

Date: Thursday,  September 26, 2013.

Time: 7:00 PM Lecture / 6:15 PM Refreshments

Location: Concordia’s campus. 7128 Ada Blvd, Edmonton, AB [Map] ( Lecture takes place in lecture theatre HA015, lower level of building where you enter the campus. )

Cost: FREE (All are welcome to attend!) Continue reading

Lecture on Serendipitous Chemistry with Dr. Joe Schwarcz

Serendipitous Chemistry with Dr. Joe Schwarcz
Wed, Jun 19 2013, CN Conference Theatre (5-142), City Centre Campus, MacEwan University
6:00 p.m. Refreshments, 7:00 p.m. Lecture

Although many chemical discoveries have been the result of goal oriented research, there are a good number that have come about serendipitously. But as Louis Pasteur stated, “chance favours the prepared mind.” William Perkin’s chance discovery of synthetic dyes, Fleming’s discovery of penicillin, Craven’s discovery of aspirin’s anti-clotting effect and the discovery of artificial sweeteners are just some of the examples to be explored.

Please RSVP to

2013 AGM

Annual General Meeting
When: June 5th, 2013
Where: Papachase room at the Faculty Club (U of A)
Time: 5 pm: guest arrival time + cocktails (cash bar) – net working
6 pm: dinner is served
6:45 pm: AGM meeting
7 pm: Lecture: Dr. David Bundle
Cost: Grad and Undergrad Students: $30 before May 27 ($35 after)
Members: $35 before May 27 ($40 after)
Non-members: $40 before May 27 ($45 after)
Any confirmations made after May 27th (11:59 PM) will be charged the late fee – no exceptions
Please note – any cancellations on or after June 3rd must be paid for as we need to lock down numbers for the faculty club.
We are asking people to pay at the door by check or cash.
RSVP: By email to Lucio Gelmini: by June 3rd (with your choice of Beef, Fish or Vegetarian).
Also RSVP to Lucio if you are interested in attending the Joe Schwarcz lecture on June 19th at Grant MacEwan University at 7 PM.
Starter: Spinach, Mushroom & Strawberry Salad (with balsamic vinaigrette and goat cheese)
Your choice of:
Prime Rib of Beef (sauce au jus with Yorkshire pudding)
Baked Filet of Salmon (with one large tiger shrimp and Hollandaise sauce)
Vegetarian Lasagna (with two fresh steamed vegetables)

Dessert: Frozen Chocolate Mousse (with chocolate splash)


The Chemistry of Vaccines against Major Microbial Pathogens

Bacteria possess a polysaccharide coat that protects them from the initial defenses of the human immune system. However, antibodies that bind these polysaccharides can provide protection against bacterial diseases such as pneumonia and meningitis. This observation provides the basis for using polysaccharides extracted from bacteria as vaccines to confer protection against these and other deadly bacterial diseases.

I will review the progress over the last 40 years toward improved vaccines from the perspectives of the chemistry and immunology that underpins these lifesaving prophylactics. From their modest start currently approved vaccines have become block buster “drugs” for major pharma, that easily exceed the sales of major drugs including Viagra. Recent developments in chemistry suggest that chemical synthesis may in some cases provide fully synthetic vaccines for some diseases.

See also:
Interview Video: NSERC Presents 2 Minutes with David Bundle
2011 NSERC Brockhouse Canada Prize for Interdisciplinary Research in Science and Engineering

Biographical Sketch
Professor David Bundle obtained his B.Sc. in Chemistry from Nottingham University (UK) and studied for his Ph.D. in Microbiological Chemistry at the University of Newcastle (UK). He came to Canada as a National Research Council of Canada (NRC) postdoctoral fellow in 1971 to work with Dr. Harold Jennings on the capsular antigens ofNeisseria meningitidis. In 1973 he accepted a postdoctoral fellowship with Professor Raymond Lemieux at the University of Alberta, where he was part of the group that carried out the first rational synthesis of blood group antigens and their covalent attachment to proteins for use as artificial antigens. He then returned to the Division of Biological Science, NRC, where he was successively Group Leader and Head of the Immunochemistry Section. In 1993, he returned to the Department of Chemistry at the University of Alberta where he holds the Lemieux chair in carbohydrate chemistry. He was a member of both the Protein Engineering and the Bacterial Diseases Network Centres of Excellence. In 2002 he founded the Alberta Ingenuity Centre for Carbohydrate Science and was Centre Director from September 2002 to December 2011.

Professor Bundle’s research interests centre on the immunochemistry of bacterial and mammalian antigens. Amongst his most notable scientific publications are contributions that reported

  • the application of the then new technique of 13C NMR to the structural elucidation of the capsular antigens of Neisseria meningitidis
  • the first rational synthesis of blood group antigens and their use as artificial antigens and immuno-absorbents (patents arising from this work resulted in the establishment of ChemBiomed, a University spin-off and Canada’s first biotechnology venture)
  • definitive studies on the structures and serology of the Brucella O-antigens
  • the first crystal structure of a carbohydrate-antibody complex
  • design of high avidity multivalent ligands for multi-subunit proteins such the Shiga like toxin of pathogenic E. coli O157:H7.

Professor Bundle is a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. With four members of the Carbohydrate Centre he was a recipient of the 2011 Brockhouse Canada Prize for Interdisciplinary Research in Science and Engineering,. He has received all three major international awards for research on carbohydrates; the 1988 Roy L. Whistler Award in Carbohydrate Chemistry, from the International Carbohydrate Organization, the American Chemical Society’s 2006 Claude S. Hudson Award in Carbohydrate Chemistry, and the Royal Society of Chemistry’s 2012 Haworth Memorial Lectureship.