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Blues fall 3-2 to Mustangs

Men’s hockey couldn’t hold off Western in overtime action

Blues fall 3-2 to Mustangs

The Varsity Blues men’s hockey team lost to the undefeated Western Mustangs in a harrowing match that went to double overtime on Friday night. The crowd at Varsity Arena witnessed an exciting, back-and-forth game, with spectacular goaltending on both sides. The Blues led twice, but in the end, they gave up three goals with a one-man disadvantage — solidifying the loss.

The first period was a true goaltending battle, with both teams kept scoreless. The Blues’ offence finally struck early in the second, with hardworking veteran forward Dean Klomp intercepting a Western pass and sneaking it past former Hamilton Bulldogs goalie Peter Delmas on a wraparound. Delmas wasn’t shaken by the goal however; stoning Blues forward Patrick Marsh on a breakaway two minutes later and denying a flurry of rebounds to keep the score close.

The Blues powerplay struggled on a series of close chances, including a brief two-man advantage, giving the Mustangs momentum halfway through the period. Third-year Blues goalie Michael Nishi was up to the challenge, making a string of highlight reel stops, including a spectacular diving save with his glove on a one-timer. However, the Mustangs evened the game up 1-1 on a powerplay goal of their own before the period ended.

In the third, the Mustangs didn’t make it easy for the Blues — pummeling the net with the puck and constantly screening Nishi who made 37 saves that evening. Forward Connor Cleverley fired a low-percentage shot from the right wall past Delmas to give the Blues a lead. The Mustangs pulled their goalie to gain the extra attacker with a minute and a half left, and Matt Marantz tied the game 2-2 with 1:23 remaining in regulation time.

Both teams played cautious hockey in the first overtime period. Mustangs forward Shaun Furlong got an excellent chance late, which Nishi stopped to save the game. Instead of going to a shootout after the five minute four-on-four, the two teams squared off in the Varsity Blues’ first ever three-on-three overtime period. However, the Blues didn’t get to enjoy it for very long. Rookie Mathew Campagna quickly took an interference penalty, and despite fearless penalty killing by captain Andrew Doyle, the Mustangs were able to score the game-winning goal on a rebound and complete the comeback.

The loss continues a trend of offensive inconsistency for the Blues, reflected by their mediocre 2-2-1 record this season. While the Blues more than kept pace with the ninth ranked CIS Mustangs, the Blues are going to have to focus on playing with discipline, and tightening up, when down a man.

The Blues return to Varsity Arena on November 6 when they take on the University of Waterloo.

U of T wins silver at international science competition

iGEM placed at the Boston jamboree for bioremediation project

U of T wins silver at international science competition

U of T’s iGEM team has won silver at the international iGEM jamboree in Boston, MA.

The team’s project focused on bioremediation of tailing ponds in Alberta via characterized bacteria plasmids that would degrade a key toxic compound found in waste water.

Prior to the fall jamboree, iGEM successfully received 5000€ for their proposal submission to SYNENERGENE, a European program that supports responsible research and innovation in synthetic biology.

The project involved collaboration with Alberta communities, as well as TU Delft — a university from the Netherlands — on the Application and Techno-Moral Scenarios. They also worked with SiREM Guelph to study the “ins and outs of the bioremediation industry and commercializations of bioremediation products.”

Dawood Cheema, a physics and mathematics specialist, helped build the bioreactor and explained that the working prototype was presented alongside their poster at the jamboree.

“One of the criteria for winning gold was [having] a wiki [page],” said Pavel Shmatnik, one of the team’s leads.

The team appealed for gold but were told that their penalty for not having a running Wikipedia page outlining the details of their presentation was regrettably the reason for their loss of first place.

“We created a viable bioplasmid, but there were a lot of set back[s] so we did not have time to characterize them,” said team member Joanna Dowdell. “We ended up presenting working software and showed this to the communities, and explained that we couldn’t characterize [the bio plasmid],” she added.

The policy and practice team also received the award for best application design, and were asked to present on separate occasions about their design at the Jamboree. Prior to the competition, iGEM also presented at the Keepers of Water conference, in the presence of First Nations groups, in Alberta. The iGEM team members were asked to be part of the Keepers of Water national board committee.

The iGEM 2015 team members came from a whole variety of undergraduate programs, portraying how he project truly endorses collaboration from all scientific fields.

“Personally my background is from sociology, this was a massive learning experience for me, trying to apply my knowledge which was completely different” said Shmatnik

“iGEM really helped me with my lab skills, being a first year going into the project and now a second year coming out, my labs [now] make more sense and it’s much easier” added Christine Byrd, who studies human and molecular biology.

iGEM is looking to put together a team for next competition, and will soon look to new undergraduates for proposals for this year’s projects. Their first recruitment event is happening this Friday, October 30 from 5 pm to 8 pm in room WE54G in New College.

Correction (October 29, 2015): This article has been updated to correct inaccurate wording.

CSSU’s first Hack Night an instant success

Student organized hacking event bags Google sponsorship, brings together a legion of participants from all over Canada

CSSU’s first Hack Night an instant success

“[We expected] 50 people if we were lucky,” said Computer Science Student Union (CSSU) vice president Ivan Zhang regarding the turnout of the first meeting of ‘Hack Night.’

After just six days of promotion, over 400 people signed up.

Hack Night is a brand-new event organized by the CSSU, which is intended to be a mini-hackathon bringing together ‘code-cubs’ and ‘code-ninjas’ for a night of coding, learning, and innovation.

Their first official meeting was held earlier this month.

“In terms of planning, we were not expecting those numbers,” said Zhang, “…we realized our budget was not going to work for this scale, even with the money we received from our generous sponsor, Google.”

“If even a quarter of the people who RSVP’d or signed up show up, we were screwed. An hour before the event we finally made the call to reach [out to] the department [of Computer Science] for financial aid and we were very grateful with how quickly they were able to accommodate […] our requests, and we were able to feed everyone,” he added.

Despite being thrown the unexpected budgetary curveball, the CSSU managed the event seamlessly. Large rooms in Bahen were packed with coders working on their individual projects while mentors were at hand to provide insight and help where needed.

“One of the coolest things I saw a hacker do was make an AI… play Tinder and try to deceive unsuspecting men into dates,” said Zhang.

“Although the morals behind this project is questionable, I’m still blown away with what was accomplished in mere hours.” Another impressive accomplishment was a web strategy game that pitted white blood cells against viruses within the human body.

Part of the Hack Night experience was an informative tech talk, delivered by Arseniy V. Ivanov, a formely lead developer at 500px and current computer science student. In his third year at U of T he joined 500px (pronounced 500 pixels) — an online Canadian photographic community with six million registered users — where he remained for three years as lead developer, building robust systems and solving problems at scale.

As Hack Night will be a monthly event from now on, Zhang has a vivid image of how he wants to see it evolve.

“My vision for hack nights is for it to become a tradition in the downtown core community for students who are interested in code to come together and collaborate. Not only will it be for just U of T students, but for all students from neighboring schools to come and collaborate with each other. This time we had students from high schools from North York to all the way up in York Region. We also had a few students from McGill, Ryerson, Waterloo, UOIT, and York. One of the focuses we are working on for our next iteration is to make it more open to non-tech students who want to learn code. We are getting feedback from attendees and our team is looking into the best method to make this possible.”

The next Hack Night event is planned for October 30 from 4:00 to 8:00 p.m.

Researchers find you might be sleeping too much

New findings from sleep experts say that the eight hour night might be overkill

Researchers find you might be sleeping too much

Sleep, sleep, sleep. For many of us, getting enough of it can seem like an impossible task. Between studying for midterms and trying to cope with overwhelming amounts of readings, sleep is something that students never seem to have enough of.

We all know that we need at least eight hours of sleep, but how many of us actually meet that requirement?

Before you despair, however, consider the following: many people in prehistoric times, before smartphones and homework were even invented, also slept less than eight hours.

Many people in prehistoric times, before smartphones and homework were even invented, also slept less than eight hours.

In fact, new research conducted on the sleep patterns of people in non-industrialized areas, revealed that people in these communities got on average, 6.4 hours of sleep.

Not only is this about the same amount of sleep that people leading a busy urban lifestyle get, but the number also falls beneath the recommended eight hours.

The research was conducted by observing members of Bolivia’s Tsimane, who lead lifestyles of hunting, and live in houses made of grass and mud.

Members of the Tsimane do not have artificial lighting or climate control. After dark, they eat, chat, weave and sometimes hunt -— taking this time to connect and socialize with family and friends. The research revealed that they would fall asleep, on average,  three and a half hours after sunset, and wake up at sunrise. In fact, among them, the late risers were the ones that got up just an hour after sunrise.

Other research has found similar results. People who live in areas without electricity tend to sleep the same amount as those who live in industrialized parts of the world. One of the primary researchers, Jerome Siegel from the University of California, stated that “seeing the same pattern in [makers] groups separated by thousands of miles on two continents [makes] it pretty clear that this is the natural pattern.”

The major factor contributing to this natural sleep pattern are temperature and light control. Having the right temperature when sleeping and allowing the right amount of light makes our body more relaxed and keeps our mind better rested.

Siegel said that we would benefit more from recreating ancient conditions of light and warmth. The study also found that the sleep patterns changed in winter and summer, and so did the nap times. This suggests that mimicking aspects of the natural environment can help regulate a natural sleep pattern.

Is technology to blame then? Apparently, yes. The study found that subjects that were on some sort of electronic device took longer to fall asleep then those who slept while reading a book. The subjects who spent more time on their devices were also found to be groggier in the morning.

So, how does all of this relate to the modern-day? Well, to start with, it implies that although, we as students may not get the suggested eight hours of sleep, we can do certain things to better regualte our sleep patterns.

Professor Judith Anderson of the Department of Psychology shared some tips. She advised students to find a sleeping routine and start it about an hour before bedtime. You can help make your sleep more efficient before you even go to bed by engaging in calming activities such as relaxing, or reading a book. What is most important is to not look at any blue screens or electronics, as those keep your brain awake and stimulated.

She suggested letting the room be very dark; “your brain is able to fall into the deepest, most restful level of sleep if it is quiet and dark.”

Going to sleep and getting up at the same times every day were recommended as well, as this will allow your body to regulate its sleep cycle, It will also ensure that you are more efficient with your time because you know that everything has to be done by bedtime.

And finally, don’t hit the snooze button! This disrupts your natural sleep rhythm, and in fact, you may end up being in even deeper sleep than before the alarm was turned off.

Science Around Town

Your guide to the top science-related events this week

Science Around Town


Hosted by U of T Pre-Medical Society and Global Health Engage (Subcommittee of UTHIP), come out and learn about the challenges faced by healthcare providers in the care of children in developing countries.

Monday, October 26th

7:00 pm – 9:00pm

Health Science Building, Rm.106

155 College Street

Admission: $5 early bird ($7 at the door)


Hosted by the National Initiative for Eating Disorders (NIED), this event will discuss the existing gaps in our healthcare system when treating eating disorders. The event will feature Dr. Blake Woodside, Medical Director and Co-head of Eating Disorder Program at Toronto General Hospital, as well as Wendy Preskow, President and Founder of the NIED.

Tuesday, October 27th

11:00 am – 1:00 pm

Ontario Legislative Building,

Queens Park M7A 1A2

Admission: Free Outdoors


The Toronto Reference Library is organizing a talk featuring Dr. Anthony Scime (Faculty of Health, York University) in a discussion of obesity, body temperature, and stem cells in relation to weight loss and increased insulin sensitivity.

Thursday, October 29th

6:30 pm – 8:00 pm

789 Yonge St.,

Toronto Reference Library Elizabeth Beeton Auditorium M4W 208

Admission: Free


The Ontario Public Health Association is hosting its fifth networking event this week where students will get the opportunity to meet with leaders and peers in public health in a casual environment.

Thursday, October 29th

5:00 pm – 7:00 pm

89 Chestnut St.,

Chestnut Conference Center, 2nd floor

Admission: Free (OPHA member) / $5 for non-members

Spooky Halloween cells

The scariest non-costume is within

Spooky Halloween cells

Graveyards, haunted houses and the desolate, abandoned corridors of Robarts’ upper stacks are not the only places where spooky things are happening this October. All across U of T’s laboratories our microscopic friends are also getting in the Halloween spirit. The following images are all real and certified scary photographs taken at various research facilities by our school’s own talented microbiologists.


1) Cellular shapeshifters

Candida albicans is an infectious fungus that is even scarier in action than in appearance. This funky fungus hides out in the body, waiting for the perfect moment to strike. When it senses that your immune system is weaker than usual, it attacks and causes disease.

Pictured here are some of the different creepy shapes Candida morphs into, which allow it to hide from your immune system and invade different tissues.

Submitted by PhD student Amanda Veri and postdoctoral fellow Teresa O’Meara, Cowen lab, University of Toronto.


2) Lake of souls

The cells in this picture are familiar to neuroscientists as ‘astrocytes,’ but their resemblance to trapped spirits floating in an eery lake just can’t be ignored. This could be a neuroscientist’s take on the River Styx, or the lake in the cave where Harry Potter and Dumbeldore search for the first horcrux in The Half-Blood Prince.

Submitted by Samantha Yammine, PhD student in the van der Kooy lab, University of Toronto.


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These bloodshot branches belong to a starburst amacrine cell, a type of neuron in the eye. Starburst cells are responsible for sensing the direction of moving targets. They use these eerie branches to communicate with neighbouring cells to transmit visual information to the brain.

Submitted by Samantha Esteves, MSc student in the Lefebvre lab at the Hospital for Sick Children.


4) The mutants are spawning

This picture is of Caenorhabditis elegans, which, although both it’s name and it’s appearance may imply extraterrestrial origin, is actually a transparent roundworm. Shown here are two embryos that have mutations in a gene important for cell division.

Submitted by Abigail Mateo, PhD candidate in the Derry lab at the Hospital for Sick Children.


5) The battle of Hells Deep

These ghost-like yellow cells, whose colouring is caused by a viral infection that makes them fluorescent, are plunging head first into the fiery depths of a cellular hell made of astrocytes.

Submitted by Samantha Yammine, PhD student in the Van Der Kooy lab at the University of Toronto.


6) Radioactive spider web (Version 2)

This web of cells is made up of neurons that were born from stem cells in a dish. They form complex connections with one another both in a dish and in the brain, and they often look like irregular spider webs when visualized. Some of the cells trapped in the web were infected with a virus. 

Submitted by Samantha Yammine, PhD student in the van der Kooy lab at the University of Toronto.


7) Deep, deep dream

A representation of the confusing worlds we visit in our dreams. Created using the open source Google deep dream code, which reveals the psychedelic patterns hidden in the connections between brain cells.

Submitted by Samantha Yammine and Albi Celaj, PhD students in the van der Kooy and Roth lab (respectively) at the University of Toronto.


3) The hand that feeds

Not every cell made in a dish turns out perfectly, and this is an example of one that does not look quite as it should -— biologically speaking. It seems this cell just wanted to dress up for Halloween a little early!

Submitted by Samantha Yammine, PhD student in the van der Kooy lab, University of Toronto.

Alternative Halloween events in Toronto

A round-up of the top October 31 events

Zombie Prom

Palais Royale, 1601

Lakeshore Boulevard West.

Relive the nightmare of high school prom alongside the undead! The zombie outbreak experts from Ontario’s only Zombie Survival Camp are hosting the formal, which will include live music, multiple costume contests, and zombie makeup artists toW transform you into the boo of the ball. 

Silver Snail’s Snailoween

Andrew Richard Designs,

571 Adelaide Street East

Over $2000 in prizes, a Transformers cover-band called Cybertronic Spree, and a whole lot of geek goodness are centre stage at the Silver Snail comic book shop’s annual Halloween show. Snailoween is the perfect event for cosplayers and comic fans craving a chance to dress up after convention season. 

6th Annual “Back in the Day” Fresh Prince of Bel-Air 90’s Halloween

99 Sudbury Street

What would a listicle be without a reference to ’90s pop culture? The 6th Annual Fresh Prince of Bel-Air 90’s Halloween party pays tribute to the old school hip hop, R & B, reggae, and pop music straight out of the twenty-something year olds’ most beloved era.

Fan Fiction the Show: Harry Potter

Comedy Bar, 945 Bloor Street West

Toronto’s funniest comedians attempt to act out the most outrageous Harry Potter fan fictions they could find online at this one-of-a-kind take on the wizarding world. If you stick around after the show, the Comedy Bar will be hosting its own Halloween after party to keep the magic alive. 

A history of violence

The two authors kicked off the International Festival of Authors with a discussion on violence and literature

[dropcap]An[/dropcap] audience gathered at the Fleck Dance Theatre on Thursday, October 22 to witness the opening night of the International Festival of Authors (IFOA), the highlight of the evening was a conversation with Steven Pinker and Ken Dryden on the topic of contemporary violence and literature.

Apart from his literary career, Dryden acted as the Minister of Social Development in Canada and played for the Montreal Canadiens hockey team in the 1970s. Pinker, who has taught at prominent universities such as Harvard and MIT, dedicated his career to the study of language and the cognitive development of the human mind. Dryden’s hockey background combined with Pinker’s psychological studies gave the authors a shared familiarity with violence, explaining the reasoning behind the event, “Writing, Violence and the Human Brain.”

Pinker began the discussion by claiming that, “as much as we have the capacity of generating violence, its levels are going down.” He clarified that in the past forty years, levels of violence have decreased significantly  as the new generation became less tolerant of forms of abuse. He recognizes contemporary access to weapons of mass destruction, but argues that “you, as a twenty year old, who is inherently optimistic about the future, have the right to be.” Pinker further justified his points by referring to “the illusion of the good old days,” suggesting that society would have been degenerating if every grandparent had been right in valuing the past over the present. Dryden supported Pinker’s argument with a reference to his former hockey career, suggesting that violent confrontations during hockey games have become more regulated with stricter punishments, and knowing these punishments, players have less incentive to fight. Audience members later debated the authors’ claims about the decrease of violence during the Q&A session, referring primarily to the crime rates in urban North America during the 1970s, the 1990s and nowadays. While the authors’ claims surprised some spectators in the auditorium, others were more aware of the growing pacifism in our society.       

Later on in the conversation, Pinker and Dryden deviated from their original topic to talk about their experiences as academic writers. Pinker noted the difficulties he faced when transitioning from an academic writer to a literary author, since his primary goal was to “treat readers as intellectual peers” and not as intellectually inferior consumers. Dryden supported Pinker’s points by exemplifying his life in sports, which appeared to be less glamorous than many authors described it. Dryden noted that a successful writer “writes it assuming that many people have had these experiences,” meaning that even amateur athletes share the anxieties and exhilaration that a hockey star would. Dryden later transitioned into a brief examination of the socio-political atmosphere in Canada as he inverted the expression ‘where there’s a will, there’s a way,’ suggesting that older generations are responsible for foregrounding a favorable environment for the youth. Pinker and Dryden’s conversation culminated with a round of applause by an audience evidently pleased with the first day of an exciting week at IFOA.