RCIScience: Botanizing “Mars”: Learning about Earth while preparing for the Red Planet

Botanizing “Mars”
Sunday, September 29, 2019 - 2:00pm to 4:00pm

Researchers from around the world work out of the Mars Desert Research Station in Utah and the Flashline Mars Arctic Research Station on Devon Island, Nunavut, to prepare for human exploration of Mars.

In the first Science Sunday of the new season, one such researcher - Paul Sokoloff from the Canadian Museum of Nature - will share details of his work documenting the plant, lichen and algae diversity at these stations. Paul will also discuss the Mars 160 Twin Missions to the Arctic and the Utah deserts, which saw one crew travel from one extreme Martian planetary analog to another while carrying out geological, biological and psychological experiments all designed to further our understanding of Mars, how our earthbound analogs are similar (or different), and how we will get along in a cramped habitat once we get there.

About the Speaker

As a senior research assistant in the botany and a member of the Arctic Flora of Canada and Alaska project, Paul Sokoloff's work boils down to cataloguing plant biodiversity in the Arctic and beyond. On any given day, he may be in a faraway place doing field work, in the museum's herbarium studying plant specimens or in the lab analyzing DNA of Arctic plants. In the quest for science, he's had his clothes stolen in southern Labrador and flipped over a canoe full of samples in New Brunswick's Jacquet River.

Paul first came to the Canadian Museum of Nature as a master's student under the supervision of Research Scientist Lynn Gillespie (he determined that the Fernald's milkvetch is not a plant species of its own). Two days after submitting his thesis, he was on a plane bound for Victoria Island in the Western Canadian Arctic as a museum field assistant and he hasn't looked back since. Since then, Paul has embarked on five Arctic expeditions with the museum, and has recently embarked on a simulated Mars mission at the Mars Desert Research Station.

Who can attend: Everyone
Fee: Free
Registration: Eventbrite
Organized by: The Royal Canadian Institute for Science in partnership with the Canadian Museum of Nature
Location: JJR Macleod Auditorium, Medical Sciences Building, 1 King's College Circle, Toronto