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Faculty: In Their Own Words – Dr. Rachel Krause

Dr. Rachel Krause, Assistant Professor of Biology, has taught at CMU since 2015.

What are you teaching right now that you’re most excited about?

A first-year course called The Evolutionary and Ecological Revolution. Part of the course is based in the Assiniboine Forest. We had a field trip out there with naturalists from the city, and now students are spending the whole semester in the forest, thinking about it and learning about it individually. I spend a lot of time in the forest because I want to know what’s going on there, too. I love that going to the forest is part of my curriculum.

What are you researching and writing?

I’m finishing a project in Panama on food security and child growth. I also have an ongoing collaboration in Panama on wildlife parasitology and human health, and I recently started working with a research scientist with fisheries and oceans here in Manitoba, working on the Carmine shiner, which is a threatened species in the province. It’s a little, tiny fish that is found in a few rivers here. We’re doing a study of parasites in the fish, and also looking at how parasite infection influences metabolic rate and sensitivity to temperature changes, kind of with climate change in mind.

What you are reading for enjoyment?

During the school year, I tend to just read fun things, so I’m reading a P.D. James murder mystery right now. Something with “Murder” or “Blood” in the title—I don’t remember. (laughs)

Where or how do students give you hope?

They care. Many of them are really invested in connecting the things they’re studying to the other parts of their lives. To me, the things that I teach matter, so to see students pick up on that and try to work it into how they live their lives is really rewarding for me.

Do you have any interesting projects underway in the broader community or church?

I’m part of a project spearheaded by Jobb Arnold, Assistant Professor of Conflict Resolution Studies at Menno Simons College. This project brings together youth from a couple of Winnipeg high schools that have a lot of Indigenous and newcomer youth. The youth learn about climate change, but really, the intention is to build community, and build connections and relationships. Jobb teaches conflict resolution, so he’s all about building resilient communities in the face of something like climate change. I went along with them on a field trip to Shoal Lake 40 to talk about water stewardship. It’s been a lot of fun to be a part of that, and to use my expertise as an ecologist to help facilitate a part of this larger network of learning for these youth.

What saying or motto inspires you?

A few years ago, I heard a sermon and the speaker made a comment about how it’s OK for us to be imperfect, because that gives people around us the permission to be imperfect. I’m trying to embrace that as part of my mentorship to students. For them to see me as imperfect gives them permission to be themselves and not have to be perfect, either.

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Events News Releases

CMU welcomes renowned climate change expert as Scientist in Residence

Dr. Katharine Hayhoe set to speak about science in a ‘post-truth’ world

Canadian Mennonite University is pleased to announce it will host acclaimed atmospheric scientist Dr. Katharine Hayhoe as its 2017 Scientist in Residence.

Katharine Hayhoe
Dr. Katherine Hayhoe
Photo: Ashley Rodgers, Texas Tech University

Hayhoe is a professor at Texas Tech University and the director of its Climate Science Center. In 2014, TIME magazine listed her as one of the 100 most influential people in the world.

Hayhoe will appear on campus January 30−February 1 to share her insights, observations, experience, and personal reflections in a number of speaking events open to the public.

As a means to minimize carbon emissions related to these speaking events on the topic of climate change, Hayhoe’s appearances will be via two-way video conference technology.

CMU is looking forward to hosting Hayhoe, says Dr. Tim Rogalsky, Associate Professor of Mathematics and Chair of the Science and Faith Advisory Committee.

“Katharine is a renowned researcher with more than 120 peer-reviewed publications in the top journals in her field,” Rogalsky says. “More than that, she’s a fantastic communicator with a remarkable ability to talk about the connections between science and faith.”

Dr. Hayhoe’s confirmed speaking engagements are as follows:

A student forum titled, “Science in a Post-Truth World: A Climate Scientist’s Perspective,” on Monday, January 30 from 11:30 AM to 12:00 PM in the CMU Chapel (600 Shaftesbury Blvd.).

 2017_01.SIR.poster.finalproof.wifi[1]A chapel titled “Listening to God’s Creation – A Faith Story,” on Tuesday, January 31 from 11:30 AM to 12:00 PM in the CMU Chapel.

A lecture on Wednesday, February 1 at 7:00 PM in Marpeck Commons (2299 Grant Ave). The lecture is titled, “Talking Climate: Why Facts Are Not Enough.”

For the first time ever, all of these presentations will be streamed live on YouTube, allowing anyone from anywhere in the world to watch and participate in the discussion. It’s an exciting aspect of this year’s events, Rogalsky says.

“It really allows us to involve people from off campus in ways we haven’t in the past,” he says.

Hayhoe says she is looking forward to her time as Scientist in Residence because it will give her the opportunity to talk about both science and faith in the same breath.

“So often the two are completely separated in our society and even in our Christian communities,” she says. “The reality, though, is that if we truly believe that God created this amazing universe that we live in, then what is science, other than trying to figure out what He was thinking when He created it?”

While Hayhoe has been named one of Foreign Policy’s 100 Leading Global Thinkers, as well as one of POLITICO’s 50 thinkers, doers, and visionaries transforming American politics, she may be best-known to many people because of how she’s bridging the broad, deep gap between scientists and Christians—work she does in part because she’s a Christian herself.

Together with her husband Andrew Farley, a professor of applied linguistics, pastor of Church without Religion, and best-selling author, Katharine wrote A Climate for Change: Global Warming Facts for Faith-Based Decisions, a book that untangles the complex science and tackles many long-held misconceptions about global warming. 

Her work as a climate change evangelist has been featured on the Emmy award-winning documentary series Years of Living Dangerously and The Secret Life of Scientists and Engineers. In 2012, she was named by Christianity Today as one of their “50 Women to Watch.”

Hayhoe has a BSc in Physics from the University of Toronto and an MS and PhD in Atmospheric Science from the University of Illinois. Hayhoe is currently serving as lead author for the upcoming Fourth U.S. National Climate Assessment and producing her new PBS Digital Studios short series, Global Weirding: Climate, Politics and Religion.

“My hope is that people walk away from these events with a better understanding of climate change and the role they can play in caring for our planet,” says Rogalsky.

All of the Scientist in Residence events are free and open to the public. For more information, visit cmu.ca/sir.

About CMU
A Christian university in the Anabaptist tradition, CMU’s Shaftesbury campus offers undergraduate degrees in arts, business, humanities, music, sciences, and social sciences, as well as graduate degrees in theology, ministry, peacebuilding and collaborative development, and an MBA. CMU has over 800 full-time equivalent students, including those enrolled in degree programs at the Shaftesbury and Menno Simons College campuses and in its Outtatown certificate program.

For information about CMU visit www.cmu.ca.

For additional information, please contact:
Kevin Kilbrei, Director of Communications & Marketing
kkilbrei@cmu.ca; 204.487.3300 Ext. 621
Canadian Mennonite University
500 Shaftesbury Blvd., Winnipeg, MB  R3P 2N2

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Articles Faculty Profiles

Faculty: In Their Own Words – Dr. John Brubacher

Dr. John Brubacher, Assistant Professor of Biology, has worked at CMU since 2008.

JB01

What do you love about your work here?

One of the things I appreciate is that at CMU, we have our four commitments: Educate for Peace – Justice; Learn through Thinking and Doing; Welcome Generous Hospitality… Radical Dialogue; and Model Invitational Community. To work at a place that’s seriously trying to make those sorts of things the undergirding aspect of an education is exciting.

What are you excited about teaching in the coming school year?

This winter I’m teaching a course called The Genetic Revolution. I’ll guide students through a series of the greatest experiments in the history of genetics. I’m excited because I’ll be teaching it in historical progression, with the idea being that it will help give students some insights into not just what we know about genes and how they work in organisms, but how we figured it out.

What are you researching and writing right now?

I’m researching little flatworms that are called planarians. You can take one and chop it into 100 pieces, and each piece can regenerate and remodel itself to form an intact worm. That allows us to start asking all sorts of questions about how these flatworms – and animals generally – develop and heal. I’m working with colleagues at the Morgridge Institute for Research in Wisconsin, and I’m helping them with a micro anatomical study of the worms to understand how the cells are arranged in a normal worm, and then how they behave when you cut a piece off the worm. The cells need to migrate around – they need to differentiate and specialize to become different types of cells, and we still have a lot to learn about the basics of cell behaviour in that process.

What are you reading for enjoyment?

I like a little mindless mystery every now and then, so I picked up a commemorative set of four famous mysteries by Agatha Christie featuring one of her most famous characters, the Belgian detective Hercule Poirot. I just started Murder on the Orient Express. But these days, I’m mostly reading for school and watching the Olympics.

Where or how do students give you hope?

There’s a sense of generosity to our students that gives me hope. One thing that exemplifies what I’m thinking of is that every November, students celebrate Tuition Freedom Day, which marks the end of the fiscal year paid for by student tuition, and the beginning of the year made possible by grants and donations from the Manitoba government, churches, and individual donors. Students host a big festival to celebrate the importance of donor and government funding just to keep this place operational. That’s really powerful.

What saying or motto inspires you?

For my parents’ 25th wedding anniversary, an aunt of mine cross-stitched them a wall hanging of Micah 6:8: “What does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” I grew up with that on the wall and that’s always been one of those things to aim for.

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Articles Faculty Profiles

Faculty: In Their Own Words – Dr. Candice Viddal

Dr. Candice Viddal, Assistant Professor of Chemistry and Physics, has taught at CMU since 2010.

What did you teach this past year that most excited you?

I began teaching a sequence of courses in biochemistry. Biochemistry is essentially a course about the chemical reactions that underlie the way that biological organisms work. I find it very fascinating. In particular, I really enjoy learning about proteins. Proteins are essentially the workhorses of the cell. They do all kinds of different things and each protein has its own task. In the last 50 years, there have been so many advances in our knowledge of what specific proteins look like in terms of their three dimensional structure. I can often find in the literature new stories, new contemporary findings, and new discoveries to share with students in the class.

04 - Candice Viddal (May 2016)What are you researching and writing right now?

I study protein dynamics with computer modeling. This means that I track the motions of the tens of thousands of atoms that compose a protein as a way of trying to understand how it performs its function. When proteins do their job, they have to jiggle around. They’re generally very, very dynamic. One of my particular interests is in tracking the energy flow. That is, if an event happens in a protein, I’m interested in knowing how the information of that event, like the binding of a chemical, transmits throughout the protein so that the rest of the protein responds to it.

What are you reading for enjoyment?

I’m reading Stone’s Fall by Iain Pears. It’s a historical mystery novel about the rise and fall of a wealthy man named John Stone around World War I. The story has a very interesting structure: three different people in three different locations at three different times tell it. What I find particularly interesting about the book is that Iain Pears understands the human condition very well. He gets into the characters’ minds and plumbs the depths of their experience, which makes for an engaging narrative.

What do you most long for in your work?

One dream I have is for CMU to eventually offer a Bachelor of Science degree program. Another dream I have is to teach a “Big Ideas” course in science. Right now, I teach very rigorous scientific courses, and I enjoy that. But I would also love to be able to teach courses that engage with students that are not necessarily interested in the real heavy duty mechanics of the subject, but maybe are intrigued by the concepts. I’d love to teach “Science for Poets,” or something like that. It always fascinates me to think about how I would approach a course like that.

What saying or motto inspires you?

I don’t know who said it, but “A ship in the harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for.” I often think about that. It inspires me to grow daily and to live courageously. It also serves as a reminder that we can do a lot more than we imagine sometimes.

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Events News Releases

CMU to host reading by acclaimed author, university professor

David Waltner-Toews to read from The Origin of Feces

Canadian Mennonite University is pleased to host a reading by acclaimed author Dr. David Waltner-Toews.

Waltner-Toews will read from his most recent book, The Origin of Feces: What Excrement Tells Us About Evolution, Ecology, and a Sustainable Society at 4:00 PM on Saturday, May 30 in Marpeck Commons (2299 Grant Ave.). All are welcome to attend. Admission is free. <event poster>

2015-05-19 - Origin of Feces
Dr. David Walter-Toews will read from his book The Origin of Feces: What Excrement Tells Us About Evolution, Ecology, and a Sustainable Society at 4:00 PM on May 30 at CMU’s Marpeck Commons

An entertaining and enlightening exploration of why waste matters, The Origin of Feces is a cultural history that explores an often ignored subject matter and makes a compelling argument for a deeper understanding of human and animal waste.

Approaching the subject from a variety of perspectives—evolutionary, ecological, and cultural—the book shows how integral excrement is to biodiversity, agriculture, public health, food production and distribution, and global ecosystems.

Upon its release in 2013, The Origin of Feces won the silver medal at the Independent Publishers Book Awards and was shortlisted in the Canadian Science Writers Association’s Best Adult Science Book category.

John Brubacher, Assistant Professor of Biology at CMU, is looking forward to Waltner-Toews’ visit.

“David is always entertaining and thought-provoking in equal measure,” Brubacher says, adding that Waltner-Toews’ work fits in with a variety of different program areas at CMU. “He combines the humanities, sciences, and social sciences in a really delightful way.”

Based in Kitchener, ON, Waltner-Toews is a veterinarian, epidemiologist, scientist, and popular author.

He is the author or coauthor of 17 books of poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and recipes, including The Chickens Fight Back: Pandemic Panics and Deadly Diseases That Jump from Animals to People (Greystone Books, 2007) and Food, Sex and Salmonella: Why Our Food Is Making Us Sick (Greystone Books, 2008).

A University Professor Emeritus at University of Guelph, Waltner-Toews was founding president of Veterinarians Without Borders and of the Network for Ecosystem Sustainability and Health, and a founding member of Communities of Practice for Ecosystem Approaches to Health in Canada.

He is the recipient of the inaugural award for contributions to ecosystem approaches to health from The International Association for Ecology and Health.

About CMU
A Christian university in the Anabaptist tradition, CMU’s Shaftesbury campus offers undergraduate degrees in arts, business, humanities, music, sciences, and social sciences, as well as graduate degrees in theology, ministry, peacebuilding and collaborative development, and an MBA. CMU has over about 900 full-time equivalent students, including those enrolled in degree programs at the Shaftesbury and Menno Simons College campuses and in its Outtatown certificate program.

For information about CMU visit www.cmu.ca.

For additional information, please contact:
Kevin Kilbrei, Director of Communications & Marketing
kkilbrei@cmu.ca; 204.487.3300 Ext. 621
Canadian Mennonite University
500 Shaftesbury Blvd., Winnipeg, MB  R3P 2N2

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Events Lectures News Releases

CMU welcomes inaugural Scientist in Residence to campus

Research scientist Dr. Henry Janzen interested in fostering hope at events

Canadian Mennonite University is pleased to announce it will host Dr. Henry Janzen as its first-ever Scientist-in-Residence.

Janzen, a research scientist in soil biochemistry at the Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada research centre in Lethbridge, Alberta, will be on campus February 2-6 to share his insights, observations, experience, and personal reflections in a number of speaking events open to the public.

CMU is looking forward to hosting Janzen, says Dr. Tim Rogalsky, Chair of the Science and Faith Advisory Committee, which is responsible for organizing Janzen’s visit.

“He is a respected scholar in soil science, he’s a deep thinker, he’s a Christian, he’s a great storyteller, and he’s concerned about the state of the world,” says Rogalsky, Associate Professor of Mathematics at CMU. “It’s going to be great to have him here for the week.”

Janzen’s confirmed speaking engagements are as follows:

  • A student forum titled, “Footprints on a Greening Planet,” on Monday, February 2 from 11:30 AM to 12 PM in the CMU Chapel. This event will look at how humans can live more gently and creatively on the land of their grandchildren, and how people of faith can foster hope, in the face of many troubles on a rapidly-transforming planet.
  • A chapel on Tuesday, February 3 in which Janzen will share his faith story, titled, “How Can I Know the Way?” In this presentation, he will focus on the anguished exhilaration of seeking clarity from the muddiness of admitted ignorance, both in science and in matters of the spirit. The event begins at 11:30 AM in the CMU Chapel.
  • A public lecture on Wednesday, February 4 at 7 PM in Marpeck Commons. In the lecture, titled “Following Carbon Flows Through Life and Times,” Janzen will provide an overview of the carbon cycle and the way its flows connect all species in a planet-wide continuum. He will then explore some questions that emerge: questions relevant to all of us, enfolding interwoven strands of science, of ethics, and ultimately, of hope.

Janzen says that he is looking forward to interacting in an academic community that is also a community of faith.

“What’s important to me is not only what I might bring to CMU,” Janzen says. “I suspect the one who learns the most may be me.”

He adds that there is typically a lot of doom and pessimism involved when ecological challenges such as climate change, food security, and biodiversity conservation, are discussed. He will be looking for ways, during this visit, to jointly foster hope.

“This is one of the reasons I’m interested in looking at these questions in the community of CMU,” Janzen says. “I suspect there may be answers lurking there that will help us together forge a way forward that is ultimately hopeful.

The challenges that have been identified by science will not be resolved by science and technology alone, he adds.

“The way forward, I think, will be guided also by the artists – musicians, poets, essayists, and writers,” Janzen says. “It’s not to leave these problems to the technologists. We may also want to change the way we live, and maybe artists can help direct us there.”

A scientist for the past 30 years, Janzen studies how farming and other human practices affect prairie ecosystems, with emphasis on the carbon and nitrogen flows within them.

In recent years, his interests have expanded to also explore other socio-ecological issues, such as growing more food, preserving biodiversity, conserving soils, using energy wisely, seeking beauty, and fostering social harmony.

Janzen and his wife, Sandra, live on a small farm near Lethbridge. They have three adult children and attend Coaldale Mennonite Church.

For more information, visit www.cmu.ca/sir.

About CMU
A Christian university in the Anabaptist tradition, CMU’s Shaftesbury campus offers undergraduate degrees in arts, business, humanities, music, sciences and social sciences, and graduate degrees in Theology and Ministry. CMU has over 1,600 students, including those enrolled in degree programs at the Shaftesbury Campus and in its Menno Simons College and Outtatown programs.

For information about CMU, visit: www.cmu.ca.

For additional information, please contact:

Kevin Kilbrei, Director of Communications & Marketing
kkilbrei@cmu.ca; 204.487.3300 Ext. 621
Canadian Mennonite University
500 Shaftesbury Blvd., Winnipeg, MB  R3P 2N2

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Audio Faculty interviews Sunday@CMU Radio

Candice Viddal – Science and the Mysteries of God

Candice Viddal
Instructor of Physics and Chemistry
Interview Date: November 6, 2011

In this interview, Candice speaks with David Balzer – host of Sunday@CMU Radio, about how she gravitated to science as a child and how science and creation have become for her an expression of God’s existence and mystery.

Part 1

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Part 2

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For more information on Candice Viddal, click here.