Plenary Speakers

Plan now on taking part in the GAC-MAC London 2021 Joint Annual Meeting, which will take place as hybrid in-person and virtual format this fall, on November 1-5, 2021. 

GAC-MAC 2021 will be a hybrid blend, with a live virtual scientific program (Nov 1 and 3-5, 2021) along with a return to the traditional 3-day Joint Annual meeting format (Nov 3-5, 2021). The range of hybrid meeting presentation formats are given below. Join us for this new form of GAC-MAC meeting, this fall in London at Western University or online!

Looking forward, after this long break, to seeing you there!


GAC-MAC 2021 :: Plenary Speakers

Monday, November 1, 2021 – 11:20am to 12:20pm

Attrition, recruitment and retention in the Geosciences: rethinking past approaches

Hendratta Ali

Fort Hays State University

Despite decades of efforts to increase interest, attract scholars and diversify the geosciences, progress continues to be slow in the recruitment and retention of young scholars into the discipline while attrition increases. Incidentally, given the central role that the geosciences play in understanding the challenges associated with the global climate crisis, technology, and energy security, geoscience academic programs should be increasing the number of students and geoscientists at institutions and professional communities. Instead, compared to other STEM disciplines fewer students know about or aspire to select the geosciences as their primary discipline; this is true for both majority and students from historically excluded communities. As a result, several geoscience programs at universities are shutting down. Though significant opportunities for recruitment from an untapped pool exist in minoritized communities, strategies to increase enrollment and retention in the geosciences must be holistic. With the high competition for students and trainees from other STEM disciplines, new efforts need to be thoughtful and target individuals from all communities, and at all levels of academic and professional attainment. By employing intentional actionable steps to address equity and embracing a braided model for academic and professional pathways, the geoscience community can turn these trends around. This talk aims to discuss some of the approaches that should be considered in addressing the challenges in recruitment and retention of current and future geoscientists.

Biography – Hendratta Ali

Dr Hendratta Ali is Associate Professor of Geosciences at Fort Hays State University. She has a master’s in Soil Science and a post-graduate degree – Diplôme d’études approfondies – in Environmental Science, from the University of Yaoundé 1, in Cameroon. Her Ph.D. in Geology is from Oklahoma State University. Dr Ali conducts research in exploration geoscience, in aqueous and stable isotope geochemistry and hydro-geophysics; and on justice, equity, diversity and inclusion as well as geoscience education. She has received awards in recognition of her scholarship and leadership initiatives, including: Outstanding Graduate Advisor and Outstanding Undergraduate Research Mentor from Fort Hays State University; Outstanding Educator Award from the Society of Exploration Geophysicists; Inspirational Geoscience Educator award from the American Association of Petroleum Geologists; President’s Award from the Association for Women Geoscientists; Rising Star -Distinguished Alumni Award from the College of Arts and Sciences, Oklahoma State University; Presidential Citation for Geology and Society from the American Geophysical Union; and recently, the 2021 Randolph W. “Bill” and Cecile T. Bromery Award from the Geological Society of America. She served as a faculty leader of the Early Career Geoscience Faculty workshop series run by the National Association of Geoscience Teachers that helps new faculty establish their programs, in professional geoscience organizations, led a petition for societies to engage in anti-racist actions in the geosciences that has garnered more than 26,000 signatures. She is also cofounder and organizer of #BlackInGeoscienceWeek. We’ve also learned that she used to coach soccer, is an avid book reader, coffee drinker, and dancer.

Wednesday, November 3, 2021 – 11:20am to 12:20pm

Seismic hazard assessment in Canada – applying science for societal relevance

John Adams

Canadian Hazards Information Service, Natural Resources Canada

Damaging earthquakes have occurred and will inevitably occur again in Canada. Correctly estimating the hazard posed by these events is important to ensure that earthquake-resistant engineering is appropriately provided across Canada.  Modelling earthquake hazard through probabilistic seismic hazard assessments (PSHA) also provides a quantitative determination of likely losses, and so informs public policy and financial ventures that need to plan for future disasters.

The Government of Canada has been involved in earthquake monitoring for 125 years.  The results of this long-term commitment to basic data collection – including running seismographs and strong motion instruments, collecting felt information and assembling information about historical earthquakes, as well as basic research about the nature and origins of Canada’s earthquakes – have been the basis for five previous national seismic hazard maps.  

Through a review of seismic hazard assessment in Canada, this presentation will explain the how Canada’s latest PSHA model (CanadaSHM6) has been created to estimate where future large earthquakes are expected to occur, their rates, and the shaking they will cause.  Multiple disciplines in geology and geophysics – from geochronology to geodetics – assist seismological observations in these estimates. The information is quantified (together with its uncertainties), and combined in a probabilistic framework to estimate the likelihood of future shaking events. 

CanadaSHM6 incorporates recent research on the rate of great Cascadia earthquakes, includes a new potentially active fault near Victoria BC, and incorporates the latest updates of the ground motion predictions of large earthquakes. Previous models provided hazard values on a reference ground condition (firm ground) together with foundation-adjustment factors for soil or rock.  Canada SHM6 will instead provide hazard for a continuous range of site conditions, expressed in Vs30, which expands the applicability and usefulness of the results. To improve access to the full suite of values, a new and improved online seismic hazard web-tool is being developed. CanadaSHM6 is currently proposed to be the basis for seismic design values in the 2020 edition of the National Building Code of Canada, and is being used for Canada’s National Risk Assessment.

Biography – John Adams

John graduated with a PhD in Geology from New Zealand in 1978.  His 41-year career at Natural Resources Canada has involved all aspects of the earthquake program, from running field aftershock surveys to managing the program, and from creating national seismic hazard maps to participating in post-earthquake engineering reconnaissance visits.  Since 1985 John has worked to produce seismic hazard maps for the National Building Code of Canada, including those for the 2020 Code.

He became a member of the Canadian Standing Committee on Earthquake Design in 1986 and is a past member of various Canadian Standards Association committees dealing with earthquake provisions to critical structures such as nuclear power plants. 

He is involved with the regulatory assessment of seismic hazard reports for important facilities, such as nuclear power plants, LNG plants, dams, and pipelines, and recently completed an updated seismic hazard screening analysis for Canadian embassies abroad. 

John’s research interests include the seismotectonics of Canadian earthquakes, evidence for paleo-earthquakes, and the crustal stresses driving the neotectonics and geomorphology, and how these can, and can not, be used for improving seismic hazard estimates.

Thursday, November 4, 2021 – 11:20am to 12:20pm

An Evolutionary System of Mineralogy: In Search of Mineral “Natural Kinds”

Robert M. Hazen

Earth and Planets Laboratory, Carnegie Institution for Science

Minerals provide the most robust, information-rich artifacts of planetary origins and evolution. Each mineral specimen is a time capsule that preserves a record of successive chemical, physical, and ultimately biological environments. If we are to understand the 4.5-billion-year story of Earth and its neighboring planets and moons, then minerals hold the most eloquent testimony of deep time and epic change.

The universally accepted classification of minerals is provided by the rigorous protocols of the International Mineralogical Society’s Commission on New Minerals, Nomenclature and Classification (IMA-CNMNC; [1]). Each mineral species owes its identity to its unique combination of idealized end-member composition and/or chemical range, plus idealized crystal structure. In this regard, the IMA-CNMNC approach employs the minimum information (i.e., data) necessary to unambiguously define each species. To date, more than 5700 species have been approved by the IMA-CNMNC, while thousands more potential species await discovery and description [2]. However, these criteria do not lend themselves to an exploration of planetary evolution, nor are the idealizations that define IMA species equivalent to mineral “natural kinds” that represent “genuine divisions of nature” [3]. 

We have proposed, and are now detailing in a series of papers [4-8], a complementary “evolutionary system of mineralogy” that strives to define mineral natural kinds based on: (1) their positions in the evolutionary chronology of a planet, and (2) the process by which they formed (what we term “paragenetic mode”). In this system, each mineral natural kind has a distinctive temporal and paragenetic context, as manifest in its unique combination of chemical, structural, physical, and contextual attributes. The evolutionary system is thus data intensive, embracing all of a mineral’s attributes in identifying natural kinds, for example through “cluster analysis” [9,10]. 

Recent studies of all known minerals and their paragenetic modes suggest that more than 10,000 mineral natural kinds exist, many of which relate to IMA-approved species by lumping and/or splitting criteria [11,12]. Analytical and visualization methods applied to mineral data reveal striking temporal and spatial trends across the Mineral Kingdom.

[1] Hawthorne et al. (2021) Min. Mag. 85, 125; [2] Hystad et al. (2019) Math. Geosci. 51, 401; [3] Bird & Tobin (2018) Stanford Encyc. Phil.; [4] Hazen & Morrison (2020) Am. Mineral. 105, 627; [5] Morrison & Hazen (2020) Ibid. 105, 1508; [6] Hazen et al. (2021) Ibid. 106, 325; [7] Morrison & Hazen (2021) Ibid. 106, 730; [8] Hazen & Morrison (2021) Ibid. 106, in press; [9] Hazen (2019) Ibid. 104, 468; [10] Boujibar et al. (2021) Ap. J. Lett. 907, L39; [11] Hazen & Morrison (2022) Am. Mineral. 107, in press; [12] Hazen et al. (2022) Ibid., 107, in press.

Fig. 1: A bipartite network graph displays 5659 blue nodes, each representing a mineral species, linked to 57 green nodes representing different formation processes of minerals, resulting in a total of 10,556 links. Analysis of network topologies reveal dramatic temporal trends in the physical and chemical properties of minerals.

Biography – Robert M. Hazen

Robert M. Hazen, Senior Scientist at the Carnegie Institution for Science and Robinson Professor of Earth Science, Emeritus, at George Mason University, received degrees in geology from MIT and Harvard. Author of more than 450 articles and 25 books on science, history, and music, his recent book The Story of Earth (Viking-Penguin) was finalist in the Royal Society and Phi Beta Kappa science book competitions. Hazen has been recipient of numerous awards, including the 2021 IMA Medal, the 2016 Roebling Medal of the Mineralogical Society of America, and the 2012 Virginia Outstanding Faculty Award. In 2020 he was elected Foreign Member of the Russian National Academy of Sciences. The biomineral “hazenite” was named in his honor. Since 2008, Hazen and his colleagues have explored “mineral evolution” and “mineral ecology”—new approaches that exploit large and growing mineral data resources to understand the co-evolution of the geosphere and biosphere. In October 2016 Hazen retired from a 40-year career as a professional trumpeter, during which he performed with numerous ensembles including the Metropolitan Opera, Royal Ballet, and National Symphony.

Friday, November 5, 2021 – 11:20am to 12:20pm

Learning from our Grandfathers:  How Indigenous Knowledge and Western Science systems come together as we select a site for the long term management of Canada’s Used Nuclear Fuel

Sarah Hirschorn and Jessica Perritt

Nuclear Waste Management Organization

The Nuclear Waste Management Organization is responsible for implementing Adaptive Phased Management (APM), Canada’s plan for the long-term management of its used nuclear fuel.  APM has as its endpoint centralized containment and isolation of Canada’s used fuel in a deep geological repository in an area with suitable geology and an informed and willing host community in partnership with Indigenous and municipal neighbours.  Since 2002, NWMO sought opportunities to learn from Indigenous knowledge (IK) holders and in 2016, the NWMO finalized an Indigenous Knowledge Policy committing us to interweaving IK with western science into all aspects of work, including planning and decisions making processes.  Through our practice of informing project decisions through the dual lenses of western science and Indigenous Knowledge, we note reflections that help Geoscientists embrace the sophisticated system of IK drawn on millennia of wisdom and experience.  Applying Indigenous knowledge to Geoscience site characterization activities has allowed the for the expansion of thought that both knowledge systems rely on the rock (referred to as ‘Grandfathers’ within IK) to pass on the memories it has gathered over its lifetime. Together with Indigenous knowledge holders and scientists, NWMO is working to ensure that this combined knowledge contributes to our understanding of the geosphere, and its evolution over time (i.e. geosynthesis) for a particular site.  As an organization we have come to learn that applying Indigenous Knowledge to a traditionally western science focused industry has improved the quality of our understanding, and of our project.  This includes assessing worldviews and how key components of Indigenous worldview; like the practice of the Seven Grandfather Teachings; have allowed the organization to have a better understanding of what a successful partnership might look like.   We have learned important lessons about relationship, land, governance, research methods, knowledge transfer and the role for technology as we implement a project that will impact current and future generations.  Our work to date, and plans for the future, demonstrate NWMO’s commitment to contribute to what Reconciliation could look like for corporate Canada.

Biography – Jessica Perritt

Jessica Perritt is the Section Manager of Indigenous Knowledge & Reconciliation at the Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO). Jessica is member of the Chippewas of Nawash Unceded First Nation and a proud Anishnaabe-kwe (Ojibway women). She is a mother to two sons, daughter, granddaughter, wife, sister, auntie, niece and cousin.   Jessica joined the NWMO in 2008 and had been instrumental in creating the NWMO’s Indigenous Knowledge policy, Reconciliation Policy, and liaising with the Council of Elders and Youth.  Her formal education is within western science majoring in Physics and Mathematics and has also received Indigenous education from Elders and knowledge keepers throughout her life. Jessica has brought respect for Indigenous perspectives to life at the NWMO and her next big project is helping the NWMO take further steps towards its journey in reconciliation, a true example for the rest of Corporate Canada.

Biography – Sarah Hirschorn

Sarah Hirschorn is the Director of Geoscience at the Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO). In her current role, Sarah is responsible for the NWMO’s geoscientific site investigations activities, as the NWMO continues to assess the suitability of potential sites for hosting a deep geological repository. 

COVID-19 Statement

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the London 2021 Local Organizing Committee is closely following updates from regional and national authorities, and planning accordingly for this fast-evolving situation. The health, safety, and well-being of all participants is our priority consideration in our decisions, and we will provide updates on this site as needed.

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