News, Outreach

2021 SFU Nobel Prize Lecture Series Features Dr. Andrei Frolov's Research

March 25, 2021

The 2021 SFU Nobel Prize Lecture Series Recording from February 11, 2021 is now available to watch on the SFU Science YouTube channel.

SFU Physics is proud to present two SFU Physics department members in the Lecture Series: Associate Professor Dr. Andrei Frolov (Speaker), and Associate Member Dr. Corina Andreoiu (Co-host, SFU Chemistry). 

In the Lecture Series, speakers Dr. Andrei Frolov (SFU Physics), Dr. Timothy Audas (SFU Molecular Biology and Biochemistry), and Dr. Nienke E. van Houten (SFU Health Sciences) discuss their research as it pertains to the latest discoveries:

From singularity theorems to real black holes

Black holes have enjoyed a rather remarkable journey from being somewhat of an intellectual oddity to real physical objects we can observe (there is a big one in our galaxy!). Dr. Frolov will discuss the 2020 Nobel prize that was given to Roger Penrose for his 1965 singularity theorem (pre-dating the term "black hole" itself!) and what it meant for our understanding of how black holes form. We'll then fast-forward to the present in which the gravitational pull of the black hole in the centre of our galaxy has been exquisitely measured by mapping the motion of the stars around it.

Dr. Frolov is an associate professor in SFU’s department of Physics. He has worked with the European Space Agency’s Planck mission and is now involved in experiments at the Simons Observatory in Chile.

Genetic cut and paste: a revolutionary tool for correcting mutations

The 2020 Nobel Prize in Chemistry was given to two scientists who developed a powerful tool capable of editing the genome of any living organism on Earth. With the CRISPR system, researchers will gain a better understanding of basic biological events which could eventually result in the development of new treatments for common diseases. Dr. Audas will discuss the discovery, refinement, and ethical considerations that come with this exciting new technology.

Dr. Timothy Audas was recruited to Simon Fraser University in 2016, as a Canada Research Chair and an assistant professor in the department of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry. His research focuses on protein miss-folding events that have been associated with common neurological disorders, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.

Needle in a haystack: molecular luck and the discovery of hepatitis C virus

For decades, receiving a blood transfusion came with the risk of acquiring a deadly unidentified infection that caused cirrhosis or liver cancer. The 2020 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was jointly award to Harvey J. Alter, Michael Houghton and Charles M. Rice for the discovery of the Hepatitits C virus. The discovery process required exceptional persistence and the development of techniques that could identify tiny viral components in a relatively huge pool of blood; essentially finding a needle in a molecular haystack. This talk will describe three major discoveries and how they led to safer blood supplies and treatments.

Dr. Nienke E. van Houten has a research background in immunology and anti-viral vaccine design. She is Director of Undergraduate Programs and a Senior Lecturer in the Faculty of Health Sciences at Simon Fraser University. She teaches human biology and infectious diseases, and conducts research on improving student reading of scientific articles.

The Lecture Series is hosted by award winning broadcaster, Stuart McNish, and SFU Physics Associate Member Dr. Corina Andreoiu (SFU Chemistry).