An academic researcher uses art to hide the secrets of science

At a time of growing distrust of intellectuals, a biochemist from New Brunswick believes it is the duty of scientists to keep science secret.

Originally from Bas-Cap-Pelé, Yves Brun has had a brilliant scientific career over the past 30 years.

The son of a parent’s teacher, he explains that his interest in science came from his father, who taught him physics and chemistry.

“When we were children, my father used to ask me and my brother all kinds of questions to make us think,” he recalls. For example, he asked us how clouds or rainbows are formed. It was a game and it wasn’t so important to have the right answer, it was more a way to stimulate our curiosity.

According to the researcher, the questions his father asked him awakened his desire to understand the world and made him a great reader.

Passionate about literature

In addition to devouring scientific books, Yves Brun also fell in love with literature.

A passionate high school teacher even encouraged him to study literature.

In her first semester at the Université de Moncton, she enrolled in a Diploma in Health Sciences. After one semester, he still hesitated to make the leap to literature, but chose biochemistry.

After completing his undergraduate and graduate studies at Acadie, he left for Quebec and completed his doctorate at Laval University in 1990.

After postdoctoral research at Stanford University in California, Yves Brun became a professor in the Department of Biology at Indiana University in 1993.

It wasn’t until 2018 that he returned to Canada after receiving a professorship in the Department of Microbiology, Infection and Immunology at the University of Montreal.

25 Yves Brun, who holds one of Canada’s 150 research chairs, is now interested in bacterial resistance to antibiotics. The proposed funding of $7 million over seven years under this research chair is used for the research of new antibiotics, especially to combat the phenomenon of resistance.

During his career, Yves Brun contributed to the publication of about 150 scientific articles in prestigious journals such as Nature, Science and Cell. Courtesy

Demystify science

During his career, Mr. Brun contributed to the publication of nearly 150 scientific articles in prestigious journals such as Nature, Science, and Cell.

Today, the funding he receives through his scientific chair also allows him to popularize science and share his love of science with the general public.

In particular, he collaborated with Montreal artist and researcher Günes Hélène-Isitan to create a nine-sold-out general public conference at the Society for Technological Art (SAT) in Montreal called The Poetry of Bacteria. in 2022.

Yves Brun worried that after two years of pandemics, few people wanted to hear about germs. The response to the event was such that he is now convinced that Mr. and Mrs. Scientists must do more to reach out to everyone.

The researcher, who will be appointed a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada in 2021, says the demystification of science is more important than ever, and the pandemic has been a clear demonstration of society’s lack of scientific culture.

This is one of the reasons why he is thinking of collaborating with artists again to organize a conference for the general public whose aim is to clarify the way scientific knowledge is constructed.

Yves Brun explains: “We have to demystify science and take time for it.” I like the idea of ​​using art to reach other audiences, like we do at SAT. Finally, we would like to organize a conference and explain how we arrive at a scientific consensus, how scientific knowledge is constructed and sometimes changes. During the pandemic, we can observe that sometimes when it happens, it irritates people and has an improvisational effect. It is positive that the results can change, because they are based on the data obtained by the researchers.

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