2022 Annual Desmond Morton Research Excellence Lecture


The Annual Desmond Morton Research Excellence Award recognizes outstanding achievement in research and scholarly activity by faculty members of the University of Toronto Mississauga.

This year's recipients are Professor Yuhong He, Geography, Geomatics and Environment, and Professor Claudiu Gradinaru, Chemical & Physical Sciences.  



Photos of award winners Yuhong He and Claudiu Gradinaru

Event Details

Date: Thursday, January 26, 2023
Time: 1:00 - 2:00p.m.
Location: Virtual via Zoom
Event Poster: Download Image




Speaker #1: Professor Yuhong He, Geography, Geomatics and Environment
Title: Big Remotely Sensed Data for Vegetation Mapping
Summary: Many ecosystems are experiencing increased disturbance events such as drought, flood, fire, and insect infestation, along with a wide variety of stressors that reduce ecosystem diversity, resilience and ultimately ecosystem health. My research program integrates remote sensing data into ecological research to better understand the drivers and mechanisms shaping long-term abrupt and gradual changes in vegetative ecosystems and improving conservation efforts. We have also made notable progress in linking research and real-world applications for partners in government and non-profit agencies to monitor land resource changes and track vegetation trajectories following disturbances at different spatial and temporal scales.


Speaker #2: Professor Claudiu Gradinaru, Chemical and Physical Sciences
Title: Shine on You, Crazy Molecule: What Do We Learn by Looking at (Bio)molecules one at a Time?
Summary: Proteins are the building blocks of life, and their chemical repertoire drives most biological processes.  Some proteins have stable structure but others, called intrinsically disordered proteins (IDPs), are highly flexible.  They often function as protein interaction hubs and are involved in many neurodegenerative diseases. Much less disordered than IDPs, yet highly dynamic, G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) trigger highly specific cellular responses to subtle environmental clues. They are the major target of pharmaceutical drugs.

The central theme of my research is the capture and interpretation of the molecular choreography of proteins at the single-molecule level. By their very nature, single-molecule methods remove the averaging present in all other experiments and can reveal rare, possibly pathological states. Using a home-built and versatile suite of single-molecule microscopes, we focus on IDPs and GPCRs, whose innate dynamics defines their function and pharmacology. We can accurately measure distances on the molecular scale, track individual proteins diffusing in live cells, count units in a supramolecular complex, and resolve conformational dynamics across a very broad timescale.

In my talk, I will explain the basics of detecting ultra dim light signals emitted by individual molecules and illustrate the power of the single-molecule approach to decode the structure and dynamics of proteins using examples from IDPs and GPCRs.


If you have any questions about this event, please email events.ovprutm@utoronto.ca


Past events: 

2021 Annual Desmond Morton Research Excellence Lecture - Professor Martin Revermann (event write-up)

2020 Annual Desmond Morton Research Excellence Lecture - Professor Kathi Wilson (event write-up)

2019 Annual Desmond Morton Research Excellence Lecture - Professor Tina Malti

2018 Annual Desmond Morton Research Excellence Lecture - Professor Evonne Levy

2017 Annual Desmond Morton Research Excellence Lecture - Professor Ronald Beiner (event write-up)

2015 Annual Desmond Morton Research Excellence Lecture - Professor Diana Raffman (event write-up)

2014 Annual Desmond Morton Research Excellence Lecture - Professor Konstantin Khanin (event write-up)


View the complete list of previous award winners