SOURCE: University of Calgary

University of Calgary

November 23, 2015 14:26 ET

PSA: The power of plants -- from nature's pharmacy to sustainable solutions

Afternoon of fun and scientific discovery

CALGARY, AB--(Marketwired - November 23, 2015) - The University of Calgary's Department of Biological Sciences is inviting the public to an afternoon of discovery and creativity, exploring the many ways that plants impact our lives. This family-friendly event will feature hands-on discovery sessions, where visitors of all ages can learn more about the amazing capabilities of plants, from investigating how plants are used to make medicines and chemicals like rubber, to learning their roles as environmental remediators and natural detoxifiers.

At pop-up laboratories, everyone can take part in hands-on activities like extracting DNA from strawberries, creating plant-based crafts, and peering through microscopes to learn about the research and seeing bacterial glow! Visitors will also learn how scientists analyze plant DNA, and how controlled drugs are detected at airports.

As part of the afternoon's events, Peter Facchini, professor of biochemistry, will be leading a free public talk about the science and perception of the opium poppy. Understanding the unique genetic and biochemical machinery of the opium poppy has been the focus of Facchini's research at the University of Calgary for over 20 years. He has uncovered many of the key genes that allow the plant to produce important medicines. Recently, these genes have been transferred to baker's yeast, which could one day be used in place of the plant to produce opiate drugs.

For more information, visit

What: Biological Sciences discovery sessions and public lecture.
Who: Peter Facchini, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Calgary; Department of Biological Sciences researchers and students
Where: Energy, Environment and Experiential Learning (EEEL) Building on the University of Calgary Main Campus
  Discovery Sessions will be held in the lobby. Public lecture to be held in EEEL 161.
When: Saturday, November 28, 2015
  Discovery Sessions from 2 - 5 p.m.
  Public lecture from 3 - 4 p.m.
Cost: Free

About the University of Calgary
The University of Calgary is making tremendous progress on its journey to become one of Canada's top five research universities, where research and innovative teaching go hand in hand, and where we fully engage the communities we both serve and lead. This strategy is called Eyes High, inspired by the university's Gaelic motto, which translates as 'I will lift up my eyes.'

For more information, visit Stay up to date with University of Calgary news headlines on Twitter @UCalgary. For details on faculties and how to reach experts go to our media centre at

Contact Information

  • Media Contact
    Gloria Visser-Niven
    Director, Marketing and Communications, Faculty of Science
    University of Calgary
    W: 587-896-3891