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Astronomers measure weight of galaxies, expansion of universe

July 30, 2014

Astronomers at the University of British Columbia have collaborated with international researchers to calculate the precise mass of the Milky Way and Andromeda galaxies, dispelling the notion that the two galaxies have similar masses. While it was previously thought that the two galaxies weighed the same because of their similar size and structure, researchers found that neighbouring Andromeda is about twice as heavy as the our own Milky Way.

UBC-based math research and training network awarded $6.25 million

July 23, 2014

The Pacific Institute for the Mathematical Sciences (PIMS) has received $6.25 million in renewed funding from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC). The investment will help PIMS fund its scientific, training and industrial activities throughout Western Canada, which include the support of conferences, workshops and lecture series, collaborative research groups, and host postdoctoral fellows and distinguished visitors.

Researchers chart the ecological impacts of microbial respiration in the oxygen-starved ocean

July 23, 2014

A sulfur-oxidizing bacterial group called SUP05 will play an increasingly important role in carbon and nutrient cycling in the world’s oceans as oxygen minimum zones expand, according to research published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. University of British Columbia researchers plumbed the depth of a seasonally anoxic fjord, Canada’s Saanich Inlet, to chart how microbial community metabolism changes as oxygen minimum zones form.

Mixed genes mix up the migrations of hybrid birds

July 22, 2014

Mixed genes appear to drive hybrid birds to select more difficult routes than their parent species, according to new research from University of British Columbia zoologists. "Instead of taking well-trodden paths through fertile areas, these birds choose to scale mountains and cross deserts," says UBC researcher Kira Delmore. Delmore harnessed a flock of B.C. Swainson's thrushes with tiny geolocating backpacks to map their routes as they migrated south through the U.S. to Central and South America.

Atlantic salmon show capacity to adapt to warmer waters

July 17, 2014

Populations of Atlantic salmon have a surprisingly good capacity to adjust to warmer temperatures resulting from climate change, according to scientists at UBC and the University of Oslo. The finding adds to recent UBC-supported research on heat tolerance of Pacific salmon. The new study, a collaboration between Norwegian and Canadian researchers, was recently published in Nature Communications. Funded by the Norwegian Research Council, it addressed questions around how climate change might affect salmon species distribution and abundance.

John Demco, Canadian Internet pioneer, to receive honorary alumnus award

July 16, 2014

John Demco, the "godfather" of the Canadian Internet, will receive a UBC honorary alumnus award this November for his volunteerism and foresight in conceiving the dot-ca domain. Twenty-seven years ago, Demco, then a Computing Facilities manager in UBC's Department of Computer Science, established the dot-ca domain name. Working with a team of fellow volunteers, and using UBC facilities and equipment, he oversaw and granted domain name requests by hand.

High-performance weather forecasts for the Special Olympics

July 8, 2014

Extreme weather experts are using a station perched atop a UBC building and high-performance computers to provide tailored forecasts for the Special Olympics Canada Summer Games, being hosted at UBC this week. UBC researcher Roland Stull and his team are gathering the observations from equipment housed on the roof of UBC’s Earth Sciences Building, and then piping computer-generated forecasts directly to Games organizers via a secure web page.

New satellite data like an ultrasound for baby stars

July 3, 2014

An international team of researchers have been monitoring the “heartbeats” of baby stars to test theories of how the Sun was born 4.5 billion years ago. In a paper published in Science magazine today, the team of 20 scientists describes how data from two space telescopes – the Canadian Space Agency’s MOST satellite and the French CoRoT mission – have unveiled the internal structures and ages of young stars before they’ve even emerged as full-fledged stars.

'Microbe sniffer' could point the way to next-generation bio-refining

June 30, 2014

A new biosensor invented at UBC could help optimize bio-refining processes that produce fuels, fine chemicals and advanced materials. It works by sniffing out naturally occurring bacterial networks that are genetically wired to break down wood polymer. "Nature has already invented microbial processes to degrade lignin--the tough polymer in wood and plant biomass that currently stymies industrial bio-refining," says UBC microbiologist Steven Hallam.

Roger Beckie appointed head of EOAS

June 24, 2014

Roger Beckie -- an internationally recognized groundwater hydrologist -- has been appointed head of the Department of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences. The appointment is effective July 1, 2014 for a five-year term. Beckie earned his PhD at Princeton University in 1992 and joined UBC the same year. He has taught a wide variety of lecture-, lab- and field-based geological engineering courses, and has mentored more than 100 undergraduate students, graduate students and post-doctoral scholars.

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