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Alan Turing: Beyond the code-breaker

November 19, 2014

The Imitation Game, a big-budget biopic of British mathematician and computer science pioneer Alan Turing, hits Canadian theatres in December. The film profiles Turing’s work as a top-secret British code breaker during the Second World War, portraying the man who cracked Nazi Germany’s Enigma code, only to be later prosecuted for his homosexuality. While best known for his work in math and computer science, the British scientist also made fundamental contributions to mathematical biology.

Founding Google investor Cheriton donates $7.5 million to UBC computer science

November 14, 2014

UBC alumnus David Cheriton has donated $7.5 million to UBC to create a chair in computer science and a new first-year course in computational thinking. Cheriton is a professor of computer science at Stanford University, a technology investor and business mentor. In 1998, he was a founding investor in Google. "I have the deepest respect for David Cheriton, a scientist and philanthropist who supports the next generation of innovators," says UBC President Arvind Gupta. "His generosity will bolster computer science research and help UBC lead in an exciting and rapidly changing field."

UBC projects tap microbial genomics to boost sustainable bioenergy

November 14, 2014

Two new Genome BC-funded projects led by UBC researchers will harness microbial community research to help tackle sustainable development challenges in biofuel and BC shale gas development. The initiatives, led by UBC microbiologist Steven Hallam in collaboration with researchers Sean Crowe and Uli Mayer, will receive $830,000 in funding through Genome BC's User Partnership Program. The work could inform a range of issues faced by industry—including environmental monitoring, water management and site risk mitigation.

Life in Earth’s primordial sea was starved for sulfate

November 6, 2014

The Earth’s ancient oceans held much lower concentrations of sulfate—a key biological nutrient—than previously recognized, according to research published this week in Science. The findings paint a new portrait of our planet’s early biosphere and primitive marine life. Organisms require sulfur as a nutrient, and it plays a central role in regulating atmospheric chemistry and global climate.

UBC receives $26.9 million for 70 research projects

October 27, 2014

From genetic mapping to wind turbines, the University of British Columbia (UBC) has received $26.9 million toward 70 research infrastructure projects from the BC Knowledge Development Fund in 2014. “Our government invests in innovation to grow and diversify our economy,” said Minister of Technology, Innovation and Citizens’ Services Andrew Wilkinson. “Development of research and innovation into commercial opportunities leads to the jobs and investments that make the technology sector a major contributor to the provincial economy.”

Rapid test to diagnose severe sepsis

October 24, 2014

A new test, developed by University of British Columbia researchers, could help physicians predict within an hour if a patient will develop severe sepsis so they can begin treatment immediately. Sepsis, a syndrome caused by infection, leads to organ failure and is responsible for up to five million deaths annually. There are 18 million cases of sepsis worldwide every year. The discovery could cut back on the lengthy diagnostic time usually required to confirm if a patient is suffering from sepsis and increase the odds that they will respond to treatment.

Sea stars under attack

October 20, 2014

If a mysterious disease keeps spreading, we may no longer see sea stars along the seashore A year ago sea stars, commonly known as starfish, started disintegrating on the shores of Howe Sound, hit by a mysterious condition referred to as sea star wasting syndrome. The syndrome has decimated sea star colonies from British Columbia to California. UBC marine biologist Chris Harley discusses the effects of this puzzling condition, and what might be causing it. What is sea star wasting disease, and what is causing it?

UBC Science welcomes eight new Canada Research Chairs

October 20, 2014

Eight new Canada Research Chairs have been appointed and one renewed at the UBC Faculty of Science. The newly appointed researchers are helping improve stress-tolerant crops, solar electricity and tuberculosis treatments, and making big discoveries about the origins of planets and of life on Earth. With 13 new appointments and three renewals valued at $11.6 million UBC now has 186 Canada Research Chairs, the second-highest number in the country.

Loss of big predators could leave herbivores in a thorny situation

October 16, 2014

Global declines in carnivore populations could embolden plant eaters to increasingly dine on succulent vegetation, driving losses in plant and tree biodiversity, according to UBC research published today in Science. UBC zoologist Adam Ford and colleagues used GPS tracking and feeding experiments to measure how an African antelope’s (impala) fear of predators, as well as the growing patterns of thorny plants, combine to influence the landscape.

Fish moving poleward at rate of 26 kilometres per decade

October 9, 2014

Large numbers of fish will disappear from the tropics by 2050, finds a new University of Britsh Columbia study that examined the impact of climate change on fish stocks. The study identified ocean hotspots for local fish extinction but also found that changing temperatures will drive more fish into the Arctic and Antarctic waters.

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