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UBC astronomer confirms a new “Super-Earth” planet

December 18, 2014

A University of British Columbia astronomer is a key player in the discovery of a new exoplanet, out beyond our solar system. Jaymie Matthews, who doubles as a mission scientist with Canada’s first space telescope, put the technology to work to confirm the existence of a new planet 180 light years away from Earth. The newly confirmed exoplanet’s official name is HIP 116454 b. The new planet is classified a “Super-Earth”: 2.5 times the diameter of earth and 12 times its mass.

UBC chemist named top young Canadian scientist

December 15, 2014

UBC chemistry professor Mark MacLachlan has been awarded the 2014 Steacie Prize in the natural sciences, Canada’s top award for young scientists and engineers. The award recognizes MacLachlan’s outstanding research and scholarly contributions to the field of supramolecular inorganic chemistry. “I’m honoured to receive the prize – I can only surmise there were no other nominees! I owe this award to the outstanding current and past students, post-docs, and collaborators I’ve been fortunate to work with,” MacLachlan said.

Hummingbird’s hover surprisingly easy to hack

December 8, 2014

Hummingbirds’ remarkable ability to hover in place is highly contingent on the tiny bird having a completely stationary visual field, according to University of British Columbia research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. UBC zoologists Benjamin Goller and Douglas Altshuler projected moving spiral and striped patterns in front of free-flying hummingbirds attempting to feed from a stationary feeder.

National biocatalysis network looks to replace petrochemicals with green alternatives

December 1, 2014

UBC chemists are part of a new research initiative aimed at upgrading the sustainability of Canada’s industrial sector by replacing its lifeblood — petrochemicals — with green alternatives. UBC, Concordia University and the University of Toronto make up the Industrial Biocatalysis Network — a five-year, $5 million program which is part of the federal government's Strategic Network Grants.

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.

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