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UBC biodiversity expert elected to US National Academy of Sciences

April 30, 2013

University of British Columbia zoologist Sarah Otto has been elected to the National Academy of Sciences, an 150-year-old society charged with providing independent, objective advice to American policy makers on matters related to science and technology.  The Academy announced the election of 84 new members and 21 foreign associates from 14 countries today, in recognition of their distinguished and continuing achievements in original research.

UBC earns national award for collaborative design of science class

April 30, 2013

UBC's recently launched First Year Seminar in Science -- a small class experience focused on critical thinking and communication skills -- has been awarded the 2013 Alan Blizzard Award by Canada’s Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education. The award recognizes advances made in student engagement and learning outcomes driven by teamwork and co-operation between instructors, faculty members and administrators across departments. 

BC’s distinctive tuya volcanoes reveal glacial, palaeo-climate secrets

April 30, 2013

Deposits left by the eruption of a subglacial volcano, or tuya, 1.8 million years ago could hold the secret to more accurate palaeo-glacial and climate models, according to new research by UBC geoscientists. The detailed field mapping and sampling of the partially eroded Kima' Kho tuya in northern British Columbia, Canada shows that the ancient regional ice sheet through which the volcano erupted was twice as thick as previously estimated.

Robert Shadwick to head UBC Zoology

April 22, 2013

Robert Shadwick, internationally recognized for his research in animal physiology and biomechanics, has been appointed head of the Department of Zoology at UBC. His appointment will take effect July 1, 2013. "I’m delighted to be working with Bob to continue to strengthen zoology research and biology education at UBC," said Dean Simon Peacock in announcing the appointment. "He is deeply committed to the department and will be an outstanding asset in advancing Zoology's undergraduate education, graduate training, research and outreach goals."

UBC researchers weed out ineffective biocontrol agents

April 17, 2013

‘Keep it simple’ is a good rule of thumb when designing biocontrol programs to combat weeds and invasive plants, according to a meta-analysis of studies by UBC biodiversity experts. Biocontrol programs use an invasive plant’s natural enemies (insects and pathogens) to reduce its population. Most biocontrol programs combine many different enemies – typically about three different species, but sometimes as many as 25 – with the hope that at least one will prove effective.

Tiny octopus-like microorganisms named after science fiction monsters

April 3, 2013

UBC researchers have discovered two new symbionts living in the gut of termites, and taken the unusual step of naming them after fictional monsters created by American horror author HP Lovecraft. The single-cell protists, Cthulhu macrofasciculumque and Cthylla microfasciculumque, help termites digest wood. The researchers decided to name them after monstrous cosmic entities featured in Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos as an ode to the sometimes strange and fascinating world of the microbe.

Mountain pine beetle genome decoded

March 27, 2013

The genome of the mountain pine beetle – the insect that has devastated B.C.’s lodgepole pine forests – has been decoded by researchers at the University of British Columbia and Canada’s Michael Smith Genome Sciences Centre. This is a first for the mountain pine beetle and only the second beetle genome ever sequenced. The first was the red flour beetle, a pest of stored grains. The genome is described in a study published Tuesday in the journal Genome Biology.

Planck space mission sheds light on the Universe

March 25, 2013

The Planck Space Telescope has produced the best map ever made of the most ancient light in the Universe, with help from a Canadian team led by University of British Columbia Prof. Douglas Scott and University of Toronto Prof. J. Richard Bond. Unveiled today in Paris, the first results of the 15-month mission show that the Universe is slightly older than previously thought, expanding more slowly and that there is more matter than known before. The data also revealed a portrait of the Universe when it was just 380,000 years old.

Three UBC scientists win international research grants

March 21, 2013

Three UBC Science researchers have received Human Frontier Science Program (HFSP) grants, which support collaboration among scientists working in different countries. The UBC Science winners are: Filip van Petegem, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, will share a Young Investigator Grant with:
  • Frank Bosmans, Department of Physiology, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, US

Douglas Altshuler, Zoology, will share a Program Grant with:



Three UBC Science Canada Research Chairs appointed

March 15, 2013

UBC statistician Gabriela Cohen Freue, immunologist Ken Harder and evolutionary biologist Loren Rieseberg earned support from the Canada Research Chair program, it was announced today. UBC Science's chairs are among 120 federally funded research positions awarded or renewed today. UBC boasts a total of eight appointments – five new and three renewals – valued at $4.5 million.

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