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Sharks worth more in the ocean than on the menu

May 31, 2013

Sharks are worth more in the ocean than in a bowl of soup, according to researchers from the University of British Columbia. A new study, published today in Oryx – The International Journal of Conservation, shows that shark ecotourism currently generates more than US$314 million annually worldwide and is expected to more than double to US$780 million in the next 20 years.

Mega genomes of spruce species decoded

May 22, 2013

Canadian and Swedish scientists today released genome sequences of two of the most economically important forest trees in the world. Conifers supply raw materials for the Canadian forestry industry, which accounted for $23.7 billion in Canada’s economy in 2011. Gross output of the forest sector in Sweden in 2009 was $29.7 billion. At 20-30 billion base-pairs and up to 10 times larger than the human genome, the white spruce genome, published in Bioinformatics, and the Norway spruce genome, published in Nature, are also the largest genome sequence assemblies to date.

The Universe comes to Vancouver

May 22, 2013

Astronomers from across Canada and around the world converge on UBC to share the latest cosmic discoveries. What are the best candidate worlds to find a real-life ET? How are cosmologists revising the latest biography of the entire Universe – past, present and future? How do some astronomers act like astronomical versions of Indiana Jones to uncover secrets in 'stellar graveyards'? How can Canadian educators learn lessons from South African experiences linking African cultural traditions with modern astrophysics? Where will Einstein fail?

“Fish thermometer” reveals long-standing, global impact of climate change

May 15, 2013

Climate change has been impacting global fisheries for the past four decades by driving species towards cooler, deeper waters, according to University of British Columbia scientists. In a Nature study published this week, UBC researchers used temperature preferences of fish and other marine species as a sort of “thermometer” to assess effects of climate change on the world’s oceans between 1970 and 2006.

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.

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