<h1>UBC Science Connect</h1>

A Blue Whale's Cross Country Journey to Vancouver

Blue whale in the wild: Peter Howorth

Researchers with UBC's Beaty Biodiversity Museum are working to bring Canada's first blue whale skeleton exhibit to BC.

It's no small task to transport the remains of a massive 25-metre whale from coast to coast—but scientists at UBC are working to do just that. A team from the University's new Beaty Biodiversity Museum will travel to PEI this May to prepare the skeleton of a magnificent female blue whale that beached on the coast of the province in 1987. Over the next year, they will clean, transport, prepare and install the impressive specimen in the new museum—bringing Canada's first blue whale skeleton to British Columbia. With the support of the community, the museum plans to have the stunning exhibit ready to greet visitors in time for the museum's opening in fall 2009.

The Beaty Biodiversity Museum will also be the first of its kind in Canada—a dynamic public education centre focused entirely on biodiversity featuring outreach programs, a hands-on discovery lab, and exhibits of UBC's amazing collection of more than one million natural history specimens. (Photo: (c) Peter Howorth 1994, all rights reserved).

» Watch video of the whale being unearthed (Vancouver Sun)
» Learn more about blue whales on the Beaty Museum site
» Listen to blue whale song (NOAA site)

UBC Astronomers Discover Largest Dark Matter Structures Ever Recorded

NASA image of the Bullet Cluster indicating what is believed to be dark matter (in blue). Source: NASA / CXC / CIA / STSci / Magellan / Univ. of Ariz. / ESO.

Researchers led by a UBC Science astronomer have discovered the largest structures of dark matter ever recorded, measuring 270 million light-years. "The presence of a cosmic dark matter web that extends over such large distances has never been observed," says Ludovic Van Waerbeke, assistant professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy. The international team led by Van Waerbeke measured the dark matter using a new gravitational lensing technique—the same tool Marie Curie fellow Catherine Heymans used to produce a high resolution map of dark matter earlier this year—another UBC first. Dark matter is an invisible web that makes up more than 80 per cent of the mass of the universe. (Photo: NASA)

» Read the UBC media release on the dark matter story

David Suzuki Delivers UBC Science Week Keynote

David Suzuki: David Suzuki Foundation

Internationally respected geneticist, environmentalist and broadcaster Dr David Suzuki helped kick off UBC Science Week, addressing an overflowing crowd at the event's keynote. Dr Suzuki was a full professor with the UBC Faculty of Science from 1969 until his retirement in 2001, and is now professor emeritus with UBC's Sustainable Development Research Institute. (Photo: David Suzuki Foundation)

» Video and photos from UBC Science Week

Breaking New Ground for Earth and Ocean Science Students

Proposed model of Earth Systems Science BuildingThe Faculty of Science is working with donors and industry partners to build a new home for UBC's Earth and Ocean Science students: a state-of-the-art, and not to mention roomy, Earth Systems Science Building. The department's current 30-year-old building, with only two teaching spaces, no longer meets the needs of students and researchers. The planned $75 million facility will allow UBC to continue to attract high-calibre researchers and provide a much-improved learning experience for students: a 350-seat lecture theatre, larger classrooms, modular laboratories, conference facilities and an expanded Pacific Museum of the Earth.

» Learn more about the Earth Systems Science Building

Send Us Updates and Feedback, Win a Coveted UBC Science T-shirt!

Here's your chance to win some fun prizes! We want to hear from you. Send your updates and feedback to science.connect@ubc.ca.

You could win a coveted UBC Science t-shirt, water bottle or business card holder.

Unlocking Tree Genetics Gives New Hope for Pine Beetle Defense

Researchers with UBC Science have unlocked some of the genetic secrets that enable pine and spruce trees to maintain a battery of chemical defenses against insects-including British Columbia's notorious pine beetles.

"Figuring out how these naturally occurring defenses work has important implications for the long-term sustainability and health of our forests," says Joerg Bohlmann, co-author of the new study, set to appear this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The findings may ultimately allow forest stewardship programs to reinforce a forest's inherent resistance to pests, says Bohlmann who is based at UBC's Michael Smith Laboratories and teaches in the Department of Botany.

» Read more about pine trees' natural defenses

UBC Celebrates 100 Years with New Student Award Program

To commemorate the 1908 University Act, UBC invites alumni and friends to help celebrate the accomplishments of the UBC community. An extensive array of events and initiatives will mark 2008, including a new Centenary Awards Program. Through the program, UBC hopes to establish 100 new endowed awards for students in every area of study. Since UBC uses only the income generated by the capital for the award, the program will help UBC provide financial assistance for students far into the future.

Centenary awards can be either merit-based or need-based, though we encourage donors to consider supporting students in need. To learn more about how you can establish a Centenary Award and support UBC Science, please contact Esther Jang at 604-827-4464 or esther.jang@ubc.ca.

Featured Alum

Mark Madryga

Mark Madryga (1986, Physical Geography)

Current position: Broadcast meteorologist, Global TV and CKNW Radio.

Best UBC memory: First year at UBC, after two years at Cariboo College in Kamloops. Great memories about Place Vanier Residence: hard at work hitting the books all week, then letting loose on the weekends. It was my first time away from home for an extended period. It felt great being in the big city!

Favourite professors or courses: Easy! Physical geography field course, held in the mountains in the Okanagan. It was very intense, with assignments in all components of geography and meteorology. All the geography faculty members were in attendance, which was a bonus, including professors Douw Steyn, TR Oke and Michael Bovis. Physics 421 was also great. Meteorology at its very best, with instructor Steve Nikeva.

Importance of science background: My science studies and degree from UBC have been paramount. After graduating with a concentration in meteorology, I spent 20 years as a forecaster with Environment Canada. More recently, I have moved on to broadcast meteorology in Vancouver and still employ the theory and knowledge I acquired at UBC.

Most memorable experience after graduating: Graduation from Environment Canada Training Branch in Toronto, 1987, and being posted to the Pacific Weather Centre in Vancouver. Second most memorable experience would be my first, very nervous week presenting the weather on BCTV in 1994!

Overall UBC Science experience: Outstanding. Wonderful, brilliant instructors and a terrific learning and social atmosphere. Living in residence was a great experience. Wish I could do it all again!

Class Connections


Don Lee (1960, Math and Physics) has served as a Vancouver Board of Education trustee since 2005. Late last year, Don and his wife travelled to China and Taiwan, a trip that included an invitation to speak at Luohe Medical College in Henan Province. Don also visited his hometown of Sha Dui to set up a foundation to fund an annual essay contest at the Sha Dui Overseas Chinese High School.

Stan Gray (1963, Math and Physics) went on to obtain a Master's of Mathematics from the University of Waterloo and spent the majority of his working life as a software developer and consultant in Vancouver. His exposure to Fortran programming in a numerical analysis course proved to be the beginning of his software development career. Stan's two sons and daughter are also graduates of UBC.


After five years at UBC, Nora Stevenson (Sonner) (1975, Math) completed a Master's of City Planning at the University of Manitoba. For the past decade, she has run her own real estate development consulting firm—recent projects include coffee shops at 18th and Dunbar and Broadway and Fir. Nora has one daughter in third year sciences (biology not mathematics) at the University of Victoria.


While at UBC, Heather Deal (1988, Microbiology, Immunology) studied under Dr. Julia Levy. After graduating, Heather worked at UBC Continuing Studies on Science-Environment programs for three years, and is currently a researcher with the David Suzuki Foundation. She has also been very active in municipal government—Heather is a Vancouver City Councilor and has served as a Vancouver Park Board Commissioner and Chair of the Park Board.

After working at the Toronto Stock Exchange and managing a small forestry company, William Haysom (1984, General Science) felt drawn towards a leadership position, but also wanted to use more of his science background. He moved into sales and management positions with several pharmaceutical companies, and more recently has looked for an opportunity to focus on leadership and consulting, joining Franklin Covey. "A bachelor of science is an incredible starting point to go out into the world to achieve your own great purpose."

Kelvin Mah (1986, Microbiology) looks back fondly on his undergrad years at UBC Science and recognizes the strong foundation it provided. "My bachelor of science wasn't merely a stepping stone toward a professional career in dentistry, but during those formative years my undergrad experience created a lifelong passion for learning and personal growth." Now married and running a practice in Kitsilano, Kelvin would love to reconnect with friends he met during his years at UBC.

Carl Peterson (1983, Physical Therapy)—a partner and director of High Performance Training in Vancouver—works with athletes ranging from club level to those on the world's professional tennis and ski tours. His education has given him the opportunity to work with, coach and design training programs for Olympic gold, World Championship gold and World Cup medalists, and travel with the Canadian alpine ski team. He is often consulted by local and national media, has lectured on five continents, and has published extensively.

After graduating with a master's, John Werring (1986, Zoology) worked as a corporate environmental consultant before joining the environmental conservation movement. He worked as an environmental investigator with Sierra Legal Defence Fund ("Chasing polluters and holding industries accountable for their actions.") for 15 years. John currently works for the David Suzuki Foundation in Vancouver.


After earning a BSc from UBC, Chris Bendl (1991, Microbiology) went on to complete an MBA at Queen's University. Currently with American International Assurance Company, Chris oversees the management and performance of AIG Malaysia. He has also held a variety of senior leadership positions with Alico AIG Gulf and Manulife Financial.


Sunny Leung (2000, Computer Science) worked as a software developer for two years before making a rather dramatic career shift into marketing communications. He spent three years with a full-service New York advertising agency, working on accounts with HSBC Bank Canada, MEC and Vancity. A little soul searching prompted him to look to the non-profit sector, and he jumped at an opportunity with BC Children's Hospital Foundation. "I totally enjoy what I am doing. It's the intrinsic reward and fulfillment that I am most grateful for."

After graduation, Andrea Sum (2006, Cell Biology and Genetics) travelled Europe for a month to relax and sightsee. She then went to work at Tekmira Pharmaceuticals before returning to the fold and joining UBC's University-Industry Liaison Office as an industry grants officer. "Now I spend my days learning about all the exciting research that UBC is engaged in!"

Melissa Tupper (2001, Biology) has been deeply involved with environmental not-for-profits since graduating. She is the former executive director of Northwest Wildlife Preservation Society, worked with indigenous communities developing a conservation program in Vietnam, conducted research on endangered sea turtles in Greece, worked as a wildlife educator, and has coordinated a variety of habitat restoration and stewardship initiatives. Recently, Melissa completed a MA in Environmental Education and Communications at Royal Roads, and works as a communications specialist with the World Wildlife Fund.

Recent travels? A new family addition? A promotion or career transition? Whatever it is, we'd love to hear from you. Connect by sending a brief note to: science.connect@ubc.ca. We'll make every effort to include it in our next issue.


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CSI science, cells, exoEarths and escapades: A host of science-related events are scheduled for UBC's Celebrate Research Week. A sampling is below--visit the Celebrate Research website for details and more listings.

The Search for Terra Nova
» March 8, 2008
Are we on the verge of finding distant earth-like planets? Find out how science fiction writers are peeking over the shoulders of astrophysicists for real-life settings for their stories.

Multidisciplinary Undergraduate Research Conference
» March 8, 2008
Celebrates the contributions of undergraduate scholarly research and provides an opportunity for students to present a project.

Art in the Life Sciences: A Merging of Disciplines
» March 10 to March 14, 2008
Researchers and students contribute to an exhibit of artistic works focused on the life sciences.

Cells Can Mingle and Chat
» March 11, 2008
Researchers at the Life Sciences Centre discuss how cells interact and communicate.

Most Exceptional Escapades in Science Conference
» March 12, 2008
High school students have fun and hear about adventures in research from leading UBC scientists.

Science and Intrigue: CSI at the LSI
» March 13, 2008
The Life Sciences Institute hosts crime scene investigation-themed workshops for high school students.



UBC Science Researcher Awarded $140,000 Arts Council Fellowship
Tom Beatty (Microbiology and Immunology) is one of 10 Canadian researchers awarded a 2008 Canada Council for the Arts Killam Research Fellowship.

Neutrino Researcher Awarded Sloan Fellowship
Scott Oser (Physics and Astronomy) a Canada Research Chair in Solar Neutrinos, has been awarded a 2008 Sloan Research Fellowship.

Computer Science Students off to World Championships
Students from UBC's Department of Computer Science will join 100 teams from around the world at the International Collegiate Programming Contest World Finals in Banff in early April.

EOS Students Clean Up at 2008 Mineral Exploration Roundup
Graduate students in UBC's Earth and Ocean Science department took the top three poster competition prizes at the 25th annual Roundup Conference held in Vancouver by the Association for Mineral Exploration British Columbia.

UBC Science Evolutionary Biologist Named Top Young Canadian Scientist
Sarah Otto (Zoology) has been awarded Canada's top honour for young scientists and engineers: the 2007 Steacie Prize in the natural sciences.

Volcanologist Awarded Mineralogy Association's Highest Honour
Kelly Russell (Earth and Ocean Sciences) has been awarded the Peacock Medal, the Mineralogical Association of Canada's most prestigious award.

Science Student Named 2008 Rhodes Scholar for BC
Emma Preston (Microbiology and Immunology)—a UBC science student who helped to make UBC-patented medicine more accessible in developing countries—has been named the 2008 Rhodes Scholar for British Columbia.


Warehousing and OLAP for XML
» April 17, 2008: 5:30 to 7:30 pm
This UBC Computer Science Alumni/Industry Symposium features Bill Dorfmann, Vice President of Engineering at Orbital Technologies.


1962: Inert not so inert
UBC Chemistry Professor Neil Bartlett discovers that a group of elements called inert gases—thought to incapable of reacting with other elements—are in fact not chemically inert. The discovery necessitates the revision of all existing chemistry textbooks and opens up a new area of research.

1987: Dot ca domains born
John Demco in the UBC Department of Computer Science creates the dot ca domain name, and manages the registration, updates and changes of all domains until the Canadian Internet Registry Association is established in 1998.


To learn more about the Faculty's priority projects, or for information about supporting UBC Science, contact Andre Zandstra, the Faculty's Development Director:

P: 604-822-8686
E: andre.zandstra@ubc.ca


Math for the Student Masses
Graduate students and faculty from the UBC Mathematics Department mentor Aboriginal students throughout the year at Britannia Secondary School, helping students gain confidence in the subject. If you're interested in volunteering your time for this, or any UBC Science initiative, please contact us!

E: science.connect@ubc.ca

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