Science alumnus Jay Chan returns to UBC to help Science's largest ever incoming class transition to university life.
Zoology graduate Jay Chan knows all too well how overwhelming the transition to campus life can be for first-year science students at UBC.
"What they say about being a big fish in a small pond is true," says the honours physiology student who graduated last May. "At UBC, all of that changes. Everyone was a big fish in their high school, but here the pond is a lot bigger."
So Chan returned to campus this fall alongside a record 2,208 new Science undergrads--but not as a student. Now a staff member with UBC Science's Student Development Office, Chan is overseeing UBC's 2009 Conference for Learning and Academic Student Success (CLASS)--a program he helped spearhead as a student.
During his undergrad, Chan witnessed fellow students struggling to make the shift from high school to university. Their study skills couldn't keep up to the university pace, and many had difficulty managing their time. Resources were available, but they were fragmented, and often students didn't know where to look for help.
Chan and a few of his classmates launched Get Learn't, a conference that connected students who were struggling with academic resources. Get Learn't met with such success in its first year that students from the faculties of Arts and Engineering were eager to participate. It evolved into CLASS, a day-long conference consisting of workshops, presentations, and a resource fair for students campus wide.
"It's not just about study skills," notes Chan. "It's about making the most out of your time at UBC, getting involved in clubs and activities, meeting people. CLASS can help you learn how to balance it all."
In October, CLASS kicks off Celebrate Learning, a week-long initiative aimed at highlighting and promoting student learning and development opportunities. The CLASS team is expecting around 400 students, a big jump from last year's 250.
Chan is excited to take on CLASS in a new capacity. "Peer coaching, workshops, and orientations all broadened my university experience. Now I get to share that with other students. Four years can go by in the blink of an eye. I want science students to know they can leave with more than a degree--they can leave with the experience of a lifetime."
UBC astronomers, including professor Harvey Richer, are part of the first international team to chart the unexplored outskirts of the Andromeda galaxy, a survey that has detected stars and giant structures that are almost certainly remnants of smaller galaxies gobbled up by Andromeda as part of its ongoing growth. The survey--results of which are published in Nature--is the broadest and deepest panoramic image of a galaxy ever made.
Andromeda--our closest giant neighbour and visible to the naked eye from the Northern Hemisphere--is more than two million light years from the Milky Way. The new survey spans a diameter equivalent to nearly one million light years around the galaxy.
Killam Teaching Awards
Did you have a prof whose analysis of programming algorithms or explanation of neutrino oscillation has stuck with you even after graduation? Here's your chance to say thank you. UBC Science is seeking nominations for 2009 Killam Teaching Awards, and all it takes is a letter! Deadline is October 16.
UBC Computer Science is revamping the way it introduces students to programming with CS 110, a new course designed to overcome some of the stereotypes associated with the field.
"The new course focuses on learning a simple programming language better and more quickly," says Professor Gregor Kiczales, course instructor. "Students of different academic backgrounds can more easily work with what they've learned instead of shelving it and hoping to use it one day."
By using a simplified programming environment called DrScheme, students are able to focus on program design and downplay semantic details that vary from language to language. Kizcales hopes the move will attract students turned off by the "nerds and details image of computer science" and make the course more accessible to students from physics, math, engineering, and even music.
"Computer science is a field that is having a huge impact in our world," says CS Professor Anne Condon. "To ensure that computer technologies are well designed and can have a broad positive impact on our society, students coming to computer science must manifest a greater diversity of backgrounds and skill sets."
"Many women go through first-year computer science and don't continue on," she adds. "But if a woman has an incredible experience taking a computer science course at the start of her academic career, then there's a great chance she will continue on in computer science."
Condon has high hopes for the redesigned course. "With a new focus on design and understanding problems instead of getting caught in details, this course will give them some computer science skills and concepts they can use for life-long learning."
An Amazing Co-opportunity
Is your company looking for the best and brightest Do you need an infusion of new ideas, fresh energy and the latest knowledge in the field? Consider a UBC Science co-op student. UBC Science co-op students are professional, come from a wide talent pool and are ready to join your company. Visit the Science Coop website
A gene previously associated with physical traits also dictates related behaviour in the tiny stickleback fish, according to a new study by UBC zoologists. Measuring three to 10 centimetres, stickleback fish originated in the ocean but began populating freshwater lakes and streams following the last ice age. Over the past 15,000 years, freshwater sticklebacks have lost their bony lateral plates, or 'armour,' in these new environments.
Scientists have identified a mutant form of a gene, or allele, that prohibits growth of armour and is commonly found in freshwater sticklebacks but exists in less than one per cent of their marine counterparts. Now UBC PhD candidate Rowan Barrett and colleagues from the Department of Zoology have found that the gene may also be contributing to the fish's tendency to relocate instead of adjusting to its surroundings--the first time a gene associated with this type of behaviour has been identified.
Travel in Style: UBC Sci Luggage Tags
We want your feedback on Science Connect, and have the swag to prove it: New UBC Science luggage tags. The rugged tags made out of recycled circuit boards let fellow travellers know that you're both tech-savvy and environmentally responsible!
A new DNA extraction technique developed by UBC researchers could make it much easier for forensic investigators and molecular biologists to isolate DNA or RNA in small or heavily contaminated samples. The new technique, which uses electric fields instead of chemical properties to isolate DNA, has already been tested on forensic samples provided by the RCMP, and on large-scale biological samples from the Athabasca oil sands.
"By exploiting the physical traits of DNA--electric charge, length and flexibility--we've been able to extract DNA from samples that would otherwise not produce enough clean DNA for analysis," says UBC biophysicist Professor Andre Marziali.
A higher density of blood vessels and other unique physiological features in the flight muscles of bar-headed geese allow them to do what even the most elite of human athletes struggle to accomplish--exert energy at high altitudes, according to UBC zoologists. Named for the dark stripes on the backs of their heads, bar-headed geese are native to South and Central Asia. Often bred in captivity as domestic garden birds, they migrate annually in the wild between India and the high altitude plateaus of China and Mongolia, flying over the world's highest mountains on their way.
"They fly at altitudes up to 9,000 metres," says UBC Zoology PhD student Graham Scott. "That's the equivalent of humans running a marathon at the altitudes commercial airlines fly."
Pacific Museum of the Earth Open House
Explore your planet with tours, demonstrations and hands-on activities at the 2009 PME Open House.
» October 24 and 25, 2009
Personalized Medicine: Hope or Hype?
A look at the ethical and social implications of using individual genetic information to make critical decisions about health care.
» September 29, 2009
Computer Science Distinguished Lecture Series
Doug James, Cornell University, dicusses the coming of age of physically based sound rendering.
» October 1, 2009
UBC Apple Festival
Come celebrate one of BC's favourite fruits at the Apple Festival, hosted by the UBC Botanical Garden.
» October 17 and 18, 2009
2009 UBC Alumni Awards
Meet this year's alumni achievers at UBC's 15th annual award gala.
» November 10, 2009
UBC Gains New CRC, Five Renewals
UBC Science Awarded $4.6M for Health Research
Canadian Team Performs Well at International Physics Olympiad
Two UBC Computer Scientists Elected to RSC
UBC Life Sciences Institute Names New Director
UBC SCI FACTS
1914: Construction of the University's first major edifice--the Science Building--begins. Eventually, it is renamed the UBC Chemistry Building and becomes home to the department.
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