ISSUE 02/2011 01 Events + Featured 02 Physicists Strike Gold 03 The 'Model Behaviour' of Nano-Structures 04 'David and Goliath' Viruses Shed Light on Jumping Genes 05 Class Connections + Kudos
UBC Science Connect
Credit: Matt Casselman, Scotch Creek spawning ground in September 2010

‘Superfish' Salmon Populations More Likely to Survive Climate Change

Populations of Fraser River sockeye salmon are so fine-tuned to their environment that changes caused by climate change could lead to the disappearance of some populations, while others may be less affected, says a new study by UBC zoologists.

UBC researchers studied eight populations of adult Fraser River sockeye and found that populations with the most difficult migrations were more athletic, displaying superior swimming ability and specialized heart adaptations. They also found that the optimal water temperature for a population matched the historical river temperatures encountered by each population on its migration routes.

“This is the first large-scale study on wild fish to show how different populations of the same species have adapted to such specific migration conditions,” says Erika Eliason, lead author of the study. “As climate change alters the conditions of the Fraser River watershed, our concern is that some populations may not be able to adapt to these changes quickly enough to survive.”

E-Natomy: How Digital Anatomy has Changed Medicine

Advances in the field of medical imaging have made it possible to look inside the human body with a precision previously unavailable without surgical exploration. Café Scientifique explores how radiology is changing medical practice.
» May 17, 2011

Greater Vancouver Regional Science Fair
Join us as 300 emerging scientists gather at UBC for the Greater Vancouver Regional Science Fair. They will present and defend their projects in Earth and Environmental Sciences, Engineering and Computing Sciences, Health Sciences, Life Sciences, and Physical and Mathematical Sciences.
» April 9, 2011

Plasma Cell Development
Christine Milcarek (University of Pittsburgh) on how plasma cell development is influenced by transcription elongation.
» April 19, 2011

"Lost Ocean" in the Alps
Helmut Weissert (ETH Switzerland) shares examples of alpine paleoceanography: ophiolites and continent ocean transitions.
» April 27, 2011

Evolution of Song
Discover the role of song in the evolution of birds and in the creation of a new species! Join David Toews at the Beaty Biodiversity Museum to learn more and participate in hands-on research in the surrounding forest.
» April 30, 2011

A Magnetic Personality: UBC Researcher Part of NASA Mercury Mission

Photo credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins/APL/Carnegie Institution of Washington

A UBC geophysicist is part of a NASA mission that is unveiling the first images of Mercury taken from the planet’s orbit, and capturing new data on the tiny planet’s crust, topography and geologic history.

Catherine Johnson, an expert in planetary magnetic and gravity fields, is part of NASA’s MESSENGER Mission’s geophysics group. Johnson, along with along with colleagues at Goddard Space Flight Lab and the Applied Physics Lab, is analyzing the initial data collected by the spacecraft’s magnetometer, which has measured Mercury’s magnetic field during 10 passes near the planet.

“A team of scientists is working away on analyzing the data from MESSENGER’s instruments, all of which are now on and returning data,” says Johnson. “My group at UBC is working with the magnetic field, altimetry, and radio science data to try to understand the structure of Mercury’s internally generated field and how it interacts with solar wind.”

“Over the next few weeks, the focus will be on collecting results from the early data as well as getting set up for a year of data collection and analysis,” says Johnson. “From what we’ve seen so far, it’s a very dynamic environment.”

Want to know more about Catherine Johnson's work on the MESSENGER mission? Listen to her on CBC's Quirks and Quarks with Bob McDonald.

Crash Course on Careers Needs Alumni Volunteers

Wanted: alumni speakers! Come back and share your job search stories. Talk to current undergrads about the path you took from graduation to getting your first job. Share your tips on what employers are looking for in a resumé and what kinds of careers are available to someone with a science degree.

Interested in participating? Please contact Kimberley Rawes.

Physicists Strike Gold in Mineral Deposit Technology

A new mineral exploration technology built on the research of UBC physicist Douglas Bryman has received $1.8 million in proof of concept funding from Western Economic Diversification.

The technology, muon geotomography, relies on the detection of cosmic ray particles deep within the earth to create three-dimensional 'pictures' of dense ore deposits.

The technology could increase the success of exploration while at the same time making it less expensive and reduce its environmental impact.

"The underground muon sensor system is able to detect and differentiate regions of high density, from which 3D images can be created of potentially valuable ore," says Bryman, the JB Warren Chair at UBC Physics and Astronomy.

Parents: Geer Up for Science Summer Camps

Registration for UBC's Geering Up summer camps is open. The week-long camps mix science and technology demonstrations, hands-on projects, design competitions and labs for children in grades 2 to 10.

Model Behaviour: UBC Researchers Can Predict Optical Properties of Nano-Structures

UBC chemists have developed a new model to predict the optical properties of non-conducting ultra-fine particles that could help inform the design of tailored nano-structures.

Aerosols and nano-particles play a key role in atmospheric processes and have become an increasingly important area of research.

Wikipedia Commons: Nanoparticles of vanadium oxide

"Engineering complex nano-structures with particular infrared responses typically involves hugely complex calculations and is a bit hit and miss," says Thomas Preston, a researcher with the UBC Department of Chemistry.

"Our solution is a relatively simple model that could help guide us in more efficiently engineering nano-materials with the properties we want, and help us understand the properties of these small particles that play an important role in so many processes."

"Our solution is a relatively simple model that could help guide us in more efficiently engineering nano-materials with the properties we want."

Parents: Sign Up your Kids for a Summer Tech Trek

Registration for UBC's Computer Science Tech Trek summer camps is open. Your kids will take computers to a whole new level with a wide range of activities intended to excite, amaze, and teach.

'David and Goliath' Viruses Shed Light on the Origin of Jumping Genes

UBC Science researchers have identified a small virus that attacks another virus more than 100 times its own size, rescuing infected zooplankton from certain death in the process. The discovery provides clues to the evolutionary origin of some jumping genes found in other organisms.

Photo credit: David Patterson

The study, by UBC marine microbiologist Curtis Suttle and PhD student Matthias Fischer, was published in Science. It describes the marine virus Mavirus and its interaction with marine zooplankton Cafeteria roenbergenesis and CroV, the world’s largest marine virus.

"It’s a microbial version of the David and Goliah story where, after infecting Cafeteria roenbergeneis, Mavirus protects it against infection by CroV, while ensuring its own survival," says Suttle.

UBC Science Likes You

Visit us on Facebook and you can like us too!

Connect with classmates, share stories and updates and discover what's new by checking out the UBC Science page on Facebook. We'll be posting news from the Faculty, as well as volunteer opportunities and event updates--and we promise never to tag you in any unflattering photos.

Jamie Reimer,
BSc '95, Biology, Ecology

Current employer and position: Associate Professor, University of the Ryukyus, Okinawa, Japan.

Favourite UBC memory? My favourite UBC memories weren't labs or lectures--I wasn't the best student--but the field trip to Bamfield Marine Station, the fourth-year field project in the Endowment Lands, and living in Place Vanier still stand out more than 15 years later.

Favourite UBC professors? Professor Dolph Schluter’s biology classes were interesting, and his group’s research on fish and their evolution made a big impact on me; I've been interested in evolution and biogeography ever since. I also took a Latin American History course that was great. I think I was the only science geek in the class! We would eat Mexican food and drink Corona while watching slides of our professor's trips at his house!

How has your education at UBC helped you get to where you are today? Studying science at UBC gave me the critical thinking tools and logical background I needed to succeed in Japan. Japan is famous for its technology and industry, but many students lack critical thinking and independent research skills. The atmosphere at UBC helped me as a researcher and as an academic advisor. Coming from a Western background, I've been able to relate to students and younger academics here. There's also a big focus on diversity and internationalization, which is really exciting.

What was the most significant thing you learned while at UBC? University is a big shift for a lot of students. The “you're an adult now” lesson was a hard one for me to learn during my first few years. Being responsible, going to classes--even though no one was taking attendance--and getting my work done without follow-up from instructors was hugely important. I try to impress the importance of that on my students in Okinawa.

Any recent celebrations or accomplishments you wish to share? I have a new house here in Okinawa, and two little daughters, which make my life away from work a joy.

Province Recognizes UBC Science Alumni for Community Service

Alia Dharamsi and June Lam, two young UBC Science alumni, have received 2011 BC Community Achievement Awards. Dharamsi was recognized for volunteer service at Canuck Place, tutoring and mentoring high school students, and developing a wellness conference for inner city youth. She also served as president of UBC's Meal Exchange program. Lam, cited for leadership, initiative, and enthusiasm, engaged in outreach work with the Faculty of Science's peer coaching team and the Let's Talk Science program, and co-chaired the 2010 UBC Student Leadership Conference. Both are among 36 recipients of the eighth annual BC Community Achievement Awards.

Alzheimer’s Research, Evolutionary Biology Garner Killam Fellowships at UBC
UBC chemist Chris Orvig and evolutionary biologist Dolph Schulter have been awarded 2011 Killam Research Fellowships, among Canada's most distinguished research awards. The funded research will focus on the preclinical discovery and testing of compounds that will slow, halt or reverse the cognitive decline associated with Alzheimer's Disease, and investigate the changes that occur during evolution in three-spined stickleback fish in British Columbia's coastal lakes.

National Honours to UBC Researchers in New Materials, Atmospheric Aerosols
UBC Science researchers investigating new materials and atmospheric aerosols, along with a former UBC graduate student studying evolutionary adaption, are among 13 recipients of Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council prizes. Rowan Barrett, who recently completed his PhD in zoology at UBC and is now conducting postdoctoral research at Harvard University, is the recipient of the 2010 NSERC Howard Alper Postdoctoral Prize. Andrea Damascelli, an associate professor of physics and astronomy, and Ruth Signorell, a professor of chemistry, are recipients of 2011 NSERC EWR Steacie Memorial Fellowships.

UBC Computer Science Professor Wins Small Business BC Award
UBC Computer Science Professor Gail Murphy and co-founder Mik Kersten's Tasktop Technologies won this year's Small Business BC "Successful You" Award for Best Employer. Tasktop provides task-focused interface technology for the computer programming industry.

» 1988

A fluid experiment designed by UBC Chemistry's Don Brooks is activated and monitored by astronaut George D. Nelson on board Space Shuttle Discovery during a five-day mission, STS-26R.

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