We're revamping our site. Take the UBC Science website survey for a chance to win one of three gift cards.

Class Connections


Stay Connected with 34,000 Science Alumni

Have you accepted a new job, retired or relocated? Drop us a line about your recent accolades, professional successes, family developments or interesting world travel. It’s a fun, quick way to share stories, discoveries or innovations with fellow alumni.

Classnotes are considered for publication on the Science website, or in Connect, the UBC Science newsletter.

To submit your classnote, please contact Kim Duffell, UBC Science Alumni Relations Manager at alumni@science.ubc.ca.


CLASSNOTES ~ Spring/Summer 2013

Calling the geology crew of ’62
Many thanks to James Sadler (BSc Bacteriology, 1962) for submitting his historical UBC photographs depicting campus life in the 1960s. Not long after graduation Sadler relocated to Eastern Canada and now calls Ontario home. Retired after a 34-year stint with the federal civil service, Sadler, along with his wife Joan, enjoys travelling, gardening and keeping busy with their children and grandchildren—as well as reading and surfing the Web in quieter moments. He encourages any of his crew from the early 1960s to get back in touch.

Alum inducted into mining hall of fame
Diamond hunting pioneer Charles Fipke (BSc Geology, 1973) was inducted into the Canadian Mining Hall of Fame this January. Fipke’s work during the 1980s helped increase Canadian geologists’ understanding of the relationship between diamond deposits and the indicator minerals associated with them. After graduating from UBC, Fipke became intrigued by the potential of heavy mineral geochemistry as an exploration tool. In 1977, he opened CF Mineral Research in Kelowna, BC, and later managed a diamond exploration program for Superior Oil in Canada’s North. According to the Mining Hall of Fame: “Superior abandoned the search, but Fipke persevered, eventually succeeding with a multi-billion dollar discovery near Lac de Gras, Northwest Territories, in 1991.”

A passion for sustainable seafood and French wine
Charles Daxboeck (PhD Zoology, 1981) knows a thing or two about sustainable seafood. After leaving UBC, he relocated to Hawaii to head the Pacific Ocean Research Foundation, collaborating with local and international scientists on studies of tuna and marlin biology. A 30-year member of the scientific and statistical committee of the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council, and its chair since 2011, Daxboeck continues to apply evidence to sustainable fisheries management. He moved to French Polynesia 20 years ago to launch BioDax Consulting, and still consults on seafood safety across the region and provides socio-economic feasibility studies on local aquaculture and fisheries. When not working, Daxboeck’s 12-year-old daughter keeps him busy. He also enjoys playing badminton with his wife, spending time with family and friends, tasting fine wines and foods (not just French), skiing vacations and gardening.

High-flying business person of the year
You may know him from inflight magazines or the newspaper business pages. Congratulations to Gregg Saretsky (BSc Microbiology-Biochemistry, 1982 | MBA, 1984) for being named Alberta’s 2012 Business Person of the Year by Alberta Venture magazine. Saretsky is currently president and chief executive officer of WestJet Airlines.

A healthy role in the community
UBC Science alum and veteran registered nurse Antonia Rozario (BSc Biology, 1990 | ApSc Nursing, 1995) is grateful to all the UBC professors, mentors and friends who helped guide her 18-year career in the BC Lower Mainland. Her degree has given Rozario the opportunity to be an advocate in her community, engage with others and continually learn new things. In addition to working in the community, Rozario stays connected to her alma mater—most recently by attending UBC’s 2012 Science Undergraduate Society reunion. Her challenge to fellow SUS alum: Don’t miss the next reunion!

Applying biostatistics expertise to business
Dana Aeschliman (MSc Statistics, 2001) has left pharmaceutical consulting to enter the field of business intelligence. After working with UBC’s Michael Smith Laboratory, the Montreal Heart Institute and Pharsight Consulting Services, Aeschliman has joined Seedbox, an information technology company in Montreal. He hopes to continue discovering new challenges that can be tackled with statistics, and to continue enjoying life in Montreal with his wife Katie and daughter Daphne.

Hollywood honours blockbuster technology
Doug James (MSc Mathematics, 1997 | PhD Mathematics, 2001) took home an Oscar for technical achievement from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences this spring. James helped develop Wavelet Turbulence software, which has become the industry standard for generating realistic swirling smoke and fiery explosions for Hollywood blockbusters, including films in the Twilight franchise. James is currently a professor at Carnegie Mellon University.

Rising star in astrophysics earns US prize
The American Astronomical Society (AAS) has recognized Jason Kalirai (MSc Physics and Astronomy, 2001 | PhD Physics and Astronomy, 2004) with the 2013 Newton Lacy Pierce Prize in Astronomy. Kalirai—an expert on how stars evolve and die—works at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore as the James Webb Space Telescope deputy project scientist. The AAS recognized Kalirai for “major contributions to the field of stellar and galactic astrophysics, including establishing a fundamental relation of stellar astrophysics, the initial-final mass relation that maps the fraction of mass loss that stars experience over their lives.”

CLASSNOTES ~ Winter 2012

A totem of life-long love
Special thanks to Ian Harris (BA Chemistry, 1947) for his donation of a pristine edition of the 1945 UBC TOTEM yearbook, which originally belonged to Harris’ late wife Pamela (Biddy) White (BA Bacteriology, 1946) and her sister Leslie.
Harris warmly recalls how he and his wife met at a tea dance held in the old Brock Hall on East Mall. They discovered that they both worked on the top floor of UBC’s Science Building (now the Chemistry Building) across from what was once the main bus stop on Centre Mall (now Main Mall). Their relationship flourished and the couple was married after graduation in 1947. A move to Sarnia, Ontario, soon followed. While Biddy passed away in 2001, Harris continues to call Sarnia home and is “chugging along.”

Science alum takes new VP post at Princeton Plasma Physics
This January, AJ Stewart (Stew) Smith (BA Mathematics-Physics, 1959 | MSc Physics, 1961) assumes the newly created position of vice-president of the US Department of Energy’s Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory. Smith earned his PhD in physics from Princeton in 1966 and joined its faculty in 1967 after a post-doctoral fellowship in Germany. He chaired Princeton’s physics department from 1990 to 1998 and served as Princeton’s first Dean for Research.
Smith has worked at several US and European national laboratories over his career, collaborating for many years with UBC’s Douglas Bryman and Christopher Hearty. From 1998 to 2002, Smith led a 600-member international team—including UBC, TRIUMF and University of Victoria researchers—at Stanford University, measuring the imbalance between matter and antimatter. Smith and Bryman shared the 2011 W.H.K. Panofsky Prize in Experimental Particle Physics for work conducted at Brookhaven National Laboratory.
Smith and his wife Norma take every opportunity to have fun in New York City, just an hour away from Princeton. They also return frequently to the Pacific Northwest to hike and ski cross-country with their son Ian and his family in Seattle, and to visit their son Peter and his three little children in Florida.

Science still fits
Many thanks to Allen Wood (BSc 1964 | MSc Zoology, 1966) for his contribution of a beautifully preserved UBC Science Undergrad Society sweater. Wood is now enjoying his retirement by travelling, gardening and woodworking.

Renaissance man returns to UBC Science
Congratulations to Anton Kuipers (BSc Biology, 1977) on his appointment as associate director with the UBC Science development and alumni engagement team. Kuipers returns to UBC after holding a number of senior business development positions in industry and government, including with Leading Edge BC and BC Trade and Investment. Much of his work has focused on structuring business and trade development, and on investments in support of BC’s energy, environmental, technology and engineering industries. “UBC and the Faculty of Science have been good to me,” says Kuipers. “It’s thanks to UBC that I reached many of my professional goals. My foundation in science was critical to my career successes.” An avid jazz and Latin music fan, Kuipers is also a keen painter (oils and acrylics). He has travelled extensively to over 20 countries for work and pleasure (counting Japan, Mexico, Chile and France among his favourites). He also volunteers as a board member for an extended care and social housing facility that looks after 257 residents, many living with advanced dementia.

Dart games in the Chemistry Building
Dan Davies (BSc Chemistry, 1977) is an industrial chemist with the active oxygens group at Evonik Degussa Canada. He provides training, lab tests and onsite services for the company’s clients in Canada and the western US, and also provides consulting services around the world, including New Zealand, Vietnam and Scandinavia. Davies often visits campus for events and works with UBC’s Pulp and Paper Centre and the UBC forest industry partner FPInnovations.

Some of Davies more memorable moments at UBC include dart games in the Chemistry Building B-Block basement and beer floats at The Pit in the Student Union Building. He credits much of his success to the pragmatic thinking skills that he developed while at UBC, which continue to assist him in both his work and personal lives.

Science alum takes helm at Advanced Ed

This September John Yap (BSc Biology, 1980 | MBA 1983), who represents the provincial riding of Richmond-Steveston, was appointed Minister of Advanced Education, Innovation and Technology and the Minister Responsible for Multiculturalism.
Yap, first elected in 2005, has previously served as the Minister of State for Multiculturalism, the Minister of State for Climate Action and as chair of the government caucus. When not performing his official duties, Yap enjoys spending time with family, travelling, reading and playing the occasional game of golf.

Powerful environmental consulting
Beth Power (BSc Zoology, 1984 | MSc Zoology, 1987) is a partner with the niche environmental consulting firm Azimuth Consulting Group, which specializes in risk assessment of contaminants. After almost 25 years in consulting, Power has conducted field work in Aruba, Bali, the United Kingdom and across British Columbia. She and her husband Mark (also a UBC alum) live in Vancouver and enjoy a hectic family life with their two teenage children.


Alum nabs Steacie Fellowship
Alisdair Boraston (BSc Microbiology, 1993 | PhD Microbiology, 2000) is one of six scientists awarded a prestigious 2012 EWR Steacie Memorial Fellowship by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada. Boraston will continue his research at the University of Victoria on Streptococcus pneumoniae, one of the world’s leading causes of death from infectious disease. He will also investigate how marine microbes break down seaweed cell walls, with an eye to applications in biofuel production. “The research process is a highly creative one that requires freedom of time and freedom to think. I’m really excited about being able to devote all of my time and attention to thinking about science again.”

Biology alum volunteer takes centre stage at convocation
Now associate director, inside sales, at STEMCELL Technologies, Kim Lucas (BSc Biology, 1999) develops high-level sales and customer retention strategies. Off the clock, Lucas stays physically active by running, cycling, doing yoga or hitting the slopes with her two boys. Despite her busy schedule, she served as the UBC Science alumni representative at November’s convocation ceremonies and is eager to expand on her involvement with her alma mater.

Driving next generation leadership
Juanita Lohmeyer (BSc Computer Science, 2000) has been named an honouree by the 2012 Distinction Awards program at GTEC, Canada’s Government Technology Event and Conference. The Distinction Awards celebrate individuals who have demonstrated leadership and excellence in the management and application of information technologies. Lohmeyer is the director of enterprise services at the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia.


Passion for nutrition earns alum achievement award

Alia Dharamsi (BSc Integrated Sciences, 2010) has earned a 2012 UBC Alumni Achievement Award for Outstanding Future Alumnus. Dharamsi (see Synergy 1 | 2010) was cited for her leadership and commitment to serving vulnerable and marginalized populations.
As an undergraduate in Science, Dharamsi studied the interplay between nutrition and disease, with a focus on international development. In her final year she travelled to rural Guatemala, where she led a team of student volunteers on construction projects in collaboration with local communities, and taught oral hygiene, English, science and math to children. Now with UBC Medicine, Dharamsi is studying pediatrics and hopes to eventually work with the World Health Organization or Doctors Without Borders.
Dharamsi created the We Are 2015 educational initiative, designed to inspire a new generation of global citizens to make personal contributions towards the United Nation’s 2015 Millennium Development Goals. She also founded the UBC chapter of the Meal Exchange, and developed instruction modules to bring international health issues into the high school classroom. Dharamsi has been recognized with the BC Community Achievement Medallion and the YWCA Vancouver’s Young Women of Distinction Award.

Dog lover takes up post-doc at University of Illinois
Alyssa Shiel (PhD Oceanography, 2010) has taken up a post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Shiel will be developing tools to assess the effectiveness of remediation strategies for uranium groundwater contamination—which builds on work she began during her PhD. When she isn’t busy in the lab or writing up academic manuscripts, Shiel loves to spend time with her spouse and four dogs.

CLASSNOTES ~ Spring/Summer 2012


Exploration Geologist Explores Arty Retirement
Retired after 40 years as an exploration geologist with Imperial Oil, Canberra and Husky, Wilfred Gordon Holland (BA Geological Science, 1952) keeps busy with art classes, memberships in three art societies, food bank volunteering, and hiking and walking clubs. Holland continues to travel extensively and takes university courses to stay sharp and connected with the world.

Alum Throws Down Rail Bed Biking Gauntlet

Having biked roughly two-thirds of the 1,400-kilometre Kettle Valley railroad bed, Karl Ricker (BSc General Sciences, 1959 | MSc Geological Sciences, 1968) is a bona fide outdoor enthusiast. He challenges other geology graduates to saddle up and try the Kootenay-region Kaslo and Sandon rail beds from Retallack to Cody, then descend to New Denver and Roseberry on an old Canadian Pacific Railway route. Athleticism obviously runs in the family. Ricker’s daughter Maëlle, who won a gold medal in the snowboard cross event at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, was inducted into the British Columbia Sports Hall of Fame in 2011.


Science Alum Named President-Elect of International Council for Science
Gorden McBean (BSc Honours Physics, 1964 | PhD Physics and Oceanography, 1970), currently a professor of geography and political science at the University of Western Ontario, has been appointed president-elect of the International Council for Science. McBean’s impressive career has delved deeply into the policy realm, including appointments as an assistant deputy minister with Environment Canada, and membership on UNESCO’s High Panel on Science, Technology and Innovation for Development. In 2008, he was made a member of the Order of Canada in recognition of his contributions to the advancement of climate and atmospheric sciences in Canada, and for his leadership in national and international scientific organizations.

Keeping One Step Ahead of the Sheriff
Chris Heath (BSc Geological Sciences, 1960) dedicated the last eight years of his career to studying a widening skills gap in the geosciences. That process involved interviewing representatives from dozens of oil companies and more than 100 universities in Africa, the Middle East, Asia and Europe. The work so intrigued Heath that he decided to gather data through extensive surveys and publish the results. The research—conducted first at Edinburgh University, then at UBC, and finally out of his Vancouver home—resulted in a series of papers on the labour needs of oil and mining companies and geoscience programs. Heath applied his proficiency for research towards a more personal goal—a comprehensive family tree. He invested considerable time travelling the world exploring his own genealogy—publishing a historical connection to over 420 Heaths and 1,000 relatives dating back to the 1500s. Heath, who moved to Canada in 1955 from the United Kingdom, has also become more involved in civic affairs by sitting on local community centre committees. His personal secret to a good retirement? “Stay involved. It keeps you one step ahead of the sheriff.”


Singing the Praises of Chemistry
Bob Perkins (PhD Organic Chemistry, 1976) is enjoying pseudo-retirement in Port Alberni after 32 years teaching chemistry at Memorial University, Kwantlen University College and UBC. Having spent a career presenting university, college and high school workshops and publishing a wide range of papers on chemical education, Perkins continues to share his knowledge and passion with adult learners at ElderCollege in Port Alberni and Quest University Canada in Squamish. When he isn’t teaching, Perkins keeps busy by playing guitar, composing songs, writing poetry, gardening, reading, hiking, kayaking, and making and drinking wine. Along with his wife Clarice, Perkins dotes on their three married children, spouses-in-law and six grandchildren. He encourages other UBC Chemistry alumni to join him at the department’s May 2012 reunion.

Surveying the Post-Work Waters
After 20 years as a survey geochemist, Ray Lett (PhD Geological Sciences, 1979) officially retired from the British Columbia Geological Survey this spring. Letts doesn’t have firm plans for retirement beyond continuing on with the Survey as an emeritus geoscientist, part-time teaching at the University of Victoria, and a little kayaking in the local Victoria waters.

BC Hydro’s Weatherman
Doug McCollor (BSc Physics, 1979 | MSc Geophysics, 1982 | PhD Atmospheric Science, 2008) manages BC Hydro’s weather analysis and forecasting programs and finds predicting weather in the province rewarding and challenging. British Columbia’s mountains, coastline, proximity to land-falling Pacific storms, and propensity for arctic winter weather keeps McCollor on his toes. His forecasting team not only supports crews and equipment during windstorms, but also power generation and delivery operations across the province. McCollor, an adjunct professor at UBC, works closely with Earth and Ocean Science’s Roland Stull on forecasting projects for the energy sector. McCollor and his wife Vivian (also a UBC alum) have a busy and rewarding family life and especially enjoy travelling with their four children.


Science Alum Puts Down Deep Maritime Roots
Gavin Kernaghan (BSc Plant Biology, 1991 | MSc Botany, 1993) is an associate professor of biology at Mount Saint Vincent University in Halifax, where he directs the Atlantic Root Symbiosis Lab. He is also an adjunct professor at Saint Mary’s University and Dalhousie University.


This Isn't Astrophysics You Know!

The mentors Kristy Roloff (MSc Astronomy, 2001) encountered during her medical residency program were fascinated by her degree in astronomy. She recalls teaching the attending about the lunar orbit and the Big Bang as she worked to master caesarean section procedures. When Roloff struggled with a difficult surgery, her attending physician would tell her, “This isn't astrophysics you know!” One day, Roloff answered “I know. This is harder!” Now an attending physician in obstetrics and gynaecology at Arrowhead Regional Medical Center in southern California, she uses the same phrase to break the tension when teaching her residents. “My unique background prepared me so well. Doing an MSc at UBC taught me time organization and management skills. I learned enough about modern technology to be able to synthesize changing and advancing technologies with the art of the practice of medicine now.” Roloff cites her children—Kayden, 6, Leila, 3, and Micah three months—as her most important accomplishments. They, along with her husband Jason and a full-time career, keep her busy and fulfilled.

Kirby Enthusiasm
As a senior lecturer at the Kirby Institute for Infection and Immunity in Society at the University of New South Wales, Jason Grebely (BSc Biology and Chemistry, 2002 | PhD Pharmaceutical Therapeutics, 2007) leads an epidemiology and clinical research program in viral hepatitis. His research focuses on the epidemiology, natural history and treatment of hepatitis C virus infection among people who inject drugs. Grebely collaborates with colleagues around the world, and when he isn’t exploring new research partnerships, thoroughly enjoys life in Sydney, Australia.

Science Outreach Imagined
Back in high school, Lindsay Bradshaw (BSc Earth and Ocean Sciences, 2006) would never have imagined pursuing a degree in science. But a few earth and ocean sciences electives later, she was hooked on the versatility a science degree offers. Now with the Birch Aquarium at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego, Bradshaw gets paid to work in beautiful locations with exotic animals and educate the public on ocean conservation.

New Arrival
Natasha Freedman (BSc Earth and Ocean Sciences, 2006) is pleased to announce a new addition to the family—her son James. Freedman is taking some well-deserved time off from work as an exploration geologist with Cenovus Energy in Calgary. James is already looking into program options at UBC.

Meeting IBM’s Watson at Work
Since 2008, Homa Javahery (Diploma Computer Science, 2001) has been working with a dedicated user interface team at IBM Interactive. Recent work enabled her to interact with the IBM developers of Watson (the computer that defeated two top players on Jeopardy!) and earned her a nomination for an IBM technical award. Javahery also enjoys keeping ties with the academic community. She mentors UBC Computer Science students, providing industry insight and highlighting the more practical aspects of their education. Through her own research collaborations, she has presented papers in Austria and Berlin on human–computer interaction. In June 2011, Javahery and her husband Behzad celebrated a new addition to the family—their baby boy Daris.

Career Move Down Under
Following studies in structural geology at the University of Toronto, Matthew Williams (BSc Earth and Ocean Sciences, 2006) has relocated to Australia to take up a geologist position with the resource company BHP Billiton.

Patently Obvious Connection
Student Biotechnology Network mentor Vincent Yip (BSc Microbiology and Immunology, 2004 | LLB, 2007) is an intellectual property lawyer at McCarthy Tétrault, a position that allows him to combine science and law. His career goal is to work with life science companies to help them protect and commercialize their technologies. He is an affiliate member of the Intellectual Property Institute of Canada and chairs the Intellectual Property and Technology Law Section of the Canadian Bar Association, BC Branch. Republished courtesy of the Student Biotechnology Network.

Postcard from Pasteur Foundation Fellow
After graduation, Ellen Arena (PhD Microbiology and Immunology, 2011) has gone on to hold a distinguished Pasteur Foundation post-doctoral fellow at the Institut Pasteur in Paris, France. “The opportunity to work overseas at such a prestigious research institute wouldn’t have been possible without the training I received during my graduate studies. So many doors have been opened as a result.” Arena’s research focuses on the impact of the bacterial pathogen Shigella flexneri on adaptive immune response.

Industrious Communicator
Kelly Earle (BSc Earth and Ocean Sciences, 2010) applies the technical skills she acquired through geological field work at UBC to corporate communications in a complex industry. Instead of travelling with a map and compass, Earle travels the world as a consultant for two junior exploration companies: Altan Rio and Altan Nevada. Her role allows her to mix strategy, insight and investor relations.

Kirkland Lake Calling
Amanda Ginn (BSc Earth and Ocean Sciences, 2010) has settled in Central Canada—Kirkland Lake, Ontario, specifically—where she’s now working at Kirkland Lake Gold as an underground mine geologist.

City Living
While he misses a few of the perks associated with field work, Ryan Turna (BSc Earth and Ocean Sciences, 2010) has gladly traded in hours of high-flying helicopter surveying for a rewarding job as a geological analyst with Infomine. The Vancouver gig is closer to home, family and friends.


CLASSNOTES ~ Winter 2011

Retirement from University Life a Fiction
John Chrysochoos (PhD Physical Chemistry, 1964) owns a well-stamped passport reflecting a life in academia that included stints with Harvard, the University of Toledo and Bowling Green State in Ohio, the University of Western Ontario, and the universities of Crete and Patras. But don’t let rumours of his retirement fool you. Chrysochoos has merely switched from writing chemistry equations to writing non-fiction, with four books to his name: Beyond the Blue Ikarian Sea (2008), Elusive Dreams (2009), In Reason We Trust (2009) and Ikaria—Paradise in Peril (2010).

Alumnus Gets Back to His Roots
While a 100-acre family farm may have pulled this alumnus back to his roots, a degree in science and a legal career in the late 1970s laid the foundation for the growth of a distinguished community representative. Robert Dawson’s (BSc General Science, 1967 | LLB 1970) career in agriculture in the Okanagan has flourished: he is a lifetime member of the BC Fruit Growers’ Association, and has served on numerous boards, including the Okanagan Similkameen Co-operative Growers Association, BC Tree Fruits Limited and Sun Rype. Dawson now represents the tree fruit and grape sectors with the Investment Agriculture Foundation of BC, an industry-led not-for-profit that invests federal and provincial funds in agriculture and agri-food.


Sweet on UBC for Several Reasons
Not only has Tom Balabanov (BSc Biology, 1974) maintained a lifelong appreciation for UBC’s famous cinnamon buns, but also for his wife, whom he met on campus. The couple just celebrated their 30th wedding anniversary, have four children (the youngest also a UBC alumna) and host UBC home-stay students from other countries. A programmer with Central 1 Credit Union, Balabanov relishes lifelong learning (including continuing studies at UBC) and looks for the same trait when hiring colleagues.

Singing Emeritus
William Hsieh (BSc Mathematics and Physics, 1976 | MSc Physics, 1978 | PhD Physics and Oceanography, 1981) became a professor emeritus at UBC soon after turning 55. His relationship with UBC, aside from post-doctoral work in England and Australia, has been uninterrupted since his freshman days in 1972. Hsieh has taught in Earth and Ocean Sciences and in Physics and Astronomy, and has chaired the Atmospheric Science Program. Author of Machine Learning Methods in the Environmental Sciences (2009), an advanced graduate text that brings together his research efforts of the last two decades, Hsieh plans to expand the applications of machine learning methods from the field of artificial intelligence to oceans, the atmosphere and land surface processes. On another note, singing has been a lifelong passion, and Hsieh is working toward producing a CD of tenor songs and arias (including at least one duet with his wife Jean, a graduate of the UBC School of Music). Two years ago, he began practising Tai Chi for its health benefits, and found himself increasingly attracted to Chinese martial arts and Qigong. Hsieh also enjoys spending time with his daughters, ages 14 and 11.


Modification in Mangroves
Since graduation, Mei Sun (PhD Botany, 1986) has continued her research career at the University of California-Davis and the University of Hong Kong. She recently spent a few months as a visiting professor at Harvard and published findings (together with Eugenia Lo, currently a post-doctoral researcher at Yale) on natural hybridization in mangrove forests. Their research—published in the Public Library of Science—examines the biodiversity of mangrove ecosystems, the dynamic evolutionary consequences of hybridization and the genomic structure of hybrids and parental species.

Animal Lover Recognized
Romany Runnalls (BSc Zoology, 1987) has been recognized by the BC SPCA as the non-profit’s 2011 Philanthropist of the Year. “Romany is an outstanding example of philanthropic leadership,” says BC SPCA chief development officer Rosemary Conder. “Everything she gives, whether time or money, comes from her heart, and she inspires others to help abused and abandoned animals.” Runnalls joined the BC SPCA Kelowna Community Council last year and was recently elected to the society’s board of directors. The BC SPCA awards program honours people and animals who have made outstanding contributions to animal welfare.


New Role at Yellowhead
Charlene Higgins (MSc Zoology, 1991 | PhD Zoology, 1996) has been named Vice-President Environment, Community and First Nations Relations for Yellowhead Mining.
Ahead in the Clouds
Moe Kermani (BSc Physics, 1991 | MSc Physics, 1994 | PhD Physics, 1998) has been named Person of the Year by the BC Technology Industry Association. Kermani, former CEO of Bycast, received the award for his leadership in establishing the company’s presence in storage virtualization software for the large-scale cloud computing industry. In 2010, Bycast was acquired by NetApp, where Kermani is currently a vice-president. NetApp develops storage systems and software that help customers store and manage corporate data.

Discoveries Inside and Outside the Lab
Anthony Fejes’s (MSc Microbiology and Immunology, 2004) PhD thesis is investigating the use of computer algorithms to interpret how breast cancer operates through a cell’s DNA and RNA. “It’s absolutely incredible to gain an insight into what a cancer cell is trying to do and why it wants to do it. The next piece of the puzzle is how to use that information to help people with breast cancer.” But Fejes doesn’t just limit his discoveries to the lab. He keeps a keen eye on industry as a mentor for the Student Biotechnology Network and as a co-founder of the cross-disciplinary biotechnology company Zymeworks. Fejes blogs about bioinformatics, coding, graduate studies and a host of other topics. When he’s not working, he can be found hanging out with his family.

From Science to Sake
Adam Levine (MSc Resource Management and Environmental Studies, 2005) and his business partner have opened Electric Owl, an “izakaya-themed social club” offering Japanese tapas, live music and spectacle, cold beer and wine, sake and other treats for Vancouver’s young, creative crowd.

Sailing the Modern Seas of Piracy
Named one of the Most Creative People in Business 2011 by Fast Company, Shahrzad Rafadi (BSc Computer Science, 2007) has leveraged state-of-the-art search technologies to launch the media delivery company BroadbandTV. Her technology identifies user-uploaded copyrighted content (including YouTube videos), sells and serves ads with the content, and shares the ad revenue with the copyright owner.


Joining the Global Debate
Bryan Tsuyuki Tomlinson (BSc Psychology, 2010) is pursuing a master’s degree in international relations at the London School of Economics. Tomlinson will study alongside students from across the world, a perfect fit for a UBC Science graduate keen on investigating international life in an exciting, vibrant city.

Alumnus of Distinction Seeks Spicy Thai Food
Lifelong foodie Alia Dharamsi (BSc Integrated Sciences, 2010) has received a 2011 Young Woman of Distinction Award from the YWCA Metro Vancouver for her work as president and founder of the UBC Meal Exchange. The program raised over $56,000 worth of food and resources for the Strathcona Healthy Eating Program, Sheway, the Greater Vancouver Food Bank and the UBC Food Bank. “I met other passionate leaders who inspired me with their motivation and energy toward making Vancouver a more livable city,” says Dharamsi. “Looking back at my undergrad, I have to say that Meal Exchange was one of the driving factors that kept me yearning for knowledge and provided me with an opportunity to give back to the community that raised me.” Dharamsi just completed her first year of UBC medical school, and in the next few months she’ll be off to Southeast Asia and Japan to explore the cultures, experiences, history and foods that Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and Japan have to offer.

From Ballet to Bacteria
Four years ago Rebecca Gordon (BSc Microbiology and Immunology, 2011) had set her sights on a career in contemporary ballet. Little did she know that four years later she would have a very different passion—international public health. As part of her degree, Gordon worked with a small, student-run non-profit, Global Initiative for Village Empowerment in Kenya, on their HIV/AIDS education and prevention project. Gordon taught life skills workshops to children in grades six through eight on topics such as condom use, HIV and voluntary counselling and testing, with the goal of increasing awareness, demolishing misconceptions and eliminating stigma. Now back from Kenya, Gordon is working as a research assistant with UBC PRE-EMPT, an international maternal health research project. The work allows her to learn the logistics involved in planning, coordinating and executing an international public health research project. She plans to continue her education with a master’s degree in international public health as well as medical school.

Research on Ice
Sabine Lague (BSc Animal Biology, 2011) is no stranger to grand adventures. Prior to graduation, she was selected as one of 50 participants in a multidisciplinary expedition to Antarctica led by the Canadian non-profit Students on Ice. The team conducted research—glaciology, geology, palaeontology, oceanography and marine ecology—in the unparalleled beauty and purity of the Antarctic ecosystem. As the team’s only Canadian biologist, Lague collaborated with marine mammal ecologists from Scotland to conduct population and behavioural surveys of penguins and seabirds. She now applies her Antarctic experience to graduate studies at UBC exploring the cardiovascular adaptations of bar-headed geese during their biannual migration over the Himalayas. Lague is also helping to establish the UBC Polar Club for researchers and enthusiasts who wish to study and help preserve the polar regions.

CLASSNOTES ~ Spring 2011

Olympic Glory Is All Relative

Nancy Ricker (PhD Botany, 1971) basked in reflected glory when her daughter Maëlle won the 2010 Winter Olympics Gold Medal for snowboard cross at Vancouver’s Cypress Bowl.

More Than Fish in the Ocean

Curtis Suttle (BSc Zoology, 1978 | PhD Botany, 1987) was awarded the 2010 AG Huntsman Award for Biological Oceanography and Fisheries Science in recognition of his extensive contribution to the field of marine sciences. Curtis, one of the world's leading marine virologists, is among a small group of researchers credited with launching the field of marine virology nearly 20 years ago. His contributions cross over many fields including biological oceanography, environmental microbiology, microbial ecology, virology and phycology.

Diamond Sharp Drafting Skills

Since graduation, Royanna Wild (BSc Geology, 1989) hasn’t strayed far from the minerals exploration community, although she left field work early on and became more involved in the office end of the industry. “While working in Vancouver, I met my husband (a georox), started a family, and then eventually we began working for ourselves by starting Wildrock Resources Consulting and Drafting. I still enjoy contracting to industry in GIS and drafting, as well as volunteering and sharing my enthusiasm for rocks and the mining industry with anyone who will listen!”

Balancing Health and Family

After a nine-month sabbatical to re-energize, reflect and plan, Jennifer Scrubb (BSc Biology, 1988 | MSc Human Kinetics, 1994) has worked to develop a career as a consultant in health promotion and education. “I’m thrilled with my decision and thoroughly enjoy the work I do! I live a balanced and full life by raising my beautiful daughter, enjoying local and international travel, volunteering, and remaining active.”

A recent Beyond the BSc volunteer speaker, Scrubb relished the opportunity to motivate science students to explore non-traditional career and educational options after graduation. “I think it’s important to remain involved as my own time at UBC enabled me to solidify my passion for health promotion and shape my own future.”

Good Communications Key to Good Chemistry

After wrapping up research position at the UBC School of Journalism, Eric Jandciu (MSc Chemistry, 2000) is coordinating UBC Science’s brand new Communicating Science course (SCIE 300). “Going to UBC helped gain access into my desired industry. I wouldn't be working in the field or teaching science communication without both my MSc and MJ credentials.”

Botany Graduates Are Patent Pending

Lee Johnson (PhD Botany, 2006) is now a patent lawyer with Gowling Lafleur Henderson LLP, whose offices reside on the 37th floor of Place Ville Marie, the tallest office building in Montreal. Johnson and Mark Pidkowich (PhD Botany, 2001)--who is practicing patent law with Smart and Biggar in Vancouver--are training to become Canadian patent agents. It seems that doctoral research in botany opens unexpected doors!

Academic Pursuits

Ben Gilbert (PhD Botany, 2008) has relocated and is now an assistant professor at the University of Toronto.

Alumni Jon Nakane honoured with UBC Science - President's Award.
Congratulations to Jon Nakane (PhD, Physics 2006) who has been named to receive a 2011 Faculty of Science Achievement Award. Jon is a native of Vancouver and has earned 3 degrees from UBC, most recent being his PhD in Physics (2006). He has been with the Engineering Physics Project Lab since 2005 and Lab Director since 2007. He is heavily involved with the robotic course. (Phys 253).
These awards recognize staff, students and faculty whose contributions in areas such as service, administration, leadership and outreach have had a significant positive impact in achieving the goals of the Faculty of Science. See Faculty of Science Achievement Awards.

a place of mind, The University of British Columbia

UBC Faculty of Science, Office of the Dean
Earth Sciences Building, 2178-2207 Main Mall
Vancouver, BC, V6T 1Z4 | Map to ESB

Emergency Procedures | Accessibility | Contact UBC | © Copyright The University of British Columbia