UBC Science Across British Columbia


Drought Tolerant Vineyards

Chemistry professor Dr. Susan Murch and colleagues are working to develop of drought tolerant rootstocks specifically developed for the environmental conditions of the Okanagan and Similkameen Valleys. Lab results indicate that they could potentially reduce water consumption by 45%.

Port Moody

UBC Marine Mammal Research Unit

The UBC Marine Mammal Research Unit established the Open Water Research Laboratory in Port Moody in collaboration with the Vancouver Aquarium in 2003. This floating facility is designed to study free-swimming seals and sea lions. The lab allows the researchers to bridge the gap between the limitations of field studies and the physical constraints of working in an aquarium.


Geological Field Studies

Since the 1950s, the Department of Earth, Ocean  and Atmospheric Sciences has based its primary geological field school on a site on White Lake Road in Oliver. The 88-acre camp is uniquely situated to take advantage of the varied local geology in the region. UBC students and students from other post-secondary institutions regularly take advantage of the site as field experience has become more and more important to industry. UBC is working to bolster the facilities and curriculum related to the field school, which will not only help British Columbia meet a growing demand for geoscientists and industry professionals, but also ensure students have access to world class field training.

Mackenzie – Prince George – Valemont

Genomic Approaches to Microbial Community Monitoring for Forest Management

This first-of-its-kind project is investigating the potential of using the forest floor's microbial ecosystem as a bellwether forest management tool. UBC microbiologist Bill Mohn seeks to understand the impact that intensive biofuel harvesting might have on the long-term health of the forest. His research looks to the forest floor, which harbours the small organisms responsible for soil fertility and re-growth of harvested forests, and may give the first warning if the system is failing. The research examines two regions, the sub-boreal spruce forest around Prince George and Williams Lake, and interior Douglas fir forest in the Kootenays. Using Bill's work, organizations responsible for forest management could have sensitive new methods to monitor forest activity and so they could respond quickly and appropriately.

Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows

Looking Up, Way Up

UBC’s Liquid Mirror Observatory is situated on a hill top in the UBC Malcolm Knapp Research Forest in Maple Ridge. The 400 metre altitude of the site places it in clear, undisturbed air, which provides excellent image quality. The Observatory houses the Large Zenith Telescope. The telescope’s 6-metre diameter primary mirror is one of the largest in the world and is the largest to use liquid-mirror technology. UBC Department of Physics and Astronomy scientists are currently using the telescope to study the properties of sodium atoms in the upper atmosphere. The resulting data is of great interest to scientists and engineers who are designing the next generation of large optical telescopes.

Powell River – Sunshine Coast

Rivers Inlet Ecosystem Study

Rivers Inlet is a fjord located on BC's central coast and Traditional Territory of the Wuikinuxv Nation. It is a unique coastal environment, with rich and diverse marine resources that sustain the people, and resource and tourist industries. Once one of the most productive sockeye based ecosystems in BC, the annual return of sockeye salmon has dropped dramatically, epitomising an alarming province wide-trend for this species, with significant repercussions up the food web. RIES, funded by the Tula Foundation, was initiated in 2008 by UBC and Simon Fraser University to understand the dynamics of spring productivity and how it affects the growth of juvenile sockeye salmon. Working closely with the Wuikinuxv Nation, the RIES objectives are currently being tackled through a coordination of multidisciplinary projects.

Saanich and the Islands

Investigating changes in Plant Diversity across the Peninsula

In 1968, a UVIC PhD student by the name of Hans Roemer (now a well-known botanist) surveyed over 400 20x20 metre plots across the Saanich Peninsula, recording the presence and abundance of plant species within each plot. Fast forward to 2009, when Jenny McCune, a PhD student in UBC’s Department of Botany, revisited and resurveyed 184 of the same plots. Jenny found that the diversity of plants has increased, due to both the spread of non- native species and increases in more common native species. She also found that rarer native species like the chocolate lily and Western trillium experienced a decline over the period. Jenny is now trying to determine whether the characteristics of plant species can help predict which species will be the most vulnerable to future landscape changes.

Math Mania (Pacific Institute for Mathematical Sciences)

A consortium of eight universities including UBC, PIMS is committed to increasing diversity in the mathematical sciences and to foster educational activities for students in K-12. Math Mania is a popular alternative math education event that PIMS has been running in schools across BC since 1997, including elementary schools in Victoria, Saanich, Sidney and Sooke. Math Mania presents a variety of interactive demonstrations, puzzles, games and art, designed to demonstrate to children - and their parents - fun ways of learning both math and computer science concepts. Free and open to the public, Math Mania is aimed at all levels, though geared to students from grades 2 to 5.

Exploring Microbes in Saanich Inlet (Microbiology and Immunology)

Steve Hallam, an assistant professor of microbiology and immunology, and colleagues at UBC have joined forces with the US Department of Energy Joint Genome Institute to map the genome of a microbe that is silently shaping the ecology of the planet’s expanding ocean dead zones. Examining the microbe in Saanich Inlet, the researchers found the region an ideal ‘living lab’ to study microbial communities that have adapted and specialized to thrive under low oxygen conditions. Studying the microbial communities of dead zone ecology could help researchers monitor and mitigate the impact of dead zone expansion and intensification.

Fraser – Nicola

Training for Tomorrow

Over the next 10 years, BC’s mining and exploration sector will require 15,000 new workers to meet current and future industry needs. The Earth Sciences Building (ESB) meets the pressing need for modern research space for the department’s geoscientists and for industry collaborations. ESB provides upgraded learning spaces for 500 dedicated Earth Science majors and graduate trainees, as well as the numerous undergraduates enrolled in Earth Science courses. Graduates from the EOS program will help maintain and grow BC’s mining, oil and gas, and mineral exploration industries and will support their ongoing efforts to develop sustainable and environmentally responsible practices.

Vancouver Island Coast

Bamfield Marine Sciences Centre

Bamfield Marine Sciences Centre is a world-class teaching and research facility located on the outer west coast of Vancouver Island, Canada. The Marine Centre supports diverse coastal and marine research of the highest calibre and is recognized as among the very best research and training facilities in the world. Explore the diversity of this dynamic coastal environment, from exposed rocky shorelines, expansive sandy beaches, productive estuaries, and ancient coastal temperate rainforests.

Victoria-Juan de Fuca

A Whale of a Project

In 2009 and 2010, UBC researchers articulated the bones of a blue whale in a warehouse in Victoria’s inner harbour. Originally from PEI, the blue whale was brought to Victoria for restoration before making its final trip to the Beaty Biodiversity Museum. The Beaty Biodiversity Museum is dedicated to enhancing understanding and appreciation of biodiversity and making the research conducted by the scientists of UBC’s Beaty Biodiversity Centre more accessible to the public.

Climate change Impacts on Barnacle and Mussel Populations

A study by UBC zoologist Dr. Christopher Harley found that increased daily temperatures not only caused rocky shore barnacles and mussels to live at lower shore levels, but that this change in habitat also increased their risk of predation. The study examined the potential for biodiversity loss at test-bed sites in rocky intertidal communities from the west coast of Vancouver Island to the shores of the San Juan Islands. At sites where the temperature remained cooler, mussels and barnacles were able to live high on the shore, beyond the reach of their sea star predators. However, at warmer locations, the barnacles and mussels were forced to live at lower shore levels increasing their risk of predation. The increase in temperature due to climate change over the past 50 years resulted in a loss of 50 cm of the upper limits of shoreline habitat and local extinctions at three of the test sites. The study shows that the combination of warming and predation could lead to more widespread species extinctions than are currently predicted.