ISSUE 02, 2012 Events Alumni Weekend Research Antibiotics and Asthma | Anti-Matter Fingerprint Students Sci Peer Support Lauded Shop Science Swag Class Connections Sci Alum to Head ICS
UBC Science Connect
photo credit: Ole Seehausen, Fish Ecology and Evolution, Eawag, Switzerland

Picky Females Good for Biodiversity

UBC researchers are challenging the long-held belief that species can happily coexist only if they differ in ecological adaptations. Apparently, being picky when choosing mates can also play a critical role in the diversity of species.

"Species can stably coexist as long as two simple conditions are met,” says Leithen M’Gonigle who conducted the research as a PhD student at UBC. “First, the distribution of resources they use can’t be uniform, so females with different mate preferences can occupy different resource hotspots. Second, females must pay a cost for being choosy, through reduced survival.”

The Nature study helps explain why high rates of biodiversity can exist in limited areas, says co-author Rupert Mazzucco from Austria’s International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis. “These costs turn out to be crucial in reinforcing species boundaries. They prevent females with particular preferences from invading areas dominated by males they find unattractive.”

Museum Hop for Free and Win at Alumni Weekend

UBC Science alum have two great reasons to visit campus on May 26. Admission to a bunch of attractions is free. And you could win prizes just for visiting.

Get Your Hands On Science
UBC’s Life Science Institute hosts NanoSpace Invaders and the Beaty Museum celebrates nature with kid-friendly science at Science Rendezvous.
» May 12 + May 29, 2012

A Growing Affair
Empower your inner gardener. Plants for sale and demos at the UBC Botanical Garden.
» May 12, 2012

This stunning photo exhibit at the Beaty Biodiversity Museum explores the drama of predator-prey relationships.
» May 17 - July 22, 2012

UBC Evolutionary Biologist Elected to US Academy

Photo: Dolph Schluter, UBC.

Dolph Schluter, an eminent UBC evolutionary biologist whose early work focused on Charles Darwin's famous Galápagos Island finches has been named to one of the world's most prestigious honorary societies. Schluter, professor and Canada Research Chair in Zoology, was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in April. He joins the ranks of some of the world's most accomplished leaders from academia, business, public affairs, the humanities, and the arts.

Schluter is the fifth UBC Science researcher to be named to the Academy. Mathematician Donald Ludwig, biologist Loren Rieseberg, physicist William Unruh, and physicist and educator Carl Wieman, are all members.

» Read more.

Antibiotics Use in Kids Linked to Allergic Asthma

A study released by UBC microbiologists in March indicates that widely used antibiotics may increase incidence and severity of allergic asthma in children. "It's long been suspected that kids exposed to more antibiotics--like those in developed countries--are more prone to allergic asthma," says the study’s author, UBC microbiologist Brett Finlay. "Our study is the first experimental proof that shows how."

Finlay’s team and collaborators led by Kelly McNagny at the Biomedical Research Centre examined how two widely used antibiotics--streptomycin and vancomycin--affected the bacterial ecosystem in the gut.

They found that vancomycin profoundly alters the bacterial communities in the intestine and increases severity of asthma in mouse models.

Photo Gallery: Rise of the Jellyfish

See full versions by visiting the UBC Science Flickr stream or read more on the Science site.
Photos: Casper Tybjerg, Niu Fisheries, Conor McCracken.

UBC-TRIUMF Physicists Help Provide First Glimpse of 'Anti-Matter Fingerprint'

An international team led by Canadian physicists from UBC, TRIUMF and SFU have used microwaves to manipulate anti-hydrogen atoms. The experiment, conducted at the European Laboratory for Particle Physics (CERN), provides the first glimpse of an 'anti-atomic fingerprint.'

"This demonstrates the feasibility of applying microwave spectroscopy to fiendishly difficult-to-handle anti-atoms," says UBC physicist Walter Hardy. "Our team at CERN is about to enter an intensive upgrade that promises to create an ever-clearer picture of the inner structure of anti-matter atoms."

The team’s work has focused on the stable trapping of anti-hydrogen atoms, the anti-matter counterpart of the simplest atom, hydrogen. Their progress has been published in three Nature papers in little over a year.

Science AD Lauded for Leadership in Student Development

UBC Science is very proud to acknowledge the fine work of Paul Harrison--Associate Dean of student services at the Faculty and BSc 1970. In April, Paul received UBC’s Margaret Fulton Award, which recognizes exemplary contributions to the student experience and the university community.

"Paul is an exceptional leader,” says Simon Peacock, Dean of the Faculty of Science. "His team, and the peer support programs they’ve developed at UBC, are recognized as exemplary across campus. They’ve harnessed the talents of student volunteers and dedicated alumni to help our students excel academically, maintain a healthy life balance, and navigate life after graduation. This award could not have gone to a more deserving individual!”

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Photo credit: Rebecca Gordon

UBC Science Alum Named President-Elect of ICS

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.

"When I was in fourth year, I took a course in fluid mechanics with professor RW (Bob) Stewart," recalls McBean.

"Paul Leblond, then a graduate student taught the second term. As a student, it was interesting to realize how important one of your professors was--not something that we usually appreciate as an undergraduate!"

UK's Royal Society Honours UBC Enzyme Engineer

A UBC professor of chemistry who studies how enzymes function, engineers them for use in industrial applications, and develops inhibitors as potential therapeutics has been elected to the Royal Society. Stephen Withers, Director of UBC's Centre for High-Throughput Biology, was elected to the United Kingdom’s prestigious independent national academy on April 20.

UBC Gains CRC in Cosmology
Gary Hinshaw, recruited to UBC last year from NASA, has been named the Canada Research Chair in Observational Cosmology. His work on NASA's Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe helped peg the age of the Universe at 13.73 billion years--give or take 1%.

'Amazing' Math Teacher Recognized for Education, Aboriginal Outreach
UBC mathematician Mark MacLean was awarded the 2012 Pacific Institute for the Mathematical Sciences Education Prize this March. MacLean helped establish UBC’s integrated first-year Science One program and has taken leadership roles in outreach and aboriginal engagement at the University.

Fisheries, IRES, Applied Math Units Join UBC Science
UBC Science was pleased to welcome three of the University's strongest interdisciplinary research units into the fold this Spring. The move adds a cluster of sustainability- and policy-oriented research streams to the Faculty’s portfolio.

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