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Connect Issue 1, 2013
Tuberculosis image
Recycled anti-parasite drug could be potent TB treatment

Drugs used to treat parasitic diseases are showing surprising potential as a therapy for tuberculosis. UBC microbiologists conducted in vitro tests of the avermectin family of drugs, commonly used to eliminate the parasitic worms that cause river blindness and elephantiasis. It turns out the drugs also destroy the bacteria that cause TB, including drug resistant forms of the disease.

“These drugs are cheap, routinely produced by pharmaceutical companies, and in many cases, approved for humans use,” says UBC’s Santiago Ramón-García, co-author on the paper.

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Managing groundwater beneath the agricultural landscape
David Rudolph, a geological engineer and UBC’s 2013 Darcy Lecturer, on groundwater protection and management.
» February 4, 2013


Forget carbon-neutral. Can we be carbon-negative?
Environmental scientist John Robinson and Pulse Energy’s David Helliwell on the future of sustainability. A UBC Science 50th anniversary dialogue.
» February 5, 2013


Passion and plumage: A history of feathers in fashion
This stunning Beaty Biodiversity Museum exhibit explores the role colour and adornment play in courtship and attraction. The opening event: a fashion show.
» February 7, 2013

Astrophysicists break ground on Canada’s largest radio telescope

A UBC-led team began construction last week on Canada’s largest radio telescope on a snow-filled site outside Penticton, B.C.

The new telescope, with a footprint larger than six NHL hockey rinks, will listen for cosmic sound waves and help scientists look back in time to understand why our universe has expanded so rapidly. Part of the $11-million Canadian Hydrogen Intensity-Mapping Experiment, the telescope boasts a 100-metre-by-100-metre collecting area filled with 2,560 low-noise receivers built with components adapted from the cell phone industry. Collectively, it will scan half of the sky every day.

"We plan to map a quarter of the observable universe," says University of British Columbia astrophysicist Mark Halpern, the project's principal investigator. "This is an ambitious, made-in-Canada endeavor."

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50 years of science at UBC

UBC Science celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. To mark the milestone, we've created a Flickr slideshow with photos from our historical archives.


Visit science.ubc.ca/50 to learn about upcoming anniversary events and activities, see photos, and join us in celebrating half a century of UBC Science.


Do you have photos and memorabilia that can help us commemorate UBC Science's 50th anniversary? E-mail alumni@science.ubc.ca.


Quantum materials and digital media to be focus of new CERCs
UBC Science has gained Canada Excellence Research Chairs valued at $20 million over seven years in quantum materials and devices and digital media research and innovation.

Hancock wins top pharmaceutical award
UBC microbiologist Robert Hancock has received the Prix Galien 2012 Research Award, widely considered the most prestigious honour in Canadian pharmaceutical research and innovation. Hancock was recognized for pioneering work in the field of antibiotics and bacteria.

Botanists inducted into US science society
Three UBC botanists have been named fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Beverley Green, Patrick Keeling and Geoffrey Wasteneys are now part of the world’s largest general scientific society.

UBC ‘outnumbers’ Canadian competition
Eleven UBC mathematicians have been named to the inaugural class of American Mathematical Society fellows – more than any other Canadian institution. The new fellows are: Alejandro Adem, Martin Thomas Barlow, David William Boyd, James B Carrell, William Allen Casselman, Ailana Fraser, Nassif Ghoussoub, Izabella Laba, Zinovy Reichstein, Maurice Sion and Gordon Slade.

Gregor Kiczales inducted as 2012 ACM fellow
UBC computer scientist Gregor Kiczales has been named a 2012 Association for Computing Machinery fellow for his contribution to aspect-oriented programming language design and implementation.

UBC math alum picks up technical Oscar

This February, UBC Math alum Doug James will be sharing a technical achievement Oscar for his work on the wavelet turbulence simulation, a technique which allows the creation of more realistic gas and fire visual effects.


Wavelet turbulence is an algorithm that allows for faster and better simulation of formerly time-consuming effects such as volcanic eruptions and explosions. It has been used in movies such as Monsters vs. Aliens, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen and the upcoming Iron Man 3.

Doug James received his PhD at UBC in Applied Mathematics in 2001. He is currently an associate professor in Computer Science at Cornell University.

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Doug James

Computer Science looks for photos, memories

UBC Computer Science is celebrating its 45th anniversary on Alumni Weekend, May 25th. In preparation for the celebration, the CS Department 45th Anniversary Planning Committee is looking for memories and photos from CS alumni which will be used in a website showcasing the department's history.

Describe a highlight, a fun memory from your years at UBC CS, or tell us about something that you've done with your education since then that you're proud of. If you have a photo of yourself or any pictures of your time at UBC, please include them for the timeline!


Sloan grant to help UBC compare notes on classroom innovation

UBC is leading a group of top North American universities in an effort to speed up the adoption of innovative teaching techniques in science classrooms.

The Bay View Alliance – which includes the University of California Davis, University of Kansas, Indiana University Bloomington, the University of Texas Austin and Canadian institutions – was launched in November with a $800,000 grant from the Alfred P Sloan Foundation.

“We’ve built up a robust body of knowledge about what works – and what doesn’t – when teaching science to undergraduates,” says Lorne Whitehead, a UBC physics professor and principal investigator for the alliance. “Yet for reasons we don’t completely understand, that knowledge has had trouble making its way into classrooms and curricula.”

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Go green and enjoy Synergy on your computer or tablet

Published twice a year, Synergy is UBC Science's journal of research, discovery and innovation. And now Synergy is going green, with a digital edition that contains interactive content and allows for easy browsing on your tablet or computer. Keep your paper subscription to Synergy and also enjoy the digital copy, or go completely green. It's your choice! Just update your contact information at science.ubc.ca/update or e-mail alumni@science.ubc.ca and let us know.


Researcher’s donation secures Okanagan habitat

UBC zoologist Sarah Otto is using her MacArthur genius grant to help preserve fragile habitats in the South Okanagan of BC. The researcher is donating two gifts of $50,000 each to the Nature Trust of BC and the Nature Conservancy of Canada. The money will help protect at-risk species of woodpeckers, sparrows, badgers, turtles, plants and trees. “Seeing this remarkable region, home to so many species from bighorn sheep to cacti, made me aware of the diversity of life in this part of Canada and also its fragility as an ecosystem,” says Otto.

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