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Connect Issue 4, 2015



Taking the 'neglect' out of neglected global diseases

Diseases like Chagas and Ebola affect a large number of people in poor countries, yet receive few resources, and often, little attention. Biologist Donald Moerman and chemist Jennifer Love are part of the Neglected Global Disease Initiative at UBC, which is working to bring these illnesses into sharper focus.

“More people suffer from nematode infections than people suffer from heart disease in North America,” says Moerman. “At a global level, a lot of time we think diseases like cancer are the most serious problem we face. But it isn’t the entire picture.”

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First superconducting graphene created by UBC physicists

Graphene, the ultra-thin, ultra-strong material made from a single layer of carbon atoms, just got a little more extreme. UBC physicists have been able to create the first superconducting graphene sample by coating it with lithium atoms.

“Decorating monolayer graphene with a layer of lithium atoms enhances the its electron–phonon coupling to the point where superconductivity can be induced,” says Andrea Damascelli, director of UBC’s Quantum Matter Institute and lead scientist of the study outlining the discovery.


Send us your old photos and be #retroUBCscience

UBC Science needs your old snapshots. We are looking for photos that showcase the personal, unique and funny side of our history, from 1915 up to 2000.



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Celebrate UBC's Centennial
September 30
Help us recreate the iconic UBC photo taken at the end of the Great Trek in 1922 in the shape of the UBC100 logo. Plus music, food trucks and more.

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Wharton Lecture, Botanical Garden
October 2
Biologist Meg Lowman, known as “The Queen of Canopies,” will deliver a lecture on forest canopies and ecosystems.

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Beaty Biodiversity Birthday Bash
October 17
Help celebrate five years of biodiversity exhibits with a free, family friendly birthday party. Cake’s on us.


UBC researcher helps develop astronomy in West Africa

UBC astronomer Linda Strubbe was busy this summer helping organize the second West African International Summer School of Young Astronomers. The program, held in Nsukka in South-East Nigeria, supports 50 university students.

The summer school began in 2013 and is the brainchild of Nigerian astronomer Bonaventure Okere. Okere met Strubbe at a conference in 2012 and talked about his ideas for developing astronomy in West Africa. Strubbe jumped at the opportunity to work with him to create the international summer school.


Asteroid bombardments might have made Earth habitable

Earth's first crust — rich in radioactive heat-producing elements such as uranium and potassium — was torn from the planet when asteroids bombarded it early in its history. The finding by UBC and University of California researchers could explain why our planet didn't end up like present-day Venus.


Changing waters

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Climate change is forcing fish out of their current habitats and into cooler waters, UBC researchers say.

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The findings are part of the Ocean 2015 Initiative examining the latest data on climate change.

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The study is intended to inform discussions at the 2015 UN Climate Change Conference in Paris.



 Renowned quantum physicist Jennifer Hoffman has joined UBC’s Physics and Astronomy department as a Canada Excellence Research Chair.

A $1.1 million estate gift by geologist Wilbert R. Ted Danner will increase support for UBC geology students.

UBC computer scientist Anne Condon and a team of 28 faculty, alumni, staff and students ran the Scotiabank Half Marathon and 5K run, raising $11,286 to fund programs aimed at increasing diversity and gender balance in computer science.

UBC researchers exploring forest genomics, fish conservation, ocean particle fluxes and software development where elected to the Royal Society of Canada.

Quantum leap: $66.5 million investment for UBC QMI

UBC’s Quantum Matter Institute has received a $66.5-million investment from the Government of Canada—the largest government investment in a single UBC research program. The funds will help UBC position itself as a global leader in quantum materials research.

Climate scientist recognized by UBC

Gordon McBean (BSc’64, PhD’70), an internationally recognized climate scientist who shared the 2007 Nobel Prize, will receive a UBC Alumni Award of Distinction in October. McBean is president of the International Council for Science, and played a key role in the development of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize with IPCC colleagues, including Al Gore.

Do you have fun and exciting news? Write us a little note and we’ll share it on our website.


In Memoriam: Dr Peter Rastall (1931-2015)

Professor Emeritus Peter Rastall passed away on March 27, 2015. Rastall studied at the University of Manchester, coming to UBC in 1957, where he was professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy until his retirement in 1996. In addition to his love of physics he had a passion for spelling which led him to publish a paper titled Whole Language and Phonetic Spelling.


PHAS is celebrating the UBC100!

As a founding department of UBC, PHAS will be launching various initiatives throughout the year to celebrate this milestone. Stay tuned for more PHAS excitement in the coming months as we launch public lectures, an open house, and an alumni reunion!

To read more about the history of the UBC 100, please visit:


Botanists conduct first large-scale genetic study of marijuana, hemp

The first large-scale genetic study of marijuana and hemp, co-authored by UBC botanist Jonathan Page, is providing a clearer picture of the genetic organization of cannabis.

“The genetic difference between marijuana and hemp has legal implications in many countries,” says Page. “Right now, the genetic identity of a marijuana strain can’t be accurately determined by its name or reported ancestry. We require a practical, accurate and more reliable classification system of this plant.”


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