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Connect Issue 3, 2015



Enzyme could make everyone a universal blood donor

UBC chemists and scientists at the Centre for Blood Research have created an enzyme that could change blood types. The enzyme works by snipping off the sugars, also known as antigens, found in Type A and Type B blood, making it more like Type O, which can be given to all patients.

“The concept is not new but until now we needed so much of the enzyme to make it work that it was impractical,” said UBC chemist Steve Withers.

Gigantic whales able to eat great quantities of fish thanks to stretchy nerves

UBC zoologists have discovered that rorqual whales, which include blue, fin and humpback whales, are able to ingest incredible volumes of water thanks to their unique nerve structure. Their nerves can double in length and then recoil like a “bungee cord.” The stretchy nerves explain how the whales are able to balloon an immense pocket between their body wall and overlying blubber to capture prey during feeding dives.



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Ask an Expert about Fish Bioacoustics
Biologist Abby Schwarz will explain how fish pick up sounds in the water through their bodies and their internal ear. Free event.
July 5, 2015

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Peacocks are Way Cool Becauseā€¦
Did you know peacocks produce a rainbow of feather colours without any colourful pigments? Discover more at the Beaty.
August 2, 2015

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UBC Science summer camps open
Sign up for physics and computer science Grade 8 to 10 camps. Build electrical circuits and design items on a 3D printer.
Summer 2015


UBC Science going retro

Was your UBC Science experience so last millennium? Let’s see the proof! Share your photos with UBC Science to show today’s young whippersnappers how it was done. We are looking for photos that showcase the personal, unique and funny side of UBC Science’s history, from 1915 up to 2000.


MESSENGER reveals age of Mercury’s magnetic field

Data from MESSENGER, the spacecraft that orbited Mercury for four years before crashing into the planet this spring, shows that the planet’s magnetic field is four billion years old.

“If we didn’t have these recent observations, we would never have known how Mercury’s magnetic field evolved over time,” said Catherine Johnson, UBC planetary scientist and lead author of the study. “It’s just been waiting to tell us its story.”



The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation is supporting quantum materials research at UBC with a $1.4 million US grant.

UBC students and postdoctoral fellows in biological engineering and bioinformatics have received $3.3 million in grants from NSERC.

Microbial expert Laura Wegener Parfrey has been awarded a Young Investigator Grant from the Human Frontiers Science Program.

Zoologist Adam Ford and mathematician Niki Mavraki have been recognized with UBC Governor General’s Gold Medals for their outstanding academic work.

Congratulations to this spring's Killam Teaching Prize recipients Mona Berciu (PHAS), Mark Jellinek (EOAS), Gregor Kiczales (CS) and Roland Stull (EOAS).

Tech entrepreneur appointed CEO of InTouch Technology

Technology entrepreneur Sandra Wear (BSc, ’92) has been appointed Chief Executive Officer of InTouch Technology, maker of sales and retention software for health clubs. Previously she founded two tech companies, The DocSpace Company and Atalum Wireless.

Wear is the CEO of Canadian Women in Technology and co-founder of Be Like Ada, a coding boot camp for teenage girls.

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


The mathematics behind disease

UBC researcher Daniel Coombs uses mathematics to understand how viruses, such as HIV, function, change and spread within one person’s body and across individuals.

“We’re using microscopy to study how B-cells, a type of highly specialised immune cell, respond to infection. A technique called single particle tracking allows us to label proteins on the surface of the cells and track each cell individually,” Coombs explained.


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