UBC Research News Releases

Can social robots be used in elder care? UBC study aims to find out

Post Date: Sep 20, 2023

Meet Kiwi and Mango, social robots from Japan. They may look like a cuddly cross between Teletubbies and WALL-E, but what lies beneath is advanced AI technology that enables them to learn, speak, recognize faces and voices, move around and even offer hugs, emulating the warmth of a real pet.

Kiwi and Mango are on loan to UBC for a new study exploring interactions between social robots and older adults. Dr. Lillian Hung (she/her), lead researcher, Canada Research Chair in Senior Care and assistant professor of nursing, explains how the study was conceived and what it could mean for elder care.

Read More

New action guide empowers people with dementia

Post Date: Sep 14, 2023

More than 597,000 Canadians are living with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia, and yet big gaps remain in healthcare support. It’s estimated that 85 per cent of people living with dementia are not receiving support after their diagnosis. And research shows being engaged in community is one of the biggest factors in slowing the condition’s progression.

Read More

Many people have biased perceptions of EDI leaders: study

Post Date: Sep 07, 2023

For the past decade, companies across North America have paid more attention to supporting equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI). This has prompted many organizations to create a leadership role fully dedicated to advancing EDI — so much so that between 2015 and 2020, the job title “head of diversity” increased 107 percent on LinkedIn. By 2021, more than half of S&P 500 firms had named a chief diversity officer.

But a new study from the UBC Sauder School of Business shows many people have deeply held beliefs about who should be an EDI leader, and they are rooted in racial stereotypes.

Read More

Fish buffered from recent marine heatwaves, showing there’s still time to act on climate change

Post Date: Aug 30, 2023

Fish were surprisingly resilient to marine heatwaves before 2019, highlighting the need to keep seas from warming further, according to new research published today in Nature.

Marine heatwaves can have devastating effects on marine ecosystems and have been linked to widespread coral bleaching, harmful algal blooms, and abrupt declines in fish species. However, marine heatwaves before 2019 had little to no effect on the amount and type of marine fish affected, demonstrating that oceans have some resilience left if we can keep to 2019 temperatures, the researchers say.

Read More

Salmon bones confirm sustainable chum fishery for 2,500 years under Tsleil-Waututh Nation

Post Date: Aug 30, 2023

New research confirms that Tsleil-Waututh Nation has consistently and sustainably fished for chum salmon for 1,200 years longer than the archaeological record had previously demonstrated.

This supports Tsleil-Waututh knowledge and further demonstrates that Tsleil-Waututh people have been sustainably living on and stewarding their traditional territory for longer than Western science may recognize.

Read More

B.C. split on safety of self-driving cars – gradual introduction needed to build comfort among all road users

Post Date: Sep 07, 2023

While self-driving vehicles (SDVs) are being hailed as a solution for safer, more efficient roads, new UBC research suggests British Columbians are not quite ready to embrace self-driving cars wholeheartedly – and will need a period of gradual transition before adoption.

The study, conducted by the Research on Active Transportation Lab (REACT) in the faculty of applied science, reveals mixed perceptions of automated vehicles, particularly their effects on pedestrian comfort and safety.

Read More

Study debunks stereotypes about homeless people’s spending habits

Post Date: Aug 31, 2023

The public has the wrong idea about what homeless people would do after coming into a large amount of money.

A newly published University of B.C. study in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences unveils this stark contrast between public perception and reality when it comes to how homeless people manage their finances.

Participants in a U.S. survey of more than 1,100 people predicted that recipients of an unconditional $7,500 cash transfer would spend 81 per cent more on “temptation goods” such as alcohol, drugs and tobacco if they were homeless than if they were not.

Read More

Researchers discover common origin behind major childhood allergies

Post Date: Aug 30, 2023

Several major childhood allergies may all stem from the community of bacteria living in our gut, according to a new study led by researchers at the University of British Columbia and BC Children’s Hospital.

The research, published in Nature Communications, identifies gut microbiome features and early life influences that are associated with children developing any of four common allergies — eczema, asthma, food allergy and/or hay fever. The findings could lead to methods of predicting whether a child will develop allergies, and ways to prevent them from developing at all.

Read More

People dislike AI art because it threatens their humanity: study

Post Date: Aug 29, 2023

AI-generated writing, photography, art and music have been skyrocketing in popularity, but that surging success has also triggered an enormous backlash, with many rejecting AI art — and even asserting that its proliferation marks the beginning of the end for humanity.

So why do some people react so negatively to art made by artificial intelligence? According to a new study from the UBC Sauder School of Business, it’s because for some, it challenges what it is to be human.

Read More

You’re reading this because an asteroid killed the dinosaurs, allowing mammals to dominate the Earth. But why?

Post Date: Aug 29, 2023

Dr. Kendra Chritz

Almost 66 million years ago, an asteroid struck the Earth, killing all non-avian dinosaurs and allowing mammals to dominate.

But just how did we evolve from rat-like creatures running between the feet of dinosaurs to take over their ecological niches? Dr. Kendra Chritz, assistant professor in the UBC department of earth, ocean and atmospheric sciences, aims to find out.

Read More

Microplastic pollution: Plants could be the answer

Post Date: Aug 29, 2023

UBC device uses wood dust to trap up to 99.9 per cent of microplastics in water

Could plants be the answer to the looming threat of microplastic pollution? Scientists at UBC’s BioProducts Institute found that if you add tannins—natural plant compounds that make your mouth pucker if you bite into an unripe fruit—to a layer of wood dust, you can create a filter that traps virtually all microplastic particles present in water.

While the experiment remains a lab set-up at this stage, the team is convinced that the solution can be scaled up easily and inexpensively once they find the right industry partner.

Read More

What’s your masculine style: Neo-traditional, egalitarian or progressive?

Post Date: Aug 14, 2023

Men navigate their intimate partner relationships depending on their masculine style, says new research led by UBC men’s health expert John Oliffe.

The study, which drew from in-depth interviews with 92 straight men ages 19 to 43 from diverse cultural backgrounds, found three types of masculinities:

Read More

Just how smart are ‘trash pandas’? Volunteer your backyard to help scientists find out

Post Date: Aug 16, 2023

This summer, you can turn your backyard into a raccoon IQ test to help researchers figure out just how brainy your average “trash panda” is.

Hannah Griebling

Raccoons have big brains and thrive in complex city environments. But research on their cognitive abilities, or how they learn and act on information from the environment, is scarce.

Read More

Selected quotes from research participants

Post Date: Aug 14, 2023

  • “Most of the time she [partner] does the house chores … while I do the manly duties like, maybe washing the car. Also, sometimes I do go for groceries, and I also do paint jobs in the house.” – Wayne
  • “The man is the head of the family….he is responsible for the relationship being equitable.” – Philip
  • “Before there were conflicts where … my girlfriend, she felt like she was cooking more often than I was, which was true … how we resolved that was we’ll schedule days ahead of time. For example, if you cook three days, I cook three days. Then I think by having a more rigid schedule like that, more quantifiable schedule, we were able to sort of divide it more equally.” – Muyang
Read More

Exercise apps a good prescription to boost healthcare workers’ mental health

Post Date: Aug 14, 2023

Simple home workouts using exercise apps can effectively reduce depressive symptoms in healthcare workers and could be a major tool to combat the global mental health crisis in the sector, says new University of British Columbia research.

The study, published today in JAMA Psychiatry, divided participants into either a waitlisted control group or an exercise group who were given free access to a suite of home exercise apps called DownDog, that included yoga, cardio and strength training. They were asked to aim for at least 80 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week over 12 weeks.

Read More

It’s 2023, and coming out is, well, complicated.

Post Date: Aug 09, 2023

Dr. Amin Ghaziani

In an era of unprecedented LGBTQ2+ visibility coupled with incredible backlash, coming out as a sexual minority can be a deeply ambivalent experience, according to new research.

Read More

Modern antidepressants may reduce risk of relapse for patients with bipolar depression

Post Date: Aug 03, 2023

Treatment with modern antidepressants may help prevent patients with bipolar disorder from relapsing into a depressive episode, according to an international clinical trial led by researchers at the University of British Columbia.

Dr. Lakshmi Yatham

The findings, published today in the New England Journal of Medicine, challenge current clinical practice guidelines and could change how bipolar depression is managed globally.

Read More

Clearcut logging leads to more frequent flooding, including extreme floods

Post Date: Aug 03, 2023

Study also shows that larger, intact watersheds reduce flood risk more effectively 

Robbie Johnson

Loss of forest cover is associated with more frequent extreme flooding, as well as more frequent floods of any size, according to new UBC research.

Read More

New study finds medications to treat alcohol addiction underused

Post Date: Jul 25, 2023

Medications for alcohol use disorder are underutilized in British Columbia, despite their safety and effectiveness, according to a new study published today in the journal Addiction.

The study found that between 2015 and 2019 fewer than five per cent of British Columbians who met the criteria for moderate to severe alcohol use disorder (AUD) received medications for the minimum recommended time of three months.

Researchers developed a cascade of care for AUD, a visual tool that describes the effectiveness of the health system in identifying people with AUD, engaging and retaining them in treatment and care, and in identifying gaps in service delivery.

Read More

New algorithm maps safest routes for city drivers

Post Date: Aug 02, 2023

Dr. Tarek Sayed

Most navigation apps can show you the fastest possible route to your destination and some can even suggest an eco-friendly route calculated to produce the least amount of carbon emissions.

But what if they could also map the safest route with the lowest possible risk of a crash?

Read More

Employers should allow workers to break the rules — sometimes

Post Date: Jul 24, 2023

When employees break the rules at work, they can land in hot water — but according to a new study from the UBC Sauder School of Business, bosses may want to think twice about cracking down on those who don’t stick to the script.

In the past, researchers believed that when employees broke the rules, they were doing it for malicious or self-serving reasons: for example, workers might steal, or take longer breaks than they’re entitled to. But it turns out that some employees ignore orders to help better serve customers, which can benefit businesses and improve the well-being of workers.

Read More

Star with two faces discovered thousands of light years from Earth

Post Date: Jul 19, 2023

It’s not the nicest description for a human, but a two-faced star has been identified by astronomers in a first for its kind.

With one side composed fully of hydrogen and the other of helium, the star has been dubbed Janus after the two-faced Roman god of transition, and described in a new study published in Nature today. “The surface of the white dwarf completely changes from one side to the other,” says first author Dr. Ilaria Caiazzo, a postdoctoral scholar at the California Institute of Technology and UBC alumna. “When I show the observations to people, they are blown away.”

Read More

The future of drug testing at festivals

Post Date: Jul 18, 2023

What if you could drop your drugs off at a vending machine that lets you know they’re safe in seconds, without any stigma?

UBC researchers will take one step closer to that goal this week when they take a prototype testing robot to Shambhala Music Festival in Salmo, B.C.

What is the future of drug testing?

Current portable testing techniques require technicians and can’t detect more than five compounds in a sample at a time, or specify the levels of any substance below five per cent.

Read More

A vicious cycle: Mental disorders cause the very stress that fuels them

Post Date: Jul 25, 2023

Dr. Katerina Rnic

Part of what makes depression so hard to overcome is that people with depression tend to behave in ways that lead to more stress in their lives—and stress in turn fuels mental illness.

Read More

Canadian scientists celebrate launch of Euclid satellite

Post Date: Jul 01, 2023

Mission will explore the evolution of the dark Universe

Today, the European Space Agency launched its Euclid satellite from Cape Canaveral, Fla. Twelve years in the making, the Euclid mission will construct a 3D map of the universe by observing billions of galaxies across more than one-third of the sky.

The goals: to understand the physical laws of the universe and explain how the universe originated and what it is made of.

The satellite will spend more than six years in space to accomplish the mission. More than 2,000 scientists will be involved in analyzing the data it sends back to Earth. This group includes Canadians from many leading astronomy research groups across the country.

Read More

Changes in the tick of ‘cosmic clocks’ reveal gravitational waves

Post Date: Jun 28, 2023

Using part of the Milky Way as an antenna, researchers have found evidence for gravitational waves that undulate over periods of years to decades by measuring changes in the tick of ‘cosmic clocks’, according to new research.

Read More

Canadian collaboration to develop national standards for substance use education and intervention in schools

Post Date: Jun 28, 2023

Substance use and related harms have been a key concern for many Canadians over the last seven years, but there remain troubling gaps in school-based approaches to substance use education and intervention. This leaves children and youth without critical information and supports for their wellbeing now and throughout their lives.

Read More

Rain gardens could save salmon from toxic tire chemicals

Post Date: Jun 21, 2023

Specially designed gardens could reduce the amount of a toxic chemical associated with tires entering our waterways by more than 90 per cent, new research shows.

Tired toxins

The chemical 6PPD-quinone can form when car tires interact with the atmosphere. It enters rivers and streams when rain runs off roads into waterways. It is toxic to coho salmon, rainbow trout and some other fish.

“Rain gardens”, or bioretention cells, are gardens engineered to reduce flooding and soak up contaminants when road runoff is directed onto them.

Read More

Biodegradable gel shows promise for cartilage regeneration

Post Date: Jun 21, 2023

A gel that combines both stiffness and toughness is a step forward in the bid to create biodegradable implants for joint injuries, according to new UBC research.

Mimicking articular cartilage, found in our knee and hip joints, is challenging. This cartilage is key to smooth joint movement, and damage to it can cause pain, reduce function, and lead to arthritis. One potential solution is to implant artificial scaffolds made of proteins that help the cartilage regenerate itself as the scaffold biodegrades. How well the cartilage regenerates is linked to how well a scaffold can mimic the biological properties of cartilage, and to date, researchers have struggled to combine the seemingly incompatible properties of stiffness and toughness.

Read More

UBC researchers turn black bitumen into green carbon fibres

Post Date: Jun 15, 2023

Bitumen, the sticky product from Alberta’s oil sands, is normally burned as fuel or gets a second life as asphalt pavement.

But what if it could be turned into something more valuable, like the carbon fibres that make aircraft and hockey sticks light and durable, and electric cars safer and more efficient?

Cheaper fibres

UBC materials engineer Dr. Yasmine Abdin and her colleagues, Dr. Frank Ko in the faculty of applied science and Dr. Scott Renneckar in the faculty of forestry, have developed a way to convert bitumen into commercial-grade carbon fibres.

Read More

Unlocking the potential of peer support to improve men’s mental health

Post Date: Jul 13, 2023

Approximately one of every five men in Canada will experience a mental health challenge this year. Many will avoid or delay seeking support, which can lead to devastating results.

Dr. Paul Sharp

Dr. Paul Sharp, a postdoctoral fellow with UBC’s Men’s Health Research Program and member of the Reducing Male Suicide Research Excellence Cluster, would like to help men find ways to tackle their mental health challenges through social connections.

Read More

International group of experts redefines concussions

Post Date: Jun 07, 2023

Doctors and other health-care providers have a new standard for diagnosing mild traumatic brain injury (TBI), thanks to a thorough process led by researchers from the University of B.C. and Harvard-affiliated Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital.

Dr. Noah Silverberg

Read More

When consumers buy embarrassing products, they don’t want friendly service

Post Date: Jun 07, 2023

A UBC Sauder School of Business study shows that when people buy blush-inducing items, they choose self-checkout—or failing that, the most robotic human available.

It’s an age-old law of marketing that friendly customer service is a sure way to boost your business. But customers who are buying embarrassing products don’t necessarily want a smiling face or pleasant small talk.

Read More

Baby’s first bites: How to introduce food allergens to infants

Post Date: Jun 07, 2023

Brock Williams

Safely introducing food to an infant for the first time can be daunting for caregivers. What can they eat? What if they choke? Will they like it? Throw allergens into the mix, and it’s a recipe for major anxiety.

Read More

B.C. still eviction capital of Canada and most are through no fault of the tenant

Post Date: Jun 07, 2023

B.C. still leads Canada with the highest eviction rate in the country, and the vast majority are no-fault, according to a new report.

Researchers from UBC’s Balanced Supply of Housing research cluster analyzed 2021 Canadian Housing Survey (CHS) data from almost 41,000 Canadian households and found more than one in 10, or 10.5 per cent of B.C. renter households, reported being evicted during the five years prior to data collection, compared with only 5.9 per cent nationally. Prince Edward Island was second at eight per cent, followed by Nova Scotia and Ontario at just over six per cent.

Read More

Why humans respect hard work regardless of results

Post Date: Jun 07, 2023

Dr. Azim Shariff

Have you ever had a co-worker make a big show of how hard they work—even though they don’t get great results?

They do this because people attach moral value to hard work, something Dr. Azim Shariff calls “effort moralization.”

Read More

Bats in Vancouver: UBC researchers to study secret city nightlife

Post Date: Jun 07, 2023

They live among us and eat pesky insects, but unless you’re armed with an ultrasonic microphone you may never notice our nocturnal neighbours: bats.

UBC researchers Dr. Matthew Mitchell (Faculty of Land and Food Systems) and Aaron Aguirre (Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability) want to bring these fascinating creatures out of the shadows, and will spend the summer collecting data on bats in Metro Vancouver.

They’re in a race against time: In early April, evidence of a deadly fungal disease called white-nose syndrome was found in B.C. for the first time.

We spoke with Mitchell and Aguirre about their study and why it matters.

Read More

How seaweed has been misleading scientists about reef health

Post Date: May 04, 2023

For decades, scientists have looked to seaweed as an indicator of the health of coral reefs lying underneath.

But what if the seaweed was misleading them?

New UBC research reveals it was, and scientists need new ways to determine whether human activity is harming a particular reef.

“This is especially critical today, given that reefs globally are threatened by climate-driven stressors,” said Dr. Sara Cannon, a postdoctoral fellow at the UBC Institute for the Oceans and Fisheries and the study’s lead author.

Read More

Nuclear medicine can cure cancer, and Canadian researchers are stepping up the fight

Post Date: Jun 07, 2023

A UBC-led team has received more than $23 million in federal funding to develop precision radiopharmaceuticals that promise to transform cancer treatment in Canada and beyond.

Radiation has been a staple of cancer treatment for decades, with approximately 50 per cent of cancer patients receiving radiation therapy at some point in their journey.

While effective, traditional radiation therapies rely on intense beams of energy shot from outside the body. These beams can kill cancer, but their use is limited to select locations, making them less suited for difficult-to-treat metastatic cancers that have spread to multiple sites.

Read More

Prenatal education by text message is working, UBC research shows

Post Date: Jun 07, 2023

Prenatal education isn’t what it used to be.

The days of expectant parents gathering in community centres to learn breathing techniques for labour were in decline even before smartphone apps came along to put such information at people’s fingertips. Pandemic prohibitions against group gatherings accelerated the trend.

Dr. Patricia Janssen

Read More

When employees leave their jobs, coworkers call it quits: UBC study

Post Date: Jun 07, 2023

People leave jobs all the time, whether they’re laid off, fired, or just quit. But how do their departures affect coworkers left behind? According to a new study from the UBC Sauder School of Business, those exits can lead many others to call it quits.

The researchers delved deeply into employment data from a major retailer that was experiencing high turnover to find out why. They reviewed data for roughly a million employees — including when they were hired, which store, which position, when they left, and why.

The study authors also had access to employee performance records, so they could evaluate whether workers were high performers or low performers.

Read More

Astronomers double the number of repeating cosmic probes

Post Date: Apr 26, 2023

A Canadian-led research team has doubled the number of repeating fast radio bursts, adding 25 new ‘cosmic probes’.

Fast radio bursts (FRBs) are cosmic radio signals: extremely short, energetic pulses of radio emission emanating from space. They’re an astronomical mystery, as scientists aren’t sure exactly what causes them and where they come from.

Read More

Innovative treatment targets blood clots without increased bleeding risk

Post Date: Jun 07, 2023

Safer and more effective blood thinners could be on the way following a groundbreaking discovery by researchers at UBC and the University of Michigan, published today in Nature Communications.

By combining their expertise in blood clotting systems and chemical synthesis, the researchers have designed a new compound called MPI 8 that offers the potential to prevent blood clots without any increased risk of bleeding—a common side effect of existing blood thinners.

Read More

German president’s visit to UBC highlights clean energy and climate change solutions

Post Date: Jun 07, 2023

The University of British Columbia today hosted Frank-Walter Steinmeier, the president of Germany, as part of his first official visit to Canada.

President Steinmeier toured UBC’s soon-to-open hydrogen research platform and met faculty of applied science researchers working on clean energy and climate change solutions, including engineers collaborating with German research institutions.

Dr. Deborah Buszard

Read More

UBC scholar combats climate change with happiness

Post Date: Jun 07, 2023

Dr. Jiaying Zhao

The prevailing narrative on the climate crisis—and how to address it—is at best bewildering and at worst downright depressing. We’re told we face a doom-and-gloom scenario, and the only way to solve it is to give up simple pleasures and conveniences.

Read More

Come for the selfie, stay for the sustainability

Post Date: Jun 07, 2023

UBC students built a hempcrete building that is one of the first ‘carbon-minimal’ institutional buildings in Canada. Bonus – it’s Instagram worthy

This week, UBC welcomes students into a vibrant new teaching and learning space that is one of Canada’s first institutional spaces designed to be near-zero embodied carbon. It’s also the first such building designed by students.

The bright and airy 2,400-sq.-ft. wood frame building, called Third Space Commons, emitted nearly-zero carbon emissions during construction, a feat that many view to be the final frontier facing carbon emissions reductions across the global building industry.

Read More

Simulating underwater eruptions reveals clues to hazards, including ‘surfing hot rock avalanches’

Post Date: Jun 07, 2023

New research into volcanic eruptions could help predict their hazards, including tsunamis and surfing hot rock avalanches.

Explosive research

Volcanic eruptions large enough to create a caldera, or cauldron-like hole, also create flows of volcanic ash and rock, and sometimes tsunamis. But we don’t really understand their behaviour and these resulting hazards.

A top view of a lab experiment simulating a large submarine eruption. Credit: Johan Gilchrist, UBC

Read More

Gay dads have an image problem

Post Date: Apr 05, 2023

From Neil Patrick Harris on our screens to U.S. transportation secretary Pete Buttigieg on the global stage, the emerging image of gay dads in North America is of white, affluent men. But this image isn’t accurate and has real-world implications for gay dads and their families, says one UBC expert.

Erez Aloni, associate professor in the Peter A. Allard School of Law, analyzed data about gay fathers in the U.S. and found there may be a systemic disparity in wealth accumulation among this group, a situation he says likely exists for Canadian fathers as well. Aloni discusses why this might exist and how solutions could help other populations grappling with wealth inequality.

Read More

Vaginal microbiome does not influence babies’ gut microbiome

Post Date: Jun 07, 2023

New University of British Columbia research is challenging a longstanding assumption that a baby’s gut microbiome is primarily shaped by their mother’s vaginal microbiome, while shedding new light on the factors that do influence its development.

When babies are born, their gut is a nearly sterile environment. But that quickly changes as the infant’s digestive tract becomes home to trillions of microbial cells throughout their early development. This gut microbiome is an important part of overall health and alterations early in life have been associated with negative health outcomes later on, including asthma and obesity.

Read More

Earth prefers to serve life in XXS and XXL sizes: UBC research

Post Date: Jun 07, 2023

Life comes in all shapes in sizes, but some sizes are more popular than others, new research from the University of British Columbia has found.

In the first study of its kind published today in PLOS ONE, Dr. Eden Tekwa, who conducted the study as a postdoctoral fellow at UBC’s department of zoology, surveyed the body sizes of all Earth’s living organisms, and uncovered an unexpected pattern. Contrary to what current theories can explain, our planet’s biomass—the material that makes up all living organisms—is concentrated in organisms at either end of the size spectrum.

Read More

UBC experts on Ozempic

Post Date: Mar 29, 2023

The B.C. government has announced measures to ensure an adequate supply of the diabetes drug semaglutide (Ozempic) in B.C. as demand in the U.S. surges.

UBC experts are available to comment.

Dr. Tom Elliott (he/him) Clinical Associate Professor, Department of Medicine Tel: 360-559-8520 Email: telliott@bcdiabetes.ca Interview language(s): English

Read More

New UBC water treatment zaps ‘forever chemicals’ for good

Post Date: Apr 16, 2023

Engineers at the University of British Columbia have developed a new water treatment that removes “forever chemicals” from drinking water safely, efficiently – and for good.

“Think Brita filter, but a thousand times better,” says UBC chemical and biological engineering professor Dr. Madjid Mohseni, who developed the technology.

Dr. Madjid Mohseni

Read More

Around the world, children’s education becoming more closely tied to their mother’s

Post Date: Mar 22, 2023

A new study has found that a mother’s educational status—the highest level of education that she has attained—plays an increasingly important role in shaping her children’s educational status, while the importance of the father’s educational status has declined.

Read More

Is AI coming for white-collar jobs? A psychology professor finds out the hard way

Post Date: Mar 10, 2023

Dr. Friedrich Götz

A UBC psychology professor wondered whether AI was smart enough to handle some of his workload. He was astonished to discover it could.

Read More

A new beginning for Afghan women judges forced to flee the Taliban

Post Date: Mar 08, 2023

Since the Taliban’s return to power in Afghanistan in August 2021, women judges throughout the country have lost their jobs, had their lives threatened, and have been forced to evacuate or go into hiding. Last March, the International Association of Women Judges published an open letter to the international community seeking assistance in evacuating and resettling women judges who remained in Afghanistan.

Read More

AI predicts cancer patient survival by reading doctor’s notes

Post Date: Mar 02, 2023

A team of researchers from the University of British Columbia and BC Cancer have developed an artificial intelligence (AI) model that predicts cancer patient survival more accurately and with more readily available data than previous tools.

Read More

UBC zoologist: We need to acknowledge climate change’s effects on wildlife—for our own good

Post Date: Mar 06, 2023

Dr. Kaitlyn Gaynor

As the United Nations marks World Wildlife Day on March 3, UBC zoology professor Dr. Kaitlyn Gaynor (she/her) discusses how climate change is affecting wildlife, and why that can spell bad news for humans and animals alike.

Read More

Midwifery care safe for moderate- and high-risk pregnancies

Post Date: Mar 02, 2023

New UBC research shows that midwives in British Columbia are providing safe primary care for pregnancies of all medical risk levels, contrary to a popular belief that midwives mostly manage low-risk pregnancies.

The study, published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, examined a decade of births in B.C. between 2008 and 2018. The researchers compared birth outcomes for people who had a midwife as their most responsible provider (MRP), with those who were cared for by a family physician or obstetrician.

Read More

So-called ‘safe’ pesticides have surprising ill effects

Post Date: Feb 21, 2023

Health Canada is currently reviewing regulations for pesticides in Canada, and three UBC researchers say regulators might want to consider what happened in Japan.

A lake in Shimane Prefecture has seen its commercial fishery collapse by more than 90 per cent since 1993, when insecticides known as neonicotinoids were first introduced to the area. It just so happens that zooplankton—the tiny creatures in the water that fish feed on—declined by 83 per cent during the same period.

That’s just one example of the unanticipated ripple effects of pesticides uncovered by UBC ecologists Dr. Risa Sargent, Dr. Juli Carrillo and Dr. Claire Kremen in their review of recent science.

Read More

Clouds could delay the impact of climate change on reefs – but not for long

Post Date: Feb 27, 2023

Clouds seem to offer some protection from excess heat to coral reefs – but most will still face frequent bleaching conditions by 2080, according to new research.

Life’s a bleach 

Corals turn white when the surrounding water gets too warm. This is called bleaching, and it leaves coral vulnerable to disease and mortality. Warming can occur due to climate change, as well as solar radiation. Some of this radiation can be absorbed by clouds.

Read More

Owners of the priciest properties in Vancouver pay very little income tax, UBC study finds

Post Date: Jan 27, 2023

A new study from UBC’s Sauder School of Business shows that owners of $3.7-million homes in Vancouver pay just $15,800 in income tax.

“They’re sitting on some of the most expensive real estate in North America, but owners of the priciest properties in Vancouver are paying extraordinarily little in income tax” said UBC Sauder associate professor Thomas Davidoff, who co-authored the study with Dr. Paul Boniface Akaabre from UBC’s school of community and regional planning and Dr. Craig Jones from UBC’s department of geography.

Read More

Traffic pollution impairs brain function

Post Date: Feb 08, 2023

First-in-the-world study suggests that even brief exposure to air pollution has rapid impacts on the brain

A new study by researchers at the University of British Columbia and the University of Victoria has shown that common levels of traffic pollution can impair human brain function in only a matter of hours.

Read More

UBC scholar’s Final Fantasy is a PhD in ludomusicology

Post Date: Jan 24, 2023

At the turn of the century, Marina Gallagher was a young piano student who played a lot of video games between piano lessons. The Final Fantasy series was her favourite.

Today, Gallagher (she/her) is a PhD candidate at the UBC School of Music whose thesis explores the music of the Final Fantasy series. She will speak next month at the 10th annual North American Conference on Video Game Music.

Gallagher’s field, ludomusicology, combines the study of games and gameplay (ludology) with the study of music (musicology). We spoke with her about her work.

Read More

Toxic toilet paper and long-lasting chemicals found in endangered killer whales

Post Date: Feb 06, 2023

This release was updated on Feb. 6, 2023 to reflect that 4-nonylphenol (4NP) is associated with toilet paper and found in sewage sludge and wastewater. A previous version stated that 4NP is used in the production of toilet paper.

A chemical associated with toilet paper and found in sewage sludge and industrial and municipal wastewater, as well as ‘forever chemicals’, have been found in the bodies of orcas in B.C., including the endangered southern resident killer whales.

Read More

Event: Unboxing of space-travelling yeast and algae

Post Date: Jan 10, 2023

Media are invited to capture the unveiling of two UBC science experiments that have circled the moon as part of NASA’s Artemis 1 lunar mission.

UBC pharmaceutical sciences researcher Dr. Corey Nislow, having hand-carried the samples back from Cape Canaveral, will discuss how space flight has changed baker’s yeast and algae cultures that nestled inside Artemis 1’s Orion capsule for 26 days in space.

Read More

B.C. sea sponge has COVID-blocking powers

Post Date: Jan 23, 2023

UBC researchers have identified three compounds that prevent COVID-19 infection in human cells, derived from natural sources including a B.C. sea sponge.

Dr. François Jean

The discovery paves the way for the development of new medicines for COVID-19 variants made from natural sources. And given nature’s abundance, there could be a wealth of new antivirals waiting to be discovered.

Read More

Most wildlife bridges are bear-ly wide enough

Post Date: Dec 19, 2022

Canadian researchers measured wildlife overpasses around the world and found 71 per cent in North America are narrower than recommended.

These bridges let bears and other creatures cross over busy highways, allowing animals to live and breed across their normal habitats—an important factor for biodiversity. Previous research has recommended a minimum width of 50 metres and a width-to-length ratio of 0.8 to ensure larger animals feel comfortable crossing.

Read More

UBC engineers want to save whales from drowning…in noise

Post Date: Jan 09, 2023

Chronic ship noise can lead to stress, hearing loss and feeding problems for marine mammals like whales, dolphins and porpoises. UBC researchers are diving in to help address the issue.

According to project lead Dr. Rajeev Jaiman, an associate professor in the department of mechanical engineering, propeller noise accounts for much of the acoustic barrage from ships.

“Propeller noise can hit 170 decibels, the equivalent of a jet engine or a rocket lift-off,” said Dr. Jaiman.

Read More

From COVID-19 to the common cold: UBC scientists identify broadly effective, infection-halting compound

Post Date: Dec 15, 2022

Researchers at UBC’s Life Sciences Institute have identified a compound that shows early promise at halting infections from a range of coronaviruses, including all variants of SARS-CoV-2 and the common cold.

Dr. Yossef Av-Gay

The findings, published this week in Molecular Biomedicine, reveal a potential path toward antiviral treatments that could be used against many different pathogens.

Read More

New branch on tree of life includes ‘lions of the microbial world’

Post Date: Dec 07, 2022

There’s a new branch on the tree of life and it’s made up of predators that nibble their prey to death.

These microbial predators fall into two groups, one of which researchers have dubbed “nibblerids” because they, well, nibble chunks off their prey using tooth-like structures. The other group, nebulids, eat their prey whole. And both comprise a new ancient branch on the tree of life called “Provora,” according to a paper published today in Nature.

Read More