News + Announcements

Online game trains players how to sort waste correctly

Post Date: Dec 13, 2018

A simple online game can teach people to more accurately sort waste—with lasting results, a new UBC study has found.

Study participants who played the game developed by UBC researchers received immediate feedback on their sorting choices. The second time they played—when feedback was no longer provided—players still improved their average accuracy from 69 per cent to 84 per cent. Even when a week passed between games, players still improved their accuracy.

As part of the study, researchers also exposed students living in university residences to the game, then monitored their waste bins. They observed both a slight reduction in contamination—defined as the presence of items that shouldn’t be in a particular bin—and an increase in compost weight.

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Industrial fisheries are starving seabirds all around the world

Post Date: Dec 13, 2018

Industrial fisheries are starving seabirds like penguins and terns by competing for the same prey sources, new research from the French National Center for Scientific Research in Montpellier and the Sea Around Us initiative at the University of British Columbia has found.

In a study published today in Current Biology, researchers found that annual seabird food consumption decreased from 70 to 57 million tonnes between 1970 and 2010. Meanwhile, fisheries increased their catches of potential seabird prey from an average of 59 million tonnes in the 1970s and 80s to 65 million tonnes per year in recent years.

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Dairy calves’ personalities predict their ability to cope with stress

Post Date: Dec 11, 2018

A UBC study published earlier this year found that dairy calves have distinct personality traits from a very young age. Researchers from the faculty of land and food systems tested calves for pessimism, fearfulness and sociability at both 25 and 50 days old, and learned that each calf has an inherent outlook that changes little with the passing of time.

Now the researchers have followed up that study by examining those same calves at four months of age, to find out how their personality traits govern their reactions to real-world situations.

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New review highlights importance of good sleep routines for children

Post Date: Dec 05, 2018

Sleep hygiene—which includes practices like providing a cool and quiet sleeping environment or reading before bedtime to help kids unwind—is increasingly popular among parents looking to ensure their children get a good night’s rest.

But are these practices all they’re cracked up to be? UBC sleep expert and nursing professor Wendy Hall recently led a review of the latest studies to find out.

In this Q&A, she talks about which practices seem to be consistently effective, and which ones require further study.

What is sleep hygiene and why is it important?

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Majority of Canadians view physical inactivity as a serious public health issue

Post Date: Dec 05, 2018

Physical inactivity is nearly on par with unhealthy diets and tobacco use as a public health concern among Canadians, a new UBC study has found.

Approximately 55 per cent of respondents in a national survey of 2,519 people rated physical inactivity as a serious public health concern, compared with 58 per cent for unhealthy diets and 57 per cent for tobacco use.

The study was the first known effort to examine what the researchers call the “social climate”—society’s feelings, attitudes, beliefs and opinions—surrounding physical inactivity in Canada.

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Newly discovered wasp turns social spiders into zombies

Post Date: Dec 04, 2018

It sounds like the plot of the world’s tiniest horror movie: deep in the Ecuadorian Amazon, a newly discovered species of wasp transforms a “social” spider into a zombie-like drone that abandons its colony to do the wasp’s bidding.

That’s the gruesome, real-life discovery by University of British Columbia researchers, who detail the first example of a manipulative relationship between a new Zatypota species wasp and a social Anelosimus eximius spider in a study published recently in Ecological Entomology.

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New China and US studies back use of pulse oximeters for assessing blood pressure

Post Date: Dec 04, 2018

Fast and easy blood pressure monitoring could soon be at your fingertips—literally—thanks to new University of British Columbia research that showed BP can be assessed by a fingertip oximeter, a tool not generally used for that purpose.

“We found that the oximeter, which clips on to a finger or toe to measure heart rate and the amount of oxygen in the blood, can detect normal, elevated or high blood pressure with up to 95 per cent accuracy,” said lead researcher Mohamed Elgendi, an adjunct professor of electrical and computer engineering at UBC.

“This suggests that it can, with a few tweaks, do double duty as a BP monitor in the future.”

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