A yeast for all seasons — and temperatures

Yeast can generate a range of different flavors and aromas. Photo: Istock.A yeast for all seasons — and temperaturesGenomic techniques are making it easier to identify the most interesting strains of yeast for beer production. UBC geneticist Karissa Milbury is working to literally light the way to a more delicious brew.By Karissa Milbury, Postdoctoral Fellow at Renaissance BioScience and the University of British ColumbiaFrom ancient Mesopotamian to modern-day craft businesses, brewers have honed their skills in transforming wort — a sugary,…

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Accelerating access to an elusive medical isotope

Andrew Robertson at TRIUMF, Canada’s national particle accelerator centre. Photo: TRIUMF.Supplies of Ac-225 — a potential cancer-fighting isotope — are so scarce doctors have to scavenge decades-old nuclear weapons to produce it.By Andrew Robertson, University of British Columbia PhD Candidate in Physics and TRIUMF Science AmbassadorWhen you think of people working in health care, you think of doctors and nurses. Maybe you also think of a chemist working to develop new drugs. Physicists usually don’t come to mind. I first studied…

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How scientists and planners work together to keep winter roads safe

UBC scientists generate weather models which are then used by local transportation authorities. (Istockphoto)Tucked away at UBC’s Vancouver campus, atmospheric scientists armed with computer clusters are helping smooth out British Columbian’s winter commute.By Timothy Chui and Rosie Howard, UBC Department of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric SciencesFew things bring Vancouverites together more quickly than collectively grumbling over a centimetre or two of snow. It’s an occurrence that that can bring the city — and its vehicles — to a screeching halt.…

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Finding strength in numbers

UBC’s Diversity in Mathematics workshops seek to spur an interest in STEM careers. Photo: Istockphoto.Mentorship is a crucial part of STEM retention efforts, especially for women, Indigenous youth and recent immigrants.By Silvia Moreno-GarciaAs an undergraduate student in India, UBC mathematician Malabika Pramanik was one of two women in a cohort of 25. When she moved to North America, she became a visible minority, an immigrant adapting to a new culture. The sense of isolation was…

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The sad, disappearing act of Mediterranean sharks

The shortfin mako is the fastest species of shark. Photo: Istockphoto.The tragic disappearing act of Mediterranean sharksConservationists trying to save the shortfin mako are working blind. UBC researcher Madeline Cashion is trying to change that.By Madeline Cashion, UBC Institute for the Oceans and FisheriesThe fastest shark in the ocean is also among the tastiest and most threatened.The shortfin mako (Isurus oxyrinchus) is a large shark of the Lamnidae family, which also contains the great white. It’s…

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The eight creepiest bug specimens at UBC

We realize technically spiders are not bugs, but just look at this poster.By Koby Michaels, Assistant Editor, FocusHollywood has a long history of combining insects (tipically gigantic ones) with horror stories, and Halloween is full of spider costumes, plastic scorpions and gummy worms. Therefore we decided to celebrate this spooky holiday by combing through the Beaty Biodiversity Museum’s Spencer Entomological Collection to find the creepiest and crawliest bugs UBC’s Vancouver campus has to offer.The collection, which dates back…

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Scared of first-year calculus? Just grow with it

Calculus is the first step into a rich mathematical and personal exploration. Photo: Istockphoto.First-year calculus isn’t what you imagine. It can be the ultimate gateway to personal growth and critical thinking.By Stephanie van Willigenburg, UBC Department of Mathematics“Why do I have to take first-year calculus? I’ll never use anything I learn in that class!” is a lament I often hear as a math professor. My response: You’re wrong.Sure, first-year classes are gateways to more focused upper-level…

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Dive into the mysterious connection between malaria and coral reefs

Photo: Patrick Keeling.By Patrick Keeling, UBC Department of BotanyFor most of us, microbes mean only one thing: disease. Disease-causing microbes are actually the extreme minority of the most abundant form of life on Earth. But because of their immediate and direct importance to our health, they are much better studied than the rest of the microbial world. Still, new discoveries about the basic biology and evolution of some of the most infamous pathogens can throw us a…

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Could a deadly mushroom help battle cancer?

Amanita phalloides. Photo: Flickr, stanze.University of British Columbia chemists are working to unleash the cancer fighting potential of Amanita phalloides — a particularly nasty poison shroomBy Silvia Moreno-GarciaInfamous. That might be the best description for Amanita phalloides. The highly toxic mushroom has been feared for centuries, earning it a spot in mystery novels (the mushroom did it) and history books (Roman Emperor Claudius was supposedly poisoned with it). Despite its deadly history, Amanita phalloides remains the cause of 90…

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How an imperfect diamond led to a perfect scientific discovery

Diamond ‘imperfections’ can provide information about their formation and the Earth’s structure. Photo: Istockphoto.By Maya Kopylova, UBC Department of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric SciencesThe value of diamonds is determined by how big, bright and flawless they are. But these aren’t the most valuable diamonds to me. When I look at diamonds, I’m hunting for inclusions — mineral imperfections caught deep within the diamond like a mosquito stuck in amber. Just like the mosquito in Jurassic Park contained…

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