Protein potential

We focus much of our attention on genes, but proteins hold valuable information. Here, chemist Jason Rogalski stands next to a mass spectrometer. Photo: Paul Joseph/UBC.From breeding better bees, to improving spinal cord injury treatment, to helping solve crimes. The power of proteomics is just coming into focus.By Silvia Moreno-GarciaProtein analysis is a bit like studying a stellar object with space probes. Since the 1930s, Pluto was a fuzzy, grainy image, until New Horizons provided a…

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No flying pigs allowed

Margo Seltzer.Whether it’s databases, AI, fake news, file systems or chamber music, computer scientist Margo Seltzer likes to connect the disparate — while keeping it grounded.You can almost see the ideas bounce around the room when you chat with Margo Seltzer. They zoom, back and forth on interesting tangents. Recently, the UBC computer scientist learned that part of teaching chamber music at UBC means showing musicians how to work effectively as a group. Now Seltzer is wondering…

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A yeast for all seasons — and temperatures

Beer’s flavour is a question of chemistry. 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 Mesopotamia to modern-day craft businesses, brewers have honed their skills in transforming wort — a sugary, steeped plant matter — into…

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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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