B.C. Brain Gain

About 42 per cent of UBC’s new faculty members come from across Canada, 46 per cent are from the United States and 12 per cent are from other parts of the world.  UBC also has about 250 new postdoctoral fellows arriving each year. Here are some of the bright minds coming from outside of Canada.

Faculty of Science, Vancouver
Sujatha Ramdorai, coming from Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Mumbai, India

New UBC position: Professor, Department of Mathematics; Canada Research Chair, Mathematics

Area of research: Non-commutative Iwasawa theory. Algebraic theory of quadratic forms. Study of motives.

“I first visited UBC for around ten days as guest of Professor Nike Vatsal. I fell in love with the campus at first sight. My interactions with faculty members at UBC Math and researchers at the Pacific Institute for the Mathematical Sciences were also positive. I liked the fact that there were many young researchers in the department and that it seemed to function well as a team.”

Faculty of Medicine, Vancouver
Matthew Farrer, coming from Mayo Clinic, Jacksonville, Florida; originally from the U.K.

New UBC position:
Professor, Department of Medical Genetics; Canada Excellence Research Chair in Neurogenetics and Translational Neuroscience

Distinctions: One of the youngest investigators to be named the Mayo Clinic’s Distinguished Investigator; member of Michael J. Fox Foundation’s Scientific Advisory Board
Little known fact: Born in an English pub

“Despite remarkable discoveries throughout the last century about the brain’s anatomy and functions, we know far less about how best to intervene when these functions become disordered or diseased. We have achieved some remarkable insights, thanks in part to the hundreds of families who donated their DNA, thus enabling us to identify the genes involved in devastating nervous system disorders such as Parkinson’s disease, the most prevalent age-associated movement disorder.

However, finding gene mutations is not enough. If we are to successfully intervene, we have to understand the role of the encoded protein and the network that is perturbed, or at least be able to model these processes. My objective is to use these insights to protect the brain and nervous system. For the first time since the 60’s, there is hope for a Parkinson’s treatment that goes beyond ameliorating a patient’s symptoms, and actually reverses the disease.

I’m confident that the multidisciplinary collaborations at the Centre for Molecular Medicine and Therapeutics and the Brain Research Centre, coupled with UBC’s enviable track record of successful knowledge transfer, will speed this process along, so that our renewed hope will be realized.

Faculty of Education, Vancouver
Kathryn Ferguson, (Canadian) coming from the ARC Centre of Excellence in Coral Reef Studies James Cook University, Townsville, Australia

New UBC position: Postdoctoral Fellow, Faculty of Education Centre for Cross-Faculty Inquiry

Area of research: A critical examination of how the perceived ‘nature’ of the west coast marine environment has shifted at different times in Canada’s history, and specifically how representations of deviance and violence have altered through the course of those shifts.

“The Center for Cross-Faculty Inquiry, in the Faculty of Education at UBC, offers an innovative interdisciplinary scholarly milieu where complex questions concerning culture, media and pedagogical narration can be rigorously pursued beyond the breadth and depth of traditional disciplinary divides.  I will be working on ‘Rough Water:  Sensationalising Canada’s Pacific Marine Environment.’ This is an important component in a larger program of research examining the dynamic relationships between humans, narration and the underwater world.”

Faculty of Land and Food Systems, Vancouver
Ronaldo Luís Aoki Cerri, (Brazilian) coming from University of Florida

New UBC position: Assistant Professor in Animal Reproduction at the FLFS

Area of research: Embryo and fetal development, and related aspects of animal health and nutrition on reproduction of dairy cattle

“The combination of talented researchers, outstanding infrastructure at the Dairy Education and Research Centre, and a strong dairy industry offers a unique environment to conduct research in animal reproduction at UBC. Create a strong research program and provide excellence in teaching are my major goals for this position.”

Faculty of Arts, Vancouver
Beth Hirsh, coming from Cornell University

New UBC position: Assistant Professor of Sociology

Area of research: Employment discrimination, gender and racial inequality, law and social policy

“I was attracted to UBC by the balanced focus on research and teaching, a very active group of colleagues, and the beautiful setting in Vancouver, BC. By coming to UBC, I hope to attain a more comparative and cross-national perspective on inequality and employment issues.”