UBC Reports | Vol. 50 | No. 4| Apr.
Undergraduate Students Conduct Research Too
By Michelle Cook
If you thought graduate students were the only ones on campus
doing all the hard-hitting research, think again. This year’s
Multidisciplinary Undergraduate Research Conference showcased
90 projects conducted by undergraduates.
Topics ranged from a study of anorexia nervosa in Victorian
England to a look at pediatric injuries in modern-day Pakistan.
Awards were given for the best research presentations, and
a full list of winners can be found at http://www.research.ubc.ca/students/conf-upcoming.htm.
Here’s a quick peek at some of the other subjects
undergraduates tackled this year.
If you go out in the woods today, you may be in for a big
surprise. Integrated Sciences student Jana Sebelova drew on
her interest in ethnobotany and a love of mushroom hunting
cultivated while growing up in the Czech Republic for her
exploration of the antibiotic potential of some of B.C.’s
estimated 10,000 mushroom and fungi species. Sebelova collected
samples of almost 200 Pacific Northwest mushrooms to get a
better understanding of the prevalence of antibiotic compounds
in local fungi, and their distribution across fungal genera.
The results astounded her. Almost 20 per cent of the 195 species
sampled showed some antimicrobial activities. “It blows
my mind to even think of all the amazing fungi out there that
just might produce the next great antibiotic,” Sebelova
Hippy Hippy Shake
Metal and materials engineering students Trevor Pearce,
Leon Chow, Frankie Wong and Shawn Wu constructed an analytical
model of a prosthetic hip joint to try and to predict the
life span of an implant based on the materials used to make
it and the patient’s level of activity, weight and other
factors. The team’s foray into the field of biomedical
engineering found that an implant’s life span is affected
by these factors and they’re recommending that an interdisciplinary
database of material and patient data be constructed for use
in future studies on retrieved implants.
The Case of Kimberly Rogers
Kat Kinch was just learning about the Canadian Charter of
Rights and Freedoms when Kimberly Rogers died in Sudbury in
2001. Rogers was eight months pregnant and under the terms
of her sentence for welfare fraud, confined to her apartment
in a heat wave. Her death sparked nationwide media coverage.
Kinch, now a third-year Law student, documented Rogers case
from her sentence to her inquest and analyzed it for specific
human rights violations.
She found that, despite strong evidence that banning people
convicted of welfare fraud from receiving future benefits
regardless of the need was a harmful policy, the policy remained
in effect in Ontario until there was a change of government.
In B.C., similar regulations were put in place even after
Kimberly Rogers died, with no consideration of Charter rights
to life, security of the person and equality.
I say, could you please pass the salt?
It’s well known that the Victorian era was a period
of extravagant entertaining for the upper-middle and high
classes of England but few have analysed the social role that
elaborate Victorian food rituals played. Through an examination
of the work of Isabella Beeton, the era’s brightest
culinary star, history student Ginnie Mathers explored the
complex social purpose of the Victorian dinner party.
She found that the highly refined food rituals of the late
1800s created a civilized and sophisticated identity for upper
class Victorians designed to counterbalance the primal and
physical characteristics of food consumption. The complicated
system of dining manners, rules and menus masked basic human
instincts and passions, and differentiated them from the savage
act of “eating” carried out by the lower classes.