UBC Home Page -
UBC Home Page -
UBC Home Page UBC Home Page -
News Events Directories Search UBC myUBC Login
- -
UBC Public Affairs
UBC Reports
UBC Reports Extras
Goal / Circulation / Deadlines
Letters to the Editor & Opinion Pieces / Feedback
UBC Reports Archives
Media Releases
Services for Media
Services for the Community
Services for UBC Faculty & Staff
Find UBC Experts
Search Site

UBC Reports | Vol. 52 | No. 1 | Jan. 9, 2006

The Next Big Thing

UBC Experts Give us a Peek at Our Future

For many, New Year's marks a time to reflect on new possibility. In this spirit, UBC Reports asked a range of UBC experts to tell us about the Next Big Thing that will have an impact on our lives.

You'll be fascinated by their forecasts. From “conscious” robotic cars, to the discovery of a planet capable of life, to eliminating the need for blood donors -- the novel, the progressive and the previously inconceivable are already on our doorstep, according to these leading minds. Here is a summary of their comments.

New Gene Therapies

Elizabeth M. Simpson, Senior Scientist, Centre for Molecular Medicine & Therapeutics

Advances in gene therapy hold the promise of important new therapeutic benefits for brain disorders such as Alzheimer and Parkinson Disease, even though for most individual patients we don’t know the causative genes.

“Conscious” Cars

Alan Mackworth, Professor, Department of Computer Science

Thanks to recent technological breakthroughs, we are on the verge of seeing “conscious” vehicles. Imagine cars that are aware of their surroundings, able to plan a route and drive it safely while obeying traffic signs and avoiding obstacles. Or wheelchairs that are aware of the layout of a house, and able to learn about pet cats and dogs.

Prescription Pets

Stanley Coren, Professor, Department of Psychology

Will physicians soon be “prescribing” pet dogs to the elderly? Current research may soon uncover a breakthrough in our understanding of how pets can significantly extend the health and well-being of the elderly.

Discovering Terra Nova

Jaymie Matthews, Associate Professor, Department of Physics and Astronomy

In the next 10 years, astronomers have a strong chance of discovering a planet that has the right characteristics to allow for life, thanks to new ways of “seeing” planets, and space telescopes like Canada's MOST space telescope, already searching for terra nova.

Genes, Environment and Health

Dr. Clyde Hertzman, Director, Human Early Learning Partnership

You can’t blame it on your genes, after all. The growing field of epigenetics will turn thinking on its head that genes destine people to pre-determined outcomes. We will soon learn how environmental influences cause some genes to be expressed, and others not, in ways that make a significant difference for human health.

Artificial Blood Platelets

Dr. Ross MacGillivray, Director, Centre for Blood Research and Dr. Dana Devine, Professor, Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine

The next big breakthrough in blood transfusion research will be increased availability of platelets that will make crisis-driven blood donor drives a thing of the past. Eventually, artificial platelets may eliminate the need for blood donors altogether.

New Ethics for Global Media

Stephen Ward, Associate Professor, School of Journalism

The globalization of media will spur a transformation of ethics. Principles of objectivity will have to be redefined, as will duties of journalists to understand how jingoistic, biased or patriotic reporting might inflame conflict, rather than build understanding.

Education Goes Mobile

Veronica Gaylie, Assistant Professor, UBC Okanagan Faculty of Education

The future will see more teaching and learning outside the four walls of the traditional classroom. That is, the movement in interdisciplinary teaching and learning, combined with greater access to mobile technology, will increasingly move students toward community and environmentally based education.

Fuel Cells

David Wilkinson, Professor, Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering

Fuel cells will play an important role in energy sustainability and global climate change, two of the biggest issues for the 21st century. Fuel cells are poised at roughly the same place as personal computers were a few decades ago, and we’ll soon see them in handheld electronic devices, PCs and other portable devices.

- - -  

Last reviewed 22-Sep-2006

to top | UBC.ca » UBC Public Affairs

UBC Public Affairs
310 - 6251 Cecil Green Park Road, Vancouver, BC Canada V6T 1Z1
tel 604.822.3131 | fax 604.822.2684 | e-mail public.affairs@ubc.ca

© Copyright The University of British Columbia, all rights reserved.