UBC in the News Nov. 2009

Ocean Lady a ‘wake-up call’

When an unflagged ship bearing the name Ocean Lady arrived at British Columbia’s shores in October, international media turned to UBC Law Prof. Benjamin Perrin for analysis.

Perrin, also a faculty fellow at the Liu Institute for Global Issues, told the Globe and Mail he suspects the passengers may have paid tens of thousands of dollars for passage from Sri Lanka.

“The unfolding story strongly suggests that this incident is part of a sophisticated international migrant-smuggling network,” he said.

Perrin told CTV that identifying these migrants accurately is a heavy responsibility.

“A post- conflict scenario creates a real opportunity for terrorists, war criminals and former combatants to simply blend in with civilians.”

Perrin also spoke to Agence France-Presse.

UBC takes women’s field hockey title

The UBC Thunderbirds won a record-setting 12th CIS women’s field hockey title last month with a 6-0 gold-medal win over the Alberta Pandas, TSN reported.

The Thunderbirds’ triumph is their first since 2006 and gives them one more McCrae Cup championship than the University of Victoria and two more than Toronto.

“This is the game we’ve been dreaming of,” Robyn Pendleton told TSN. “It’s a pretty good way to finish a season. As a team we did really well and we finished our opportunities, which ultimately made all the difference.”

Men and arousal

Fox News reported on a recent study from UBC that found that while most men can regulate their physical and mental sexual arousal to some degree, the men most able to do so are able to control their other emotions as well.

“We suspect that if an individual is good at regulating one type of emotional response, he/she is probably good at regulating other emotional responses,” said Jason Winters, the study’s research head, told the Live Science wire service. “This has never been shown before.”

Participants had to control their response to 16 randomly ordered video clips, half of them erotic, the other half funny. The study found that the men who were best able to control their response to the pornographic videos were also able to control their response to the funny video.

Winters said the next step is to do a similar study with sexual offenders. “I suspect that sexual offenders will generally be very poor regulators, and that poor regulation is one of the factors that contributes to their offending,” he said.

The thesis goes online

The Globe and Mail reported on an ambitious project at UBC that will see more than 33,500 master’s theses and doctoral dissertations put online.

“You never know what is going to be of interest to someone somewhere somehow down the road,” university archivist Christopher Hives told the newspaper.

Since the fall of 2007, postgraduate students have been able to file their theses and dissertations electronically, a process Hives compares with filing income tax online.

Diet speeds healing

Researchers have found a diet high in fat and low in carbohydrates speeds recovery in rats with spinal cord injuries, UPI reported.

Dr. Wolfram Tetzlaff of the University of British Columbia told the wire service a diet high in fat and low in carbohydrates, known as the “ketogenic” diet, is already used as a therapy for epilepsy.

Previous research showed fasting is beneficial after partial cervical spinal cord injury in rats, but the strategy was unpopular with patients and clinicians, Tetzlaff said. The researchers investigated the ketogenic diet as a fasting alternative because, as in fasting, a lack of carbohydrates forces the body to use fat as fuel.