UBC in the news

Highlights of UBC media coverage in January 2010.  compiled by Heather Amos

Sunflower DNA Map Could Produce Plants for Fuel

The Associated Press reported that UBC botany professor Loren Rieseberg is leading a $10.5 million research project aimed at mapping the DNA sequence of sunflowers.

Researchers envision crossbreeding a standard sunflower with the Silverleaf species to produce a hybrid with tasty seeds and thick stalks filled with complex sugars that can be turned into ethanol.

United Press International, The Vancouver Sun and Science Daily also reported on this story.

Vancouver B.C. museums offer world-class riches

Vancouver’s Museum of Anthropology, on UBC campus, has undergone a $55.5-million renovation and The Seattle Times reports on the new exhibit and galleries.

The Globe and Mail, the CBC, The Vancouver Sun and The Province wrote about the renovations and “Border Zones: New Art Across Cultures,” a contemporary show featuring artists from Malaysia, England, Sri Lanka, France, Canada, Samoa and Australia.

Olympics have no impact on real estate

Research by Tsur Somerville, a professor in real estate, and Jake Wetzel, PhD candidate, found that cities hosting the Olympics experience neither boom nor bust in real estate prices, United Press International reported this month.

Toronto Star, The Vancouver Sun and Metro were among the media outlets that picked up on the study that analyzed house prices and construction employment in the years leading up to and after the Olympics in Australian, Canadian and U.S. cities.

“We do not find support for the argument of host city backers that the Olympics delivers positive economic benefits, nor of the arguments made by opponents that there is some post-Olympic bust,” said Somerville.

Olympic secrets revealed

Maclean’s, The Vancouver Sun, GlobalTV and the CBC reported on Savvas Hatzikiriakos’ and Sheldon Green’s Own The Podium research.

Hatzikiriakos’ team developed friction-reducing metal and plastic surfaces for skates, skis and snowboards that are expected to boost Canada’s medal count at the Vancouver 2010 Olympics.

“Canada in the previous Olympic Games won a lot of fourth places,” said Hatzikiriakos, a chemical and biological engineering professor at UBC. “We thought that slightly improving the times we could push them to the podium positions.”

Light shed on fish gill mystery

Research by UBC’s Clarice Fu suggests that fish evolved gills for the purpose of regulating the chemicals in their bodies and not for breathing, BBC News reported this month.

The study found that as rainbow trout larvae matured, fish gills regulated the chemicals in their blood before they took in oxygen.

“We found that ion uptake shifted from the skin to the gills earlier than oxygen uptake. This led us to propose that the gills are needed for ion regulation earlier than they are needed for oxygen uptake,” said Fu.

The Telegraph, ScienceNOW, and Süddeutschen reported versions of this story.