In the news

Rembrandt’s art was a science, study finds

A new study by UBC researcher Steve DiPaola suggests that the Dutch painter Rembrandt pioneered scientific techniques that guide the viewer’s gaze around a painting, making them linger longer.

DiPaola explains that Rembrandt captured the viewer’s attention by placing a sharper focus on a specific area, as was reported in the Globe and Mail, CBC, CTV, The Vancouver Sun and others.

Eye-tracking determined that viewers fixated on the area in sharper focus more quickly and stayed longer, resulting in “calmer eye movements,” says DiPaola.

$2.4M study for controversial MS treatment

The National Post, CTV, The Vancouver Sun, CBC and others reported on a $2.4-million, two-year research study by a team of Canadian and American doctors to look at whether a controversial treatment for multiple sclerosis is legitimate.

The teams will assess whether a syndrome known as chronic cerebrospinal venous insufficiency (CCSVI) has a role in MS. The study follows the claims of Italian doctor Paulo Zamboni, who says that a relatively minor treatment for CCSVI has had beneficial results with MS patients.

“We’re planning on doing diagnostic studies to confirm how common is this CCSVI phenomenon,” said Dr. Anthony Traboulsee, who is heading up a group from UBC, Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute and the University of Saskatchewan.

Regional differences in C-section rate not a result of maternal request

United Press International, The Vancouver Sun and other Canwest papers reported on a study led by Gillian Hanley, a doctoral student at UBC, that found that the increase in Caesarean section births is not due to maternal requests.

“There is a misconception that the overall increase of Caesarean births is the result of maternal request,” says Hanley. “Our analysis of British Columbia data shows that this is not the case.”

The study finds there are significant regional variations in the number of Caesarean births across British Columbia. They suggest further research is needed into why institutions differ in their responses to similar conditions.

UBC’s Okanagan campus doubles in size

The Vancouver Sun, Business in Vancouver, the Daily Courier and other media outlets reported that UBC’s Okanagan campus will double in size.  It will purchase 104 hectares of mostly hayfields from the City of Kelowna for $8.8 million.

The property will become part of UBC’s endowment lands in perpetuity “for the benefit of the research mission, the teaching mission and all the aspirations that make universities great,” said Brad Bennett, the former chairman of the UBC Board of Governors.

Canada’s top science prize awarded

Graham Scott was one of two UBC researchers who were among this year’s winners of the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada’s top science and engineering awards.

Scott won the $20,000 prize for his work in advancing respiratory physiology and helping researchers understand enhanced athletic performance.

Diane Srivastava, who works in the zoology department at UBC, won the E.W.R. Steacie Memorial Fellowship and a grant worth $250,000 for her work exploring the impact species have on their ecosystem

The National Post, CBC and The Vancouver Sun reported on the 18 awards that were handed out by the council, including Canada’s most prestigious award for scientists, the Herzberg Gold Medal. UBC researcher Stephen Withers was one of two runners-up for this prize.

UBC wins women’s title

The women’s golf team from UBC picked up their seventh Canadian University/College Championship in eight years at Kingswood Park in Fredericton this month, as was reported in the Globe and Mail, The Chronicle Herald, The Winnipeg Free Press and the Daily Gleaner.

In the women’s individual competition, UBC’s Kylie Barros came second to the University of Victoria’s Anne Balser. Taking third place was Jocelyn Alford from UBC. On the men’s side, UBC finished second behind Université Laval.