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UBC Reports Oct 6, 2005

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VOLUME  51   I  NUMBER   10  I   OCTOBER  6,2005
2 UBC in the News 4 Portugal's Highest Honour 6 Marijuana and Youth
6 Robotic Cat 7 Learning Exchange
3-D Gaming Brings Classics to Life
Students' brainchild allows learners to enter world of Plato
What gets UBC classics graduate
Michael Griffin really stoked is the
idea of providing people with an
experience much like the popular
game, The Sims — where players
assume cyber characters — but all
set in antiquity's great cities of
Athens, Rome or Babylon.
"It would be quite fun and exciting, where hundreds or thousands
of people can interact in the simulated society, simulated economies
and politics of the ancient world,"
muses Griffin. "For example, we've
always wondered how the
Athenians, despite being desperately
outnumbered by the Persians, won
the Battle of Marathon in 490 BC.
"Well, with Ancient Spaces you
could enter that battle and solve the
Ancient Spaces is a UBC website
and innovative teaching tool created
by Griffin and Jo McFetridge, who
graduated with a MA in classical
archeology, and Dieter Buys, a computer science student with a passion
for online gaming.
During 2003, Griffin, McFetridge
and Buys were all working as summer staff at the Faculty of Arts IT
help desk. They hatched the idea of
using 3-D gaming technology to
animate long-ago worlds. For
example, students could design virtual replicas of Acropolis structures
instead of just reading about them.
"The idea is to put ourselves in
the shoes of an architect, philosopher, priest or playwright in ancient
Rome and Greece," says Griffin.
During fall 2003, the three students proposed Ancient Spaces to
Shirley Sullivan, then head of the
Dept. of Classical Studies, Near
Eastern and Religious Studies.
Michael Griffin envisions students creating and sharing their 3-D virtual models of ancient Rome, or Greece.
Sullivan immediately backed the
project. The initiative also won over
Ulrich Rauch, Director, Arts
Instructional Support and
Information Technology (ISIT),
who gave $10,000 seed money.
At that point they hired professional IT modelers to create basic
building blocks, explains Griffin.
"These were like 'Lego' pieces so
students wouldn't get bogged down
in the technology. They could
quickly master the basics and start
To use the program, students
start by viewing a 3-D representation of the Agora, the marketplace
and heart of ancient Athens, as
empty terrain. They choose a site
for their buildings and click on an
icon to create a round or geometric
shape. Users then fine-tune the
structure's proportions, surface and
lighting. To decorate the
interiors, students can select from a
diverse inventory of 40 objects that
include vases, bread, coins, beds and
During 2003 to 2004, the Dept.
of Classical, Near Eastern and
Religious Studies successfully piloted
Ancient Spaces. Eighteen first-year
students produced virtual models of
eight Agora buildings, among them
the mint, museum and theatre.
"This brings a wonderful channel
of learning that's in tune with kids
who have grown up in a video game
society," says Dietmar Neufeld, the
department's associate head.
"Not everyone learns in the same
way so this approach really works
well for visual or auditory learners,"
says Neufeld, whose strong support
helped the project garner a $31,000
UBC Teaching Learning
Enhancement Fund grant.
He says the hands-on approach of
Ancient Spaces requires students to
present a rationale for their designs.
"Students realize quickly that it's not
continued on page 4
Boom or Bust: Hard on Miners' Health
A new study links prosperity to health in B.C. mining towns. BY HI L A RY THOMSON
Silvana Costa and other UBC Bridge Program students are interested in the
health of mining town residents.
It's either boom or bust. Extreme economic cycles are a
fact of life for residents of many B.C. mining towns, but
how do these shifts in prosperity affect the health of
That's what an interdisciplinary team of UBC
researchers wants to find out. In a three-year study
funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research
(CIHR), they will look at how risk of cardiovascular
disease, mental disorders and sexually transmitted
infections (STIs) are linked to economic indicators in B.C.
mining communities.
"We hope to provide the mining industry with baseline
data they can use to include community issues as part of
sustainability planning," says Mieke Koehoorn, an
assistant professor of Health Care and Epidemiology
and principal investigator on the study. "We're looking
at both short-term and long-term health effects and how
economic cycles affect the entire mining community."
Students in the Bridge Program, a UBC interdisciplinary graduate fellowship program, prepared the CIHR
proposal as part of their course work. Some students in
the group had a background in mining engineering and
knew that research into health effects was needed. This is
the first study in Canada that relates economic indicators
to health outcomes in mining communities.
Negar Elmieh, a third-year PhD candidate at UBC's
Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability,
is co-investigator on the study.
"This project interests me because it means working
with an interdisciplinary group," says Elmieh, who is a
Bridge Fellow. "A diverse team of investigators allows for
a much more comprehensive study that examines the
real pressures a mining community can face."
Mining is the second largest industry in B.C. It directly employs more than 6,500 people and generated $4
billion in revenue in 2003, according to the Mining
Association of British Columbia.
The first part of the study involves creating a B.C.
Mining Health Atlas.  Investigators will study anonymous health data of almost 127,000 residents - both
mine workers and other community members - aged 15
years and older in 61 mining communities.
Using data from 1991-2002, researchers will compare health risks of these residents with that of individuals living in communities with a diverse economy. Data
will be drawn from the B.C. Linked Health Database
that records medical services for B.C. residents.
Researchers will track acute and chronic health problems, including doctor visits or hospitalizations for heart
disease and high blood pressure, depression, anxiety
and suicides as well as STIs. They will also review rates
and type of prescription drugs dispensed.
The second part of the study will look at the relationship of the health problems to boom and bust economic
conditions in the mining and comparison communities.
Sites include Tumbler Ridge in the Peace River district, where currently closed Quintette and Bullmoose
coalmines may re-open because of the recent boom in
coal prices: Williams Lake, the site of Gibraltar copper
mine: and sites in the East Kootenays, including the zinc
and lead mining town of Kimberley, magnesite mining
continued on page 2 I      UBC      REPORTS       |      OCTOBER     6,     2005
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Highlights of UBC Media Coverage in September 2005. compiled by ai lin choo
Prof. Neil Cashman is an expert in
neurodegenerative diseases and
directs the Vancouver Coastal
Health ALS Centre.
Did Feeding Human Remains to
Cattle Start Mad-Cow?
Mad-cow disease may have
developed because human
remains were fed to British cattle
in the 1960s and 1970s,
according to a disturbing hypothesis presented in The Lancet.
"All I can say at this point is
it's plausible. It's not out to
lunch," UBC neurology professor
Neil Cashman said in an interview with The Globe and Mail.
"But it's also not clear whether
this hypothesis is true, or even if
this hypothesis can be tested."
Sauder Ranks Among Top
Canadian Business Schools
The Sauder School of Business
at the University of British
Columbia ranked third among
Canadian graduate business
schools in terms ofthe "return
on investment" attained by
graduates, according to a Forbes
Magazine ranking.
The school posted a five-year
gain of US$85,000. A "five-year
MBA gain" was determined by
averaging post-MBA salary, then
by subtracting tuition and any
salary the student gave up to
attend school.
The MBA program at York
University's Schulich School of
Business in Toronto ranked top
with a gain of US$104,000,
followed by Queen's School of
Business, with students reporting
a gain of US$93,000.
Surveillance Legislation
Police and security agencies will
be able to track Canadians via
their cellphones, BlackBerrys and
laptop computers,
under a measure
contemplated as i
part of the fed-   "
eral government's planned
electronic surveillance bill.
Ottawa made the proposal during consultations this
year on a legislative package that
is anticipated to be unveiled this
fall, reports The National Post.
"The assumption is that we
should be trackable whether we
want to or not," said Richard
Rosenberg, a retired University
of British Columbia computer science professor. "It's very creepy."
The Demise of Salmon
Pacific salmon will become extinct
over the next century, a group of
30 scientists, policy analysts and
advocates have concluded.
In an interview with the
Dear Editor,
I very much enjoyed the story "UBC an Innovator in Cross-
Discipline Learning" in your September 7 issue - however, one of
the features of the Arts One program is that the team members
(five for each 100-student cohort), do all the teaching in the
program, which includes leading the four-person tutorials. Many
students in the program have commented on the positive impact
of having close weekly contact with the same people who give the
lectures and lead the seminars.
The instructors in this program are all highly qualified teachers;
the group is also extremely productive in a variety of research
fields, including classics, literature, political science, science
studies, and philosophy.
Margery Fee
Arts One Program
Associated Press, William Rees,
a population ecologist at the
University of British Columbia,
said the extinction of salmon is
inevitable as long as human populations continue to increase, leaving less energy and resources for
all other species, including the fish.
He added that the decline of
salmon is a minor regional
symptom of a global problem.
Private Insurance Undermines
A Supreme Court of Canada ruling
that cleared the way for private
health insurance in Quebec will see
Canadians "pay, pay and pay,"
said Morris Barer, founding
director of the Centre for Health
Services and Policy Research at
Barer told a major academic
conference that the ruling ignored
research on the impact of
private insurance in a public
health-care system, reports The
Globe and Mail.
Canadians Don't Know Enough
About Nutrition
A new study shows that Canadians
don't know enough about the
importance of protein-rich foods,
such as meat, fish eggs or dairy
"The reality is that too many
Canadians could be jeopardizing
their health by not eating enough
meat, fish, poultry, eggs, milk,
cheese or yogurt," said UBC
professor Susan Barr, reports
the Victoria Times Colonist.
"In addition to high-quality
protein, these foods are important
sources of many essential nutrients,
such as iron, zinc, calcium and
many B vitamins." □
Boom or Bust:
Hard on Miners'
continued from page 1
community Radium Hot Springs and
Sparwood, a coal mining site.
Also included on the project team
were: Malcolm Scoble, head ofthe
Dept. of Mining Engineering, Aleck
Ostry, associate professor in the
Dept. of Health Care and
Epidemiology: and Bridge students
Jennifer Ardiel, Silvana Costa and
Eric Mazzi.
The Bridge Program links the
faculties of medicine, applied science
and graduate studies. For more
information, visit
www.bridge.ubc.ca. □
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randy.schmidt@ubc.ca or call UBC.NEWS (604.822.6397) UBC  REPORTS  |  OCTOBER  6,  2005  |  3
A Better Way to Share Patient Information
$1.2 m grant establishes first Canadian inter-professional health network in B.C.
Days after her first son Quinn was
born, Heather Fowlie realized she
would have to take his health into
her own hands if he were to get any
It wasn't that she didn't trust local
health professionals; the problem was
getting them to communicate with
each other.
While still in hospital, Fowlie was
told her son had multiple birth
defects. His esophagus, the body's
swallowing tube, had not grown
properly during pregnancy and had
attached itself to his trachea, or
breathing tube. This meant that any
milk or food in his stomach could get
into his lungs.
"We realized from very early on
that Quinn would require attention
from many different health professionals, and we knew that strong
teamwork would be key to his recovery," Fowlie says. "But we found
that while there was some collaboration between the various professionals, there was really very little."
She decided to face the challenge
Heather Fowlie (with son Quinn) is pushing for changes in the way patient
information is transferred between professionals, educators and families.
The college, established in 2002 as
academic headquarters for the interprofessional activities of seven UBC
faculties engaged in health and
human service programs, is now
steering the network with the intent
of bringing about systemic change in
the way health care providers work
together to meet patients' needs.
develop online curricula for students and practitioners; and assess
and demonstrate the impact of these
projects for patients and
For her part, Fowlie says her
experience taught her that much
improvement to the health system
can come about simply by including
"When you have so many people attending to a child in a day, things
can be duplicated, missed or can easily go wrong."
by making sure that meetings were
arranged whereby all sides could sit
down and discuss Quinn's health.
"It sounds so basic, but it really
wasn't done enough. When you have
so many people attending to a child
in a day, things can be duplicated,
missed or can easily go wrong," she
"What was most frustrating was
that it took all health professionals
involved a long while to include even
us. One of our main struggles was
simply getting them to talk to us and
tell us what was going on."
Now, eight years later, Fowlie is
drawing on her experience to ensure
that parents like her will never have
to go through what she did.
As a patient representative on the
newly-formed Interprofessional
Network of B.C. (In-BC), Fowlie is
pushing for change in the way
knowledge is transferred between
professionals, educators, patients and
In late May, UBC's College of
Health Disciplines received $1.2
million from Health Canada to
develop this province-wide network -
the first of its kind in Canada - made
up of partnerships between health
and post-secondary education
organizations in B.C.
John Gilbert, principal of the college, explains that numerous studies
have shown interprofessional teams
enhance patient safety and satisfaction, and improve the work life of
many health-care professionals.
In addition to developing new
projects in the province, the network
is building on a number of programs
already underway in B.C., including
primary health care, chronic disease
management, the Collaboration for
Maternal Newborn Health, and the
Interprofessional Rural Program of
Gilbert says the network is also
looking to change the way students
in health faculties approach and
understand their professions.
"What we're trying to do is
essentially bring about a shift in
mindset where health professionals
feel they can admit there are certain
things about a patient they simply do
not understand, and more importantly, admit when one of their colleagues is more qualified to deal with
a particular problem."
Over the next two years, the
college will be working to coordinate groups across the province
to gather key findings about how
knowledge is exchanged across
health and education organizations;
and communicating with patients
and their families.
"When Quinn was in hospital,
he had surgeons, nurses, the
intensive care people, ear, nose and
throat specialists, physiotherapists,
social workers, you name it. We
were the ones who were actively
getting information from everyone,
and we felt we were in the best
position to try help co-ordinate
things," she said.
"With this new network, things
could really change by having
professionals think about what's
best for patients beyond their
disciplines, and beyond the individuals who wear the white coats.
Sometimes the patients or families
themselves can help as well."
For more information, please
disciplines.ubc.ca/index.php □
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Where's the Patient's
Voice in Health
Professional Education?
A conference will take place at
the Coast Plaza Hotel and Suites
at Stanley Park on November
3-5, 2005, to explore practices
that embed the patient/client
voice in health professional
www.interprofessional.ubc.ca. □
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IC  REPORTS  |  OCTOBER  6,  2005
UBC Okanagan social geographer Jose Carlos Teixeira moved to the Okanagan with his wife Maria in early 2004. He
says the mountains of the region remind him of his childhood home in the islands ofthe Azores. "They give me
inspiration, " he says.
Gaming Software Brings Classical Studies to Life
continued from page 1
create virtual classrooms and online
collaboration between institutions."
This is exactly what Griffin has in
mind. Currently a Commonwealth
scholar, he's now at Oxford, in his
second year of an MA in classics.
While in the U.K., Griffin will
continue to work for UBC Arts ISIT
in co-ordinating Ancient Spaces.
Griffin says he'll be looking for
ways to foster collaboration
between UBC and Oxford. "The
plan is to develop a common
platform for all universities so it's
dynamic and anyone can edit it and
add to it."
His ultimate vision is to see
Ancient Spaces encompass research,
teaching and outreach, in addition
to the gaming aspect. For example,
Griffin says he would love to post
the exciting research underway by
world-renowned UBC Egyptologist
Thomas Hikade in Egypt.
"Prof. Hikade is now excavating
at the City of Horus. It's probably
the most important Egyptian site
that a Canadian is directing. Quite
soon, we'll be able to post his
findings on the true origins of the
Egyptian kingship."
For more information, visit:
www.ancientspaces.com □
UBC Okanagan
Geographer Earns
Portugal's Highest Honour
"My father asked what my plans
were and I told him I wanted to
go to the Americas." It was 1978,
and a young Jose Carlos Teixeira
was about to leave the archipelago
of the Azores. Many from these
nine islands, a thousand
windswept miles west of the
Portuguese mainland, went
somewhere else to chase their
"You had no choice," he
recalls. "You had to emigrate."
Emigres would revisit the islands
with tales of a larger world and
new horizons that excited him
with possibilities.
Teixeira became a social
geographer passionate about
studying the migration of ethnic
groups and how they shape their
communities. On Oct. 15, this
UBC Okanagan assistant professor will receive Portugal's highest
civilian award, the Ordem do
Infante D. Henrique — Portugal's
equivalent to the Order of Canada
— for his contributions to the
Portuguese community abroad.
It's a big community. Take the
Azores alone — about 250,000
people live on the islands, but
another 1.5 million Azorians live
in North America. Teixeira soon
joined a growing number of
expatriates in Canada. Three
aunts and an uncle had settled in
Montreal and he found himself
living in that city's Latin Quarter.
"I was living in the port of
entry for Montreal. I felt at home
- fortunate to live, eat, shop in a
very ethnic part of Montreal. It
shaped my way of viewing and
experiencing the city," he says.
His time in the Latin Quarter's
immigrant neighbourhoods raised
questions central to his work ever
since. "I wanted to know how
they affected the internal structure
of our cities. I was interested in
the evolution, growth and
decline of some of these
neighbourhoods," he explains.
Teixeira believes being part of
the communities he studied — a
geographer in the field — gives
him valuable perspective as a
"It's relatively easy for me to
translate this experience to my
students because I lived it," he
says. "I saw the communities
decline and grow."
From Montreal, he moved to
Toronto where he completed a
PhD in urban social geography.
It didn't take long for him to
gravitate to the city's Kensington
Market area.
"Kensington Market was an
ethnic island. It was — and still is
to some degree — the United
Nations of the world," he says,
affection for this part of Toronto
evident in his tone. Two years ago,
he nominated Kensington Market
to become a national historic site.
He expects that nomination to be
approved later this year by the
federal Ministry of Environment.
Over the past century
Kensington Market has seen many
transitions. Just when it appears
to be on the wane, "suddenly you
have another wave of immigrants
and life is rejuvenated," says
Teixeira. The latest wave? A
decidedly up-market trend — "it's
somewhat gentrified with more
upper-class, white-collar people,"
he says. "They are bringing more
life and vitality to the area."
And while the area is morphing
into something new yet again,
Teixeira says that's key to
long-term salvation for this historic neighbourhood. "It will
become more trendy when it is a
national historic site. That will
preserve it. It has the history
behind it and nobody can take it
from that neighbourhood. I felt a
richer Canadian, a richer
Torontonian, any time I did a field
trip to Kensington Market."
Since arriving in the Okanagan
in early 2004, he has been
researching the Portuguese in the
southern reaches of the valley —
Penticton, Oliver and Osoyoos.
"Now I want to look at the temporary migrants and other immigrant groups that have left their
imprint on the South Okanagan,"
he says.
The Okanagan and UBC have
both impressed Teixeira. "We are
in a small paradise and UBC is in
a great position to attract more
students, including international
students. All the ingredients are
here," he says. "We are one ofthe
best institutions in North America,
and students know that. We have
the location in this beautiful
valley, with the lakes and
mountains — you can do a
thousand things here."
Teixeira turns 46 just three days
after receiving the Ordem do
Infante D. Henrique. Most of
those invested into this order are
much older, but Teixeira sees the
honour as a call to do even more
with the rest of his life's work.
"I am relatively young to receive
it — and I see it as an incentive to
work harder and harder. I will
continue working to promote my
group and research the rich tapestry of this country, Canada." □
about memorizing dates."
This technology, says Neufeld,
helps students connect the dots
between past and present and see
life in a larger framework.
"By building the world of the
ancients, they're able to see how
those historic concerns are still driving humanity today — questions of
identity, survival and territoriality."
Neufeld says he sees a huge potential for UBC to be at the forefront in
developing this educational model.
"This groundbreaking project can
Celebrating Portugal's Culture
Assistant Professor Jose Carlos Teixeira will receive the Ordem
do Infante D. Henrique from the Portuguese government during
a special day of celebration at UBC Okanagan on Saturday,
October 15.
Events begin at 1 p.m. in the Student Services Centre and will
feature a conference on the role and impact of the Portuguese in
the Okanagan Valley since 1955. The medal ofthe order will be
presented to Teixeira at 5 p.m. by Joao Laranjeira De Abreu,
Portuguese Consul in Vancouver. Also present will be Gongalo
Nuno, Portugal's member of Parliament elected by Portuguese
living outside Europe. □ IC      REPORTS      |      OCTOBER     6,      2005      |      5
and Youth
Ground-breaking study
looks at teenage attitudes
Is it therapeutic, harmless or
addictive? Adult opinions about
marijuana vary widely, but what
do teenagers think about using
marijuana and how do their perceptions influence their use?
That's what Nursing Prof. Joy
Johnson wants to find out in a
three-year study that begins this
month and involves interviews
with 30 male and 30 female
youth aged 14-18 years who use
marijuana several times per
month or more. Interviews will be
conducted in Vancouver, Port
Alberni on Vancouver Island, and
Nelson in southeastern B.C.
It is the first study in Canada to
include adolescents who are frequent marijuana users.
There are still a lot of unanswered questions about the health
effects of marijuana, says
Johnson. New research is needed
particularly since the drug is more
potent and available than it was
even 10 years ago.
"This study is a way to start a
real conversation about marijuana, " says Johnson, who is an
expert on tobacco use among
youth. "We want youth and
adults to be fully informed about
the drug and how adolescents
understand and experience it."
Young researchers, who can
establish rapport with students,
will stay about three weeks at
each research site. They will
explain the project to parents,
teachers and community members
and collect data from them using
focus groups. Researchers will
then conduct confidential interviews in local schools and
libraries. Personal interviews will
be supplemented by using web
logs where research participants
Teens' perspective on their use of marijuana is the focus of Nursing Prof. Joy Johnson's B.C.-wide study
can sign on and comment on posted research information and summaries of findings.
She and the research team want
to examine the sub-culture and
community norms that influence
teens' understanding of marijuana
use. They also want to find out
what teens know about the physiological effects of the drug, their
understanding of drug dependency
and their attitudes about the
health and social consequences of
frequent use.
In addition, the team will investigate gender differences in how
the drug is used, and how teens
distinguish marijuana use from use
of other mood-altering substances
such as alcohol or crystal metham-
In 2004, Johnson completed a
study that surveyed 8,000 teens
about tobacco use. Many respondents referred to marijuana use.
A 17-year-old girl said that she
started smoking marijuana at 14
and continues to smoke both
tobacco and marijuana at least
daily. A 16-year-old male who
never smoked cigarettes reported
smoking marijuana since 13.
Many survey respondents stated
that more teens smoke marijuana
than tobacco. Often teens
described using marijuana to combat feelings of depression, loneliness or social isolation.
Johnson is confident youth will
share information with researchers.
"Our work so far suggests that
young people welcome the opportunity to tell their stories to a non-
judgmental listener."
Participants will be asked about
their attitudes toward marijuana,
why and when they started using,
what reinforces their continued
use and what concerns they may
have about the drug.
The many subgroups of youth
culture can produce different patterns of use, says Johnson. Boys
often use marijuana in groups as a
social activity whereas girls tend to
smoke it alone. Asian youth in
Vancouver use tobacco and marijuana less frequently than
Caucasian youth.
Johnson expects some study participants may have parents who
use the drug regularly or operate
marijuana grow-ops.
She hopes the research will
spark local action among students, parents and educators.
Local initiatives could include
buddy groups for students wanting to talk about drugs, or developing clear messages about marijuana use for parents and schools,
or customized learning modules
on marijuana use.
"People should be fully
informed about using this drug,
both its benefits and risks," says
Johnson. We need an integrated
provincial policy that looks at the
role of all recreational drugs with
clear messaging that adults and
kids find relevant and credible."
Updates on the project will be
posted to
www.nahbr.nursing.ubc.ca. □
The Straight Dope
Marijuana use
among youth decreased slightly
from 1998 to 2003.
• THC in marijuana triggers brain
cells to release dopamine —
commonly associated with the
"pleasure system" ofthe brain that
provides feelings of enjoyment.
• Regular use of marijuana may
play a role in some kinds of
cancers and respiratory and
immune system problems.
• Some research shows a decline
in sex hormones in young boys
and possible menstrual cycle disturbance in girls, with regular use.
• Cannabis cannot be detected by
a roadside breathalyzer test.
• The majority of young cannabis
users do not progress to harder
drugs but many cannabis users
smoke tobacco.
• In larger quantities (or with
stronger strains) the effects may
feel similar to LSD or mushrooms.
Users may experience nausea,
mild hallucinations, anxiety, or
Sources: Health Canada; U.S.
National Institute on Drug Abuse;
Canadian Centre on Substance
Abuse; McCreary Centre Society,
DanceSafe. □
Steve Yohanan never
cared much for cats. That
is, until his girlfriend's cat laid a
paw on him.
"One day soon after we moved
in together, I found myself home
alone with her cat for the first
time. It hopped onto the couch
next to me, tentatively put one
paw on my leg then started
purring, and I just went 'aww...'
I've loved cats ever since," says
Yohanan, a PhD student in the
Dept. of Computer Science.
The experience ultimately
inspired Yohanan to design the
Hapticat - a soft, pillow-shaped
robot with a number of behaviours
suggestive of a cat - to find out
what it is about cats and other animals that gives people that warm,
fuzzy feeling.
"The Hapticat is a tool to help
us bring out the essence of tactile
communication and learn what
makes us tick," says Tim
Oxenford, an undergraduate engineering physics student who is
helping improve the mechanics of
The Purr-feet Touch
Robotic "cat" helps us understand that
"warm, fuzzy" feeling, by brian lin
the Hapticat, future versions of
which will include an automated
response mechanism and sensors
to interpret user interactions. The
data collected through the
Hapticat will help computer scientists find new ways for humans
and robots to interact.
While vital to the human experience, haptics, or the sense of
touch, remains largely unexplored
in terms of its potential as a communication medium in human-
computer interaction (HCI), says
Karon MacLean, a UBC computer
science professor and Yohanan's
supervisor in the field of emotional
"This is an area of research that
looks at both the psychology and
robotics of HCI," says MacLean,
who began haptics research in the
early 1990s, before the discipline
was even called 'haptics.'
"Anyone who's been in an intimate relationship is familiar with
the abundance of information that
can be conveyed in a simple pat on
the back or a squeeze of the
hand," says MacLean, whose
research has been supported by
industry giants such as Nokia and
"What we're trying to do is
decode that information and apply
it back into the world so that technology can help us restore some of
the connectedness we seem to have
already lost to it."
"There's a wealth of tactile
information afforded to us in
interpersonal communication but
much of that is lost when communicating through technology like
cell phones and computers," says
By recreating tactile behaviours
such as purring, breathing and
body heat, and by isolating them
from other visual and audio cues,
Yohanan was able to observe how
study participants reacted to this
unique form of communication.
Preliminary results confirm that
emotions can indeed be conveyed
by touch using the Hapticat and
that the subtleties aren't lost when
PhD student Steve Yohanan is now working on the second version ofthe
Hapticat under the guidance of computer science professor Karon MacLean.
visual or auditory messages are
missing, says Yohanan.
"The only resemblance the
Hapticat has to a real cat are the
perky ears and a non-working
tail," explains Yohanan. "Even
those features are pretty abstract,
so we can incorporate other animal or even human behaviours in
the future.
"Despite that, people were able
to identify fairly accurately which
behaviours corresponds with
which emotional state, such as
purring pointing to a state of
contentment or rapid breathing
linked with being upset."
While knowledge derived from
the Hapticat project could be
applied to the development of
surrogate pets for people who may
not have access to real pets due to
medical or environmental concerns, Yohanan, who has since discovered he is allergic to cats, says
the Hapticat is not meant to be a
replacement for house pets, but to
help understand how humans communicate emotion through touch.
"Technology has done a lot to
bring people closer together;
however, in many ways it has also
isolated us.  I'd feel I've succeeded
if, eventually, my research
contributes to something that
people can derive comfort from,
where it's otherwise impossible,"
says Yohanan. □ 6       |       UBC      REPORTS      |      OCTOBER      6,      2005
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Indigenous Teacher Education Planned
for Okanagan
They've gathered input from
indigenous education experts in New
Zealand, Australia, Labrador, and
B.C.'s Okanagan Nation. Now two
members of UBC Okanagan's Faculty
of Education are ready for the next
Program co-developers Sharon
McCoubrey and Wendy Klassen are
working on an Okanagan-grown
Aboriginal teacher education program.
UBC has prepared Aboriginal
teachers through the Native Indian
Teacher Education Program (NITEP)
for more than 30 years. The
Okanagan program is a separate initiative that had its start at the former
Okanagan University College.
Development continues at UBC
Okanagan in partnership with the
Okanagan Indian Educational
Resources Society's post-secondary
institution, the En'Owkin Centre in
Penticton, to prepare aboriginal teachers for teacher certification.
Over the past year and a half,
McCoubrey and Klassen have traveled
Canada and the Pacific researching
indigenous education models. Klassen
recalls a visit last year to Geelong,
near Melbourne, Australia, where an
Aboriginal teacher education program
has students spending a lot more time
at home than on campus.
"The Aboriginal students go back
to their homes and do their practica
and some coursework in their own
communities," she says. "They are
only on site every two months for a
week or two on campus."
Learning at home means education
students are doing more than preparing themselves to become teachers.
"We are not only training Aboriginal
students to be teachers. They are
involving their own community in
their learning," says Klassen.
They've also determined through
their research that indigenous languages need a higher profile in
teacher education programs, at home
and abroad.
"The more we've looked around
the world, the more it has become
clear that language is very important, " says McCoubrey. The vision
for the Okanagan program is to offer
teacher education common to all participants, and language components
that link into language education in
the home region of each student.
This special integration of indigenous languages, the possibility of
practica in First Nations schools, plus
a mix of on- and off-campus study
will differentiate the Okanagan program from those offered elsewhere.
The program has a strong supporter in Bill Cohen, UBC Okanagan
associate professor of indigenous
studies. Cohen is a member of the
Okanagan Band and was education
director for the En'Owkin Centre
before becoming the first faculty
member of the Indigenous Studies
program at Okanagan University
College in 2002.
Cohen was involved early on in
exploring an aboriginal teacher education program. Currently, he is completing a doctorate in education at
UBC, working on an Okanagan pedagogical framework for an Okanagan
cultural immersion school. In
January, he'll lead indigenous studies
seminars for the UBC Okanagan
teacher education program.
"The seminars engage students in
indigenous methods for building
community, inclusive and respectful of
diversity and difference - looking at
what informs attitudes, perceptions,
and teaching practices," he says.
One of the issues an Okanagan-
based indigenous teacher education
program may help address is the
scarcity of culturally and geographically relevant indigenous people's content in schools.
In a study of the education experiences of Okanagan Nation students,
coordinated by Cohen on behalf the
En'owkin Centre and all Okanagan
Nation Bands, it became clear that
Okanagan peoples' knowledge, culture and history have been lacking in
the classroom.
"What was taught was not relevant
to students' lives, experiences or personal histories and identities," Cohen
says. "There was no content that connected them. Okanagan students
were, and are, in their own homeland,
and there was nothing about the
Okanagan peoples' history, culture or
knowledge, and it doesn't leave a
good feeling.
"Okanagan students did not, and
do not, feel loved or cared for by the
school system, and the sad statistics
concerning academic underachieve-
ment, dropout, and graduation rates
are reflections of this."
The Okanagan indigenous teacher
education program will be part of the
solution, Cohen believes.
"We are promoting an indigenous
teacher education program for the
Okanagan informed by Okanagan
pedagogy, and traditional ways of
teaching and learning - not just in the
classroom, but at home, in the
extended family and community, and
the territorial ecology," he says. □ IC      REPORTS      |       OCTOBER      6,      2005      |      7
Institute Makes Grad Studies More
Indigenous studies courses will
form the core of a new summer
institute for graduate students at
UBC Okanagan next year.
Over the span of two to four
months, students in the Summer
Institute for Indigenous Graduate
Studies take a common six-credit
Indigenous Studies Method and
Theory course. Then they pursue
more focused interests as they work
toward interdisciplinary Master of
Arts, Master of Science, Master of
Fine Arts (pending Ministry
and Canada Research Chair.
The program is structured to
address an emerging need among
mid-career professionals from
indigenous communities. "As the
number of certificate and bachelor's
degree holders within communities
has grown, communities have been
increasingly successful in taking
both authority and functional
control of their own institutions,"
says Evans.
"These successes have come at a
cost, however, and at a cost often
ments," Evans says.
Stephen Foster, an Aboriginal
media artist and associate professor
of fine arts at UBC Okanagan, says
the program will attract well-
established artists who, although
highly talented, lack formal
recognition or a graduate degree.
"Though they may be well-
recognized among their peers they
have not been recognized in the
larger community. That is important," says Foster. "Having the
credentials allows them to take
"Because ofthe tremendous demands on educated [indigenous] community
members, options to pursue advanced degrees have been limited not by ability,
but by both time and resources."
approval), or PhD degrees.
The program, which just received
$50,000 from the Ministry of
Advanced Education's Aboriginal
Special Project funding, will deliver
a compressed, intensive on-campus
experience for two to four months
each summer — a combination of
location, timing and curriculum
that could draw students from near
and far.
"We hope to attract indigenous
students regionally, nationally and
internationally," says Mike Evans,
UBC Okanagan associate professor
Sometimes real-life learning isn't
as neat and tidy as a planned
curriculum, but the pay-off can
be infinitely richer.
That's what UBC engineering
student Garth Howey discovered
last year in his Learning Exchange
Trek project to build a cob tool
shed at Vancouver inner-city
Grandview Elementary School.
Cob is a traditional building
material made from a mix of
straw, sand, water and clay.
Between 2004 and 2005,
Howey — like 1,000 UBC students this academic year — opted
to include community-service
learning as part of his university
experience. Established in 1999,
UBC's Learning Exchange is the
first initiative of its kind in
Canada to help students translate
their expertise into projects that
benefit inner-city schools, community centres or non-profit organizations.
Howey and his peers consulted
with Grandview students and
teachers to come up with a project
that would meet their engineering
design course's requirements and
teach children math and science
"The old shed in the school's
borne by individual service
providers and leaders themselves.
Because of the tremendous demands
on educated community members,
options to pursue advanced degrees
have been limited not by ability, but
by both time and resources."
Conducting a graduate program
over a few short summer months
may present some unique opportunities. "The compressed nature of
the program makes it possible to
bring in scholars and thinkers of
renown from all over the world for
short, intense, teaching engage-
their skills to other settings, too,
such as teaching."
He sees the program offering a
path to graduate degrees that can
advance careers, bringing status to
people and the programs they work
for — but without the upheaval
that often comes with studying
away from home for long periods.
"This will appeal to people who
would otherwise have to quit or
leave their community completely,"
he observes. "This is career
development, but also community
development." □
Not Your
Ordinary Tool
School cob shed project
helps engineering student
build world view
community garden was falling
apart," says Howey. "I thought
it'd be neat to do something larger
in scope and use cob since it's
cheap and energy efficient."
He adds, "In England, cob
buildings built 400 years ago are
still standing."
To his chagrin, Howey also realized that cob structures face a
snarl of permit and zoning red
tape, especially if they're public or
school board buildings. After
running a gauntlet of seismic and
engineering reviews, the tool shed
is finally ready to go.
This month, with the help of 40
enthusiastic Grandview students,
Howey is digging the foundation,
shaping cobs the size of softballs
and stacking them to build the
"This isn't part of class time, so
essentially I'm volunteering. But
we did promise to build it and I'm
going to," says Howey.
It was this attitude and
resourcefulness that impressed
Daan Maijer, Howey's professor
of Applied Science 330:
Intermediate Engineering Design.
Maijer gave the cob tool shed
project an "A" based on the
group's effort, although construc-
Grandview Elementary students dig the tool shed foundation in the school's
community garden. (1) UBC Engineering student, Garth Howey
tion was delayed past the end of
"Garth really drove this project
and he got a lot out of this experience from interacting with people
and taking on a management
role," says Maijer, noting,
"Hands-on learning is much better
than just classroom alone."
Howey says he was able to grow
in other ways beyond the academic
and professional. "I suppose being
at Grandview has made me a lot
more empathetic. It's a lot different over there than the kind of
idealism we have about education
here at UBC. I learned that they
lose several students a year to
drugs and prostitution."
Grandview's community liaison
officer Jen Harrison says that half
of the 185 students are Aboriginal
and 70 per cent of the students'
parents live at or below the poverty line. However, she says the
school's three-year partnership
with UBC's Learning Exchange has
brought gifts to both sides.
"Our kids love having UBC
students here," says Harrison.
"They bring so much energy and
"Lots ofthe children don't
continued on page 8
Call for Nominations
The University of British Columbia established Awards for Excellence
in Teaching in 1989.  Awards are made by the Faculty of Science
to UBC Science faculty members, including full-time (sessional) lecturers
and laboratory instructors who are selected as outstanding teachers.
We are seeking input from UBC alumni, current and former students.
Nomination Deadlines:
First term - October 14, 2005
Second term - January 27, 2006
Nominations should be accompanied by supporting statements
and the nominator's name, address and telephone number.
Please send nominations to:
Chair, Killam Prizes
for Excellence in Teaching
c/o Office of the Dean of Science
Rm. 1505 — 6270 University Blvd.
University of British Columbia
Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z4
FAX  (604) 822 5558
Associate Dean - Equity
The raculty ol Medicine, University ot British Col um hi a Invites
applications and nominations for die position of Associate Dean,
bquiLy.   I Mis is a pint, lime posiLion expelled Lo be filled by a
candidate Internal fr> UBC and Is available December I, ?O0.5.
Ihe incumbent will report Lo Liie Senioi Associate Dean, faculty
Ai fairs and flip Dean ot Medicine and rhmuqh the Dean Is
accountable lu the faculty bjtecutive Committee, tlie
Committee ot Department Heads and School Dlrectors, and the
Faculty.  The successful candidate will assist in the creation of a
respectful arid positive working and learning environment and
will qlve advice and present educational programs In an
objective, impartial, empatheb'c and confidential manner to
under graduate sLudents, graduate students and postgraduate
trainees as well as to faculty In the UBC raculty ot Medicine.
Issues which are dealt with include discrimination, harassment,
intimidation, unprofessional behavioi us well us gender und
equity Issues.
I his person will serve in an advisory, policy making,
educational and prohlem solvlnq capacity rerjardlnn, qender and
equity issues. A demonstrated track record in leadership in an
arjadeinirj health environment is a strong asset OppoiLuriities
tor skill development related to the portfolio will he provided.
Applications from all lieu I III related disciplines aie welcomed.
UBC Faculty of Medicine
Applications, accompanied by u detailed
curriculum vitae and names ot ttiree references,
should be directed by November 6th, 2005 to:
Di. Gavin C.fc. Stuart, lAeuu
faculty ot Medicine
University of British Columbia
Itooru 31/, lustiucUuiiul Resources Centre
?1<M Health Sciences Mall
Vancouver, BC   V6T 1Z3
The University ot British Colnmhla hires on the basis ot merit
and Is committed hr> employment equity.
We encouiuge all qualified applicants Lo apply.
UBC Public Affairs has opened both a radio and TV studio
on campus where you can conduct live interviews with local,
national and international media outlets.To learn more about
being a UBC expert, call us at 604.822.2064 and visit our
web site at www.publicaffairs.ubc.ca/experts/signup I       UBC      REPORTS      |      OCTOBER      6,      2005
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y§il Continuing Studies
Languages, Cultures & Travel
The University of British Columbia
The UBC Alumni Association
The 11th Annual
Alumni Achievement Awards Dinner
Illuminating Achievement
Please join us in celebrating UBC's highest achievers.
Thursday, November 3, 2005
Fairmont Waterfront Hotel, Vancouver BC
Tic kets: 515 D, table of eight H 2 00
Earlybird by October 11: S125, table of eight S 1,000
Master of Ceremonies: Peter Jackson, BSc'BO
George Curtis, LLDS2
Lifetime Achievement
Michael Ames, BA'56
Award of Distinction
Pleter Cullls, BSc'67. MSc'70, PhD'7?
Research in Science and Medicine
Steven Heine, MA'93, PhD'96
Research in ihe Aits, Humanities and
Social Sciences
Chuck Sloenecker
Faculty Citation Community Service
Catherine Ebbehoj, BSN'75. MSN199
Eiythe Eagles Volunteer Service Award
Henry Skinner
Honorary Alumnus
Robert Stewart
Honorary Alumnus
Fred Abnousi, 3ScJ01
Global Citizenship Award
Cullen Jennings, PhD'Q2
Outstanding Young Alumnus
Claire Sheldon, MSc'99
Outstanding Student
Clara Tan, MSc'02
Outstanding Student
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Members ofthe UBC community have been appointed
to the Order of Canada.
Among the appointments are professors emeritus James Hogg, former
UBC librarian Basil Stuart-Stubbs, former chancellor BUI Sauder, architect Peter Busby and donor Wally Chung.
The Order of Canada was established in 1967 to recognize
outstanding achievement and service in various fields of human endeavour. It is the country's highest honour for lifetime achievement. □
Technology Could Transform Urban
Landscape for Disabled
Navigating the urban jungle could
become much easier for people with
disabilities thanks to a team of UBC
electrical and computer engineering
Answering a challenge to "go
beyond the boundaries" by the 2005
Institute of Electrical and Electronics
Engineers (IEEE) Computer Society
International Design Competition,
the five-member team developed a
way to allow people with disabilities
to control everything from building
intercoms, to elevator keypads and
crosswalk buttons right from their
cell phones.
"We came up with the protocol to
turn any Bluetooth-enabled cell
phone or hand-held computer into a
remote control that adapts itself to
the device the user wishes to control, " says Michael Luk, who, with
teammates Larix Lee and Kelvin
Poon, has since enrolled in graduate
studies at UBC.
"While Bluetooth technology has
been widely available for a number
of years, this is among the first
Bluetooth applications that directiy
benefit the disabled," says David G.
Michelson, an assistant professor in
electrical and computer engineering
and the team's advisor.
"Various firms, including
Burnaby-based IMAG RF
Technologies, already make
Bluetooth access control devices that
would work seamlessly with this
kind of universal remote control," says Michelson. "The
team's software is the missing piece of an application that could poten- ' <W'
tially benefit millions
of people."
Instead of pre-program-
ming the cell phone in order
to operate various devices -
much like universal remotes avail
able now for home entertainment
systems - the team's software
enables the cell phone to learn and
display the interface and command
set of any compatible device.
"For example, if the phone comes
into range of a building intercom, it
automatically provides a number
keypad and asks the user to enter a
suite number," explains Lee.
"If the user approaches a
crosswalk, the phone's interface will
change into a single button that
represents the crosswalk device."
What's more, the interface
changes according to the status of
The Bluetooth universal remote invented by a team of UBC engineering
students could give people living with disabilities more freedom.
the device.
using the
with a
lamp, for
instance, the 'button'
would be labeled 'turn lamp on'
when the lamp is off, and vice
versa," says Poon, who was recently
reunited with teammates Justin
Wong and Derrick Yeung, who are
currently attending Stanford and
Cornell universities, respectively, at
the recent IEEE Telus Innovation
Competition in Vancouver.
Michelson is not the only expert
who has been impressed by the students' invention.  The team competed at the final rounds of several stu-
The Value of Real-Life
continued from page 7
graduate from high school so this
gives them a sense of what's
possible, that there's a world
outside the Commercial Drive
Looking around at the vibrant
murals and the palpable sense of
loving care and pride that radiate
from the school premises, Harrison
concludes, "UBC projects leave
their mark forever. And those
university students also change
their lives while they're here. They
learn what's important." □
Happy Fifth Birthday:
UBC Learning Exchange
When UBC launched the
Learning Exchange in 1999, 30
students signed up to do volunteer
work in Downtown Eastside
organizations. When the Main
Street storefront opened in the fall
of 2000, a handful of residents
came to the computer drop-in.
Since then, Learning Exchange
programs have grown exponen
tially. This year, 1,000 students
will volunteer in Eastside schools
and community organizations.
Now, more than 50 people come
to the storefront every day, for
computer training and Internet
access, to take part in an ESL
program and to access UBC
Library resources and other UBC
services. □
dent competitions and has won the
communications award at the UBC
IEEE student project fair. Wireless
industry leader Nokia has invited the
team to publish an article on its web
site. The Neil Squire Society, a B.C.-
based non-profit organization that
promotes the use of technology to
help people with disabilities, has provided funding for further research.
Poon says the protocol can be
customized to work with any mobile
device with any wireless connection,
and the cost associated with
embedding Bluetooth transmitters in
public facilities would be minimal.
"The next step is convincing
policy-makers and corporate citizens
to use the protocol," Lee adds. "We
really believe this will make a
difference in people's lives." □
Quarter Century
A total of 32 UBC faculty members were recognized at this
year's Quarter Century Club
annual dinner, held Oct. 6.
Established in 1996 by then
President David Strangway, the
Quarter Century Club recognizes full-time faculty members
and librarians with 25 years of
In addition to the Quarter
Century Club inductees, this
year's dinner also honoured 30
faculty members and librarians
who have worked at UBC for
35 years. In 2003, the club
began recognizing these active
members, known collectively as
Tempus Fugit, or "time flies,"
who reached the additional
For information on this
year's inductees, please visit:
centuryclub/fdinner □


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