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UBC Reports Oct 31, 2011

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Array CBC
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October 2011
Psych lab at
Science World
Blessed are
UBC cheesemakers
Students run
rehab clinic
Thrive 2011
Student leaders urge mental wellness
by promoting a balanced life 12
By Heather Amos
Rooted in real life
Lessons that transform the classroom
By Lorraine Chan UBC REPORTS
Acting Director
randy schmidt randy.schmidt@ubc.ca
Lorraine chan  lorraine.chan@ubcca
Design Manager
arlene cotter arlene.cotter@ubc.ca
Public Affairs Studio
ping ki chan  ping.chan@ubcca
amanda fetterly amanda.fetterly@ubcca
martin dee  martin.dee@ubcca
Web Designer
linakang  lina.kang@ubcca
Communications Coordinators
heather amos heather.amos@ubcca
Lorraine chan  lorraine.chan@ubcca
darren handschuh darren.handschuh@ubcca
brian kladko brian.kladko@ubcca
brian lin  brian.Iin@ubcca
basil waugh  basil.waugh@ubcca
pearlie davison  pearlie.davison@ubcca
lou bosshart lou.bosshart@ubcca
UBC Reports is published monthly by:
The University of British Columbia
Public Affairs Office
310-6251 Cecil Green Park Road
Vancouver BC Canada V6T1Z1
Next issue: 2 November 2011
UBC Reports welcomes submissions.
For upcoming UBC Reports submission guidelines:
Opinions and advertising published in UBC Reports
do not necessarily reflect official university policy.
Material may be reprinted in whole or in part with
appropriate credit to UBC Reports. Letters (300 words
or less) must be signed and include an address and
phone number for verification.
Submit letters to:
The Editor, UBC Reports
E-mail to publicaffairs@ubcca or
Mail to UBC Public Affairs Office (address above)
Visit our online UBC News Room for the latest
updates on research and learning. On this site you'll
find our news releases, advisories, news extras, as
well as a daily media summary and a real-time
UBCNEWS twitter feed. You can also find resources
including access to more than 500 faculty experts
and information about UBC's radio and TV studios.
Website: www.ubcca/news
Tel: 604.822.NEWS (6397)
E-mail: public.affairs@ubcca
Twitter: @ubcnews
Publication mail agreement no. 40775044.
Return undeliverable Canadian addresses to circulation department.
310-6251 Cecil Green Park Road, Vancouver, BC Canada V6T1Z1
Email: public.affairs@ubc.ca
Highlights of UBC media coverage
in September 2011
UBC Faculty of Law opens
Allard Hall
The Vancouver Sun and others
reported on the official opening of
Allard Hall, a new $56-million building
for UBC's Faculty of Law. Allard
Hall is named after its major private
benefactor Peter A. Allard who attended
the school 40 years ago.
A couple of hundred guests, including
Canada's Chief Justice, the Right Hon.
Beverley McLachlin, a former
UBC Law faculty member, and the
Hon. Steven L. Point, Lieutenant
Governor of B.C., an alumnus and
former faculty member, were in
With schools and universities heading
back to school at the beginning of
September, many news outlets did
stories about new trends in education
and preparing for the school year.
Maclean's, CBC, the Canadian Press,
the Chronicle of Higher Education, the
Daily Courier and others covered stories
about the size of this year's university
class, student loans, copyright issues
and licensing, orientation programs
and new buildings. UBC faculty, staff,
students and alumni provided insight
on these topics and more.
"This year almost every direct-entry
program at UBC Vancouver offered
applicants the opportunity to submit
a personal profile, and in total over
2,500 students were admitted on the
strength of their personal profile, not
on high school marks alone," said UBC's
associate vice-president and registrar
James Ridge in the Vancouver Sun.
Aging not culprit in health cost:
UBC studies
The Globe and Mail, Vancouver
Sun, Montreal Gazette and Global BC
reported on two UBC studies that
indicate that rising acute-care costs
and more reliance on specialists and
diagnostic tests are a far greater threat
to Canada's health care system than the
aging population.
"Population aging is not going to cause
an inevitable crisis in health care," said
health economist Steve Morgan and
lead author of one study.
"The fact that populations are aging
exerts only a small pressure on the
system," wrote Kimberlyn McGrail, the
lead author of the second study and
an assistant professor and associate
director ofthe UBC Centre for Health
Services and Policy Research, in an
op/ed in the Toronto Star.
In a Vancouver Sun series on aging,
Bob Evans, Larry Frank and Kevin
Milligan provided commentary about
health care costs, city design and the
aging workforce respectively.
Deep-sea destruction
Two Washington Post articles and
the Globe and Mail reported on a recent
study that suggests that deep-sea
commercial fishing should be banned.
Rashid Sumaila, a co-author of
the study and the director of UBC's
Fisheries Centre, said high-seas
trawlers around the world receive
roughly $162 million each year in
government subsidies.
Daniel Pauly, a marine biologist at
UBC.said the costs of deep-sea fishing
far outweigh the benefits. "It's a waste
of resources, it's a waste of biodiversity,
it's a waste of everything."
Biologist named MacArthur
UBC researcher Sarah Otto has been
awarded a $500,000 grant from the
MacArthur Foundation — a prestigious
award popularly known as a "genius
grant," reported the New York Times,
CBC, Toronto Star and many others.
Otto, a zoology professor and director
ofthe Biodiversity Research Centre, is
a theoretical biologist. Her research has
focused on fundamental questions of
population genetics and evolution, such
as why some species reproduce sexually
while others reproduce asexually
"The MacArthur Fellowship gives
people the freedom to be creative,
giving them room to focus on what they
do well," Otto said. "I am going to take
that to heart and carve out more time
for the math and science that I love
Richards' lab was made possible with
support from the Canada Foundation
for Innovation. Learn more about the
Dept. of Anthropology at:
www.anth.ubc.ca. Celebrate Learning Week
October 29 - November 6
Celebrate Learning Week turns the lens on those "aha" moments when
theory becomes practice and ideas blossom into action. Now in its
fourth year, the celebration highlights and honours the work of faculty,
students and staff to create an exceptional learning environment at
UBC's Vancouver campus, www.celebratelearning.ubc.ca
Metacognition is the opposite of rote
learning since the goal is keen self
awareness and the confidence to explore.
12:00 PM - 1:00 PM
Teaching and Learning Enhancement
Fund Showcase
Irving K. Barber Learning Centre,
4th floor, Golden Jubilee Room
1961 East Mall
The Teaching & Learning Enhancement
Fund (TLEF) highlights successful
projects that enrich and improve student
learning. There will be a kick-off
presentation and Q&A featuring the
successful strategies of various TLEF
projects, and a week-long poster display
in the Learning Centre's main floor
8:30 AM - 4:00 PM
Dialogue on the History of Indian
Residential Schools in Canada
First Nations Longhouse,
Main Floor Atrium
Participants will reflect on the
university's role in fostering a better
understanding of the history of the
residential school system and its impact
on Aboriginal people. Register at:
7:30 AM - 9:30 PM
Work, Family and Fun
Juliet's Cafe (to be confirmed),
905 Cornwall Ave.
Do married couples remain independent
individuals or do they become an
interdependent unit? Sponsored by the
Dept. of Occupational Science and
Occupational Therapy, Sociology Assoc.
Prof. Carrie Yodanis will give a
presentation and then lead a discussion
on whether marriage has changed over
time. Space is limited, register at:
Key Strengths of Learning Communities
g Exchange
612 Main Street (at Keefer)
With the UBC Centre for Intercultural
Language Studies, the UBC Learning
Exchange has studied the key strengths
of its ESL facilitator training program for
local residents. Presenters will discuss
findings on successful learning and
community-university engagement.
3:00 PM
Students on community engagement
Irving K. Barber Learning Centre,
#302 Dodson Room, 1961 East Mall
Transformative learning through
community engagement is the focus for
students who will have 20 seconds to
present 20 slides, or video clips, about
their UBC-Community Learning
Initiative and Go Global experiences.
Writing Across Borders
Udl. Learning Lxcnange
612 Main Street (at Keefer)
Neighbourhood residents and UBC's
creative writing students will read their
works—many for the first time—as part
of the annual Heart of the City Festival,
an arts festival in the Downtown
Eastside. Participants will talk about the
joys and challenges of writing in a
second language and making new
connections. Fun group activities will
allow visitors to try their hand at writing.
7:30 PM
David Suzuki, The Global Eco-crisis:
Is it too late?
Chan Centre for the Performing Arts
David Suzuki, distinguished Canadian
environmentalist and UBC professor
emeritus, presents a public lecture at the
Chan Centre for the Performing Arts. In
an engaging, 60-minute lecture entitled
"The Global Eco-crisis: Is it too late?",
Suzuki will offer his insights on the state
of the environment and whether there is
hope for the future. Tickets are $5 at
10:00 AM - 4:15 PM
TedX Terry Talks
Life Science Institute, LSC2 lecture hall
2350 Health Sciences Mall
Eight of UBC's most fascinating and
engaging students come together for a
day, giving "the talk of their lives,"
sharing their ideas and discussing their
visions for UBC and the world in a
TED-like event. Ticket information at
"We'd like to
encourage everyone
to take advantage
of this celebration
to share innovative
ideas and learn from
each other so we can
further enhance the
says Prof. Anna
Kindler, vice provost
and associate vice
president academic
affairs and resources. Celebrate Learning Week
tiuitter^ <ac.lebn.teua">  #CLW20« _
a place of mind
a place of mind
av system design & integration
digital signage
presentation webcast & capture
av equipment rentals & repair
audio-visual services
av supplies & equipment sales
creative services
video & media production
medical illustration/animation
graphic design
large-format printing
'By understanding
how social
preferences emerge,
we can develop
strategies to
improve tolerance
and cooperation—
ultimately to create
more productive
and harmonious
schools, workplaces
and communities."
The UBC Science World Living Lab
was established with support from
the Canada Foundation for Innovation.
For more information, visit:
and www.scienceworld.ca/lab. Start the year off in style!
UBC's newest restaurant offers a sleek, casual
bistro style experience for everyone.
Dining indoors or out - a large sun-facing patio offers
the perfect opportunity to enjoy a variety of daily drink
specials or choose from a selection of exciting beer,
wines and cocktails.
Marine Drive Residence buildings, 2205 Lower Ma
"Our results show that Gouda would be
more feasible than Brie, should anyone
at UBC want to make and sell cheese."
For more information about food,
nutrition and health studies at the
Faculty of Land and Food Systems,
visit: http://bit.ly/rmtjtf
Conferences &
"Food safety will be a key focus for the food
industry over the next five to 10 years." GOAL
Bring Your Meeting to Campus
Let us be your Conference Planning Partner
As a scientist, I found working with UBC Conference
Services a true pleasure. Their skilled staff assumed
the organizational details involved in putting on a
conference of 800 and left me to the scientific programme;
they even helped me with non-scientific programme
particulars. I enjoyed working with them so much,
I have organized two international chemistry conferences
- the decision to take on the second was due to their
excellence on the first.
- Chris Orvig, FRSC
ICBIC15 Conference Chair
Employees who donated
via payroll deductions in 2010.
Number of UBC employees
who have worked as loan
reps since 1988.*
National Library Month
at UBC Library
UBC raised $694,584.87
during the 2010 campaign;
2.3% ofthe $30-million
raised in the Lower Mainland.
&    f   1
October is National Library
Month and we have a number
of month-long activities
happening at UBC Library:
visit: great reads
COLLECTION - drop by Koerner
Library and browse our new popular
reading collection. #ubcgreatreads
attend week-long forums, seminars
rand workshops showcasing open
scholarship at UBC. Part of Open
Access Week.
Oct. 24-30.
'COLLECTION - discover^
artifacts chronicling BC history,
immigration and settlement. At the
Irving K. Barber Learning Centre.
attend our Let's Speak about Business
event on Oct. 17 at Robson Sq. and
hear from two influential business
'leaders. #ubcsba
Follow our Twitter feed and join
our Facebook page for 31 days of
celebrating our libraries.
Join our conversation -#ubclibrary
Of each dollar raised goes
directly to services and programs.
Cost per pay for a $365 donation
(after tax). This allows 22 school-
age children to attend violence
prevention workshops and helps
break the cycle of abuse,
harassment, and bullying.
*Loaned Reps are UBC employees seconded to the United Wav to work on the campaign for four months
A clinic where
students run
the shop
Patients eager for rehab services
By Brian Kladko
Killam Postdoctoral
Research Fellowships
CAD $50,000 per year to a maximum of two years plus a
travel and research allowance.
Applicants must complete a PhD at a recognized university
within 24 months prior to commencing the fellowship.
Submit applications directly to UBC departments
Each department sets its own submission deadline
A maximum of one nominee from each department is
submitted to the Faculty of Graduate Studies no later than
4:00 PM on Friday, November 25,2011
After a career of guiding students
through the thickets of political science
at Douglas College, Marlene Hancock
now finds herself on the receiving end
of instruction.
And her instructor, appropriately
enough, is a student. The subject,
however, isn't politics. It's her own
Hancock stands between two
parallel bars in a rehabilitation clinic
at Royal Columbian Hospital in New
Westminster, leaning against one rail
with both hands, and sidestepping her
way between the two—all while trying
to keep her feet straight, her head
up and her shoulders back. Standing
next to her, watching every move and
correcting every misstep, is Ryan Hik,
a second-year UBC physical therapy
"You have to keep that foot nice and
UBC Reports The University of British Columbia   October 2011
straight," he says. Aware that he is
repeating the same thing over and over,
he jokes, "I'm going to crack the whip on
Hancock, for her part, doesn't mind a
"He's teaching me to think how to make
my body work again," says Hancock, who
was bedridden for five weeks during a
coma brought on by kidney problems.
"I was eager to have a student work
with me. They tend to be very keen and
interested in what they're doing."
Hik is one of scores of physical
therapy and occupational therapy
students who have been fortunate
to land a placement at the Student
Rehabilitation Outpatient Clinic,
perhaps the first of its kind in Canada.
Here, the students pretty much run
the shop, and have helped hundreds
of people in the Fraser Health region
Oct 17 - Nov 30
Mark your calendar! The campaign will run during these dates.
UBC has more Leadership Donors than any other
organization in the Lower Mainland, including banks.'
Non-profit organizations supported by the
United Way of the Lower Mainland and
United Way of the Central Okanagan.
Events held during
last year's campaign.
Year of first UBC
United Way Campaign.
Staff and faculty
volunteer for UBC's
United Way Campaign.
*A Leadership Donor is an individual who donates $1,000 (before taxes
Hyman Gee Photograph
recuperate from or grapple with the
effects of stroke, bone fractures, hip or
knee replacements or other conditions
that hinder their mobility.
Created two years ago, the clinic
provides an authentic clinical
experience for students pursuing
two-year master's degree programs
in either physical therapy, which
focuses on helping people regain
functional movement, or occupational
therapy, which helps people regain
independence with everyday tasks.
Typically, students in those programs
are assigned to work with therapists in
hospitals, either in wards or outpatient
clinics, or in private clinics. In these
one-to-one placements, students
maybe assigned certain patients but
usually don't have much control over
their caseload, and they often have
little contact with other students or
Get ready for the 2011
UBC United Way Campaign
By Heather Amos
UBC's annual United Way Campaign
kicks off October 17. After the success
ofthe 2010 campaign, when UBC won
the Quantum Leap Giving Award from
the United Way ofthe Lower mainland
for dramatically increasing its giving
over the previous year, the stakes are
high for 2011.
Every fall, UBC staff, faculty, and
students join together to raise money
for the United Way ofthe Lower
Mainland and United Way of the
Central Okanagan. Funds raised
help support over 190 non-profit
organizations all working to meet
the health and social needs of Lower
Mainland and Central Okanagan
After raising $694,584.87 in 2010,
this year's goal is to hit $700,000
between the Okanagan and Vancouver
campuses. To hit that target, a number
of awareness events—BBQs, jeans day, a
spelling bee and more—are planned for
both campuses. Faculty and staff are
encouraged to donate through payroll
deduction. A donation of even $10
per paycheque can make a difference.
This donation gives 16 children and
their parents access to community
programming like story time, snack and
lunch programs, and parenting sessions.
'He's teaching me
to think about how
to make my body
work again."
Patrice Kong, a physical therapy student,
measures the shoulder range of patient Jim Butterworth.
Here, however, every patient is seen
by a student, and often by students of
both physical therapy and occupational
therapy. The students are closely
monitored by a clinical instructor
in each field, who must approve the
students' initial assessments and
treatment plans, and who often assist in
the early stages of treatment.
"As they're able to demonstrate that
they're able to do more, we delegate
more to them, until they're just checking
with us and running things past us," says
Corey Stock, the clinical instructor in
occupational therapy.
During their six or so weeks in
the clinic, students also get a feel for
scheduling patients and managing
caseloads—crucial skills they will need
in a few months, when they are working
"It's liberating, actually," says Ewa
Kowalska, a second-year occupational
therapy student.
Also, by working in such close
proximity to students from another
discipline, often on the same patient at
the same time, students gain a better
appreciation for the goals, techniques
and challenges of each others' fields-
something not usually possible in a
conventional placement.
The model of a student-run clinic,
imported from Australia, is catching
on. G.F Strong Rehabilitation Hospital
in Vancouver started its own in
the spring, as an adjunct to its own
professionally-run clinic. And the
University of Alberta, after sending a
delegation to observe the activity at
Royal Columbian, has received approval
to do the same in Edmonton.
The benefits to the students,
meanwhile, are rivaled if not surpassed
by the benefits to the patients. Before
the clinic came along, residents of
New Westminster had no outpatient
rehabilitation services nearby, so they
would have faced long waiting lists or
overly restrictive eligibility criteria at
the region's hospitals—or they would
have had to pay out-of-pocket at a
private clinic.
"My guess is 80 to 85 per cent of these
people would not have been seen," says
Hyman Gee, the clinical instructor in
physical therapy. •
For more information, visit:
Student_physiotherapy_clinic.htm a place of mind
Large Format
Poster Printing
Next Day Service*
"extra day for lamination
The University of British Columbia
The Media Group
Drop off your file in person
Email slides@interchange.ubc.ca
Upload www.mediagroup.ubc.ca/
Questions? Call 604 822 5769
Woodward IRC Building - Lower Level
ft   fwlCtllCl Room B32,2194 Health Sciences Mall
Troup  Located north of UBC Hosoital
share your thoughts
on the
Housing Action Plan
The UBC Board of Governors has asked the
Community Planning Task Group to lead the
process of developing a Housing Action Plan
(HAP) for the Vancouver campus. The HAP, to
be completed by spring 2012, will address issues
of housing affordability and choice on campus
for faculty, students and staff. >
Over the next few months, we invite faculty, staff and students
to let us know about their experiences and suggestions.
To get you thinking about what UBC could do, we will also be\
sharing what our peer universities are doing to address
similar housing challenges.
Find out more and join the conversation!
Visit our blog at bog.ubc.ca
a place of mind
campus+community planning
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Stress, anxiety, depression:
just another part of student
life... right?
Resources and tools can help students build healthy
minds, the first step toward academic success.
By Heather Amos
a place of mind
Stress and anxiety are as synonymous
with university as midterms and
But a growingbody of research says
that these feelings can make it harder
for students to learn and to succeed in
In a 2009 National College Health
Association survey, 40 per cent of UBC
students reported that stress negatively
"Studies have shown
that students find it
much easier to learn
and hear about
mental health from
other students"
affected their academic performance,
30 per cent were affected by anxiety,
and 16 per cent by depression. The
results led UBC to make student mental
health a priority, with the ultimate goal
of giving students the best chance at
academic success.
"There is a move towards integrating
mental health promotion into practices
across campus," says Patty Hambler,
a student development officer who
is helping to organize UBC's annual
Thrive Week, a series of events that
encourage healthy living.
Now in its third year, Thrive will
highlight mental health as the central
theme during outreach and activities
taking place October 17-21. Thrive aims
to teach the UBC community how to
build resiliency and prevent mental
health concerns. It will also provide
information about the programs,
supports and services in place at UBC to
promote mental well-being.
Hambler says, "There is a growing
motivation to talk about mental health
on campus."
This is a trend that Michael Lee,
a curriculum coordinator for UBC's
Masters of Occupational Therapy
Program, has noticed too. Five years
ago, as part of a class assignment, he
and a small group of students started
holding information sessions about
the prevalence of mental illness and its
impact on student life. These sessions
were limited to students studying
occupational or physical therapy but
interest grew quickly.
"Studies have shown that students
find it much easier to learn and hear
about mental health from other
students," says Lee. "The stigma
surrounding mental health makes it a
difficult issue to talk about."
Last year, Lee's class project became
the UBC Mental Health Awareness
Club, a campus-wide AMS club with
the mandate to raise awareness about
mental health issues and decrease the
UBC Reports The University of British Columbia   October 2011
stigma around mental illness.
The club now has more than 100
members and is run by co-presidents
Victor Tang, a graduate student
studying neuroscience, and Kevin Ly,
a fourth year Arts student majoring in
international relations and geography.
For Thrive, the Mental Health
Awareness Club is hosting a movie
event. "We're showing clips from
movies that portray mental illness and
then discussing the issues shown,"
says Ly.
Another initiative the club is
working on this year is a campaign,
called the "One in Five" campaign,
which aims to raise awareness about
the prevalence of mental illness.
Ly and Tang will present facts about
mental illness and profile individuals
from a variety of backgrounds who
have experienced mental illness.
"One in five Canadians will develop
some form of mental illness in their
lifetime," says Tang. "We want to
reduce the stigma by helping people
understand how prevalent it is."
"If you break your arm, you go
to the doctor," says Lee. "People
experiencing mental health
issues won't do that—they isolate
themselves. As society grows more
aware, those who need help will be
more likely to open up."
Mental wellness
across campuses
For the first time, UBC's Okanagan
campus will also hold Thrive.
"We are promoting positive mental
health for all, meaning students,
staff and faculty at both campuses,"
says Tracey Hawthorn, a work
re-integration and accommodation
program coordinator and a Thrive
coordinator in the Okanagan.
At both campuses, mental health
promotion is a growing priority of
Focus on People, UBC's Human
Resources strategy. Hawthorn says
it's not just students who need to build
mental well-being—a view echoed
by Suzanne Jolly, health promotions
coordinator for UBC Human
"Faculty and staff can't promote
student mental health if they aren't
looking out for their own well-being,"
says Jolly. "They need to take care of
themselves in order to help students
and role model healthy behavior." •
For more information, visit:
Heathy Wheel adapted from Amundson, N.E (2003)7/ie Physics of Living and Hettler, B. (1976).
How to thrive at UBC:
eight dimensions
of well-being
The theme for Thrive Week 2011 is:
"Building positive mental health for all." Positive menta
health incorporates all aspects of a well-balanced life.
Here are some strategies and resources to help you
achieve balance and thrive all year long:
Physical Health: Get physical during your
breaks by taking a walking tour designed
by Campus and Community Planning.
Maps are available from their office or
online, (www.planning.ubc.ca)
Financial Health: Take advantage of your
student or faculty/staff extended medical
benefits plan to save money on health
care expenses.
Social Wellbeing: Invite a new friend
to lunch and learn about healthy,
sustainable food at Sprouts in the
Student Union Building or the Loop in the
UBC Centre for Interactive Research on
Intellectual Wellbeing: Explore UBC
Events to find a free lecture, event or
speaker series to learn about a new
topic, such as Frames of Mind
Personal Balance: Get to know yourself
and your limits. Find strategies that work
for you by visiting the Healthy Minds
(students) or the Healthy UBC blogs
Play: Have fun trying something new!
Diversify your physical activity pursuits
by exploring all that UBC REC has
to offer for leagues, events and classes.
Emotional Wellness: Manage your
stress by learning to meditate on Fridays
at noon with the free UBC meditation
sessions offered by Healthy Minds and
Health Promotion Programs.
Spiritual Wellness: Explore opportunities
for spiritual connection and growth
through the UBC Multi-faith Chaplain's
Readv to
October 20,10:20 a.m.
1  H
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iMi i ill
The University is participating
in ShakeOut BC on October 20
at 10:20 a.m. and would like
everyone on campus to join in
------ ---- ■' 'steps:
"Drop, Cover and Hold.'
ShakeOut BC is the largest earthquake drill in Canadian
History. Earlier this year, more than 470,000 people
participated in the first ShakeOut BC. The drill will
henceforth be on the third Thursday of October annually.
www.riskmanagement.ubc.ca outtakes
Reflections on academic life
Shape shifting plastics
By Lorraine Chan
Srikantha Phani (left) and Jayachandran Kizhakkedathu test small strips of PVC.
Some KukU Pasta
inafoari ■ pasta ■ plna ■ wlnn bar
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Shape-shifting plastics—a much-favoured material for superheroes and
iiber spies —are now possible thanks to a fortuitous discovery at UBC.
Jayachandran Kizhakkedathu, an investigator at UBC's Centre for Blood Research,
noticed something intriguing in his quest to develop new surface coatings for
medical implants and storage containers to hold blood or biosensors.
Assoc. Prof. Kizhakkedathu found that certain coatings caused the plastic film to
morph and then revert back to its original shape.
To solve the mystery, he invited Srikantha Phani, Canada Research Chair in
Dynamics of Lattice Materials and Devices, to design a series of experiments.
Recently detailed in the journal Angewandte Chemie, Phani and Kizhakkedathu
developed a novel protocol for grafting nanoscale polymer chains to the surface of
polyvinylchloride (PVC) film. Polymers are large molecules composed of repeating
structural units made up of small molecules that are chemically bonded together.
The researchers coated a small strip of PVC on one side with polymer chains. The
team observed that the plastic curls into a loop when submerged in water. And when
the PVC strip was coated on both sides with polymer chains and dipped into water,
the plastic expanded and stretched up to 10 per cent beyond its original length.
"As far as we know, we're the first group in the world to show this is possible in soft
material systems, says Phani, assistant professor of mechanical engineering.
Phani explains the grafted polymer chains on the surface resemble toothbrush
bristles and can react to external stimuli such as heat, light, electricity and pH.
"The response translates into a mechanical reaction and force that causes the
plastic to bend and change shape."
"As far as we know, we're the first group
in the world to show this is possible
in soft material systems.1
"This is significant for future biomedical possible uses such as catheters that go
into the human body, artificial muscles or sensors," says Kizhakkedathu, who also
teaches in the departments of chemistry and pathology.
Collaborating on the project are postdoctoral fellow Yuquan Zou at the Centre for
Blood Research, Prof. Donald Brooks, who is jointly appointed to the departments
of chemistry and pathology, and Dept. of Mechanical Engineering undergraduate
student Adriel Lam. •
Videos of the UBC experiments can be viewed at:
To read the Angewandte Chemie paper, visit:
www.sites.mech.ubc.ca/~phani/Publications/YZ_AL_JKN_SP_Soft%20Materials.pdf k
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