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UBC Reports Feb 5, 2004

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VOLUME  50   I  NUMBER  2   I   FEBRUARY  5,2004
2 UBC in the News
3 Injured Workers
5 Engineering a Solution
7 Kissometer
8 Teens in Crisis
Best Places to Kiss on Campus
Your choices for the most romantic setting, by brian lin
From the romantic to the risque, Valentine's Day often takes
the blame for a surge in public displays of affection - or PDAs
- among lovers who can't keep their lips off each other
We surveyed the campus for the best location to lock lips.
Kisser discretion is advised.
Both the Rose Garden and the top of the Clock Tower seem
to be big hits with students.
"Sitting on the wall at the edge of the Rose Garden, watching the sail boats cruise by with the backdrop of a perfect summer sunset," says Megan Thomas, news editor of The
Ubyssey. "But who you are kissing is really more important
than the venue!"
Not citing any personal experience - nor that of his friends,
for that matter - AMS VP External Affairs Sam Saini says the
Rose Garden would be his pick for a romantic kiss, while the
top of the Clock Tower "seems like a pretty wild place for that
sort of stuff."
For a "highly artistic" kiss, AMS President Oana Chirila
suggests the top of the Buchanan Tower, but warns that it's not
for the weak of heart.
The middle of the Pit dance floor and backstage at Chan
Centre during a concert were among her top picks, followed
by the backyard of the Cecil Green Park House.
Sauder School of Business Marketing professor Kathleen
Vohs agrees.
"I attended a beautiful wedding at Cecil Green Park House
last fall," says Vohs, who was recently chosen one of 10 Most
Eligible Bachelorettes by The Vancouver Sun.
"It just made me want to get married there as soon as I
For more private displays of affection, Science student Sarah
Kittle recommends the stacks in the bottom floor of the Main
Library and "the cage" in the West Storage of the Student
Recreation Centre.
"My friends and I were just talking about it the other day,"
says Kittle ofthe secured structure for athletic equipment. "We
thought it'd be a great place to make out."
Korean exchange students and valentines Yeohoon
Park and Myung Suk Cha prefer Wreck Beach and the
Rose Garden for smooches.
University Counsel Hubert Lai can't resist the beauty and
tranquility of the Nitobe Garden.
"It's one of the undiscovered gems of the UBC campus, with
many quiet nooks to sit with someone special and contemplate
all that life has to offer."
Community Affairs director Sid Katz has been in love with
a spot right outside Cecil Green Coach House for more than
25 years.
"It's without a doubt the best place to kiss, especially since
the recent addition of a park bench," says Katz, who recalls
daily walks there from the Dept. of Pharmacy when he first
arrived at UBC in 1975.
"I was probably a lot more romantic then," says Katz. "But
who can resist the view overlooking Howe Sound, especially
on an August evening when the sun is setting?"
For indoor lip-locks, Herbert Rosengarten, executive director of the President's Office, says you can't beat the old dining
room on the lower floor of the University Centre.
"This is where my wife Amanda - a UBC grad - and I were
married many years ago, and where we exchanged our first
marital kiss - in public, of course!" □
Sid Katz's quarter-century love affair with the Cecil
Green cliff has been made easier with a new park bench.
io favourite spots to kiss on campus:
Cecil Green Park House
Cecil Green Coach House
Student Recreation Centre
Nitobe Garden
University Centre
Rose Garden
Clock Tower
Buchanan Tower
Chan Centre
Main Library
Workshop Helps to Separate Fact from Fiction in Real Life Stories
Finding the truth is not easy, by cristina calboreanu
What do we read when we read
auto/biography? And what exactly are
we watching when we watch auto/biographical plays?
We commonly expect to find the truth
in auto/biographical narratives and
plays. But, as one of UBC's experts in
auto/biography studies explains, that
expectation may not be entirely realistic.
"Auto/biography is something compiled, written, or produced, by another
human being, so it's a form of art in its
own right," explains English professor
Sherrill Grace. "And that is manifestly
the case when we're talking about theatre, because there are all these other
players who come in: playwright, director, actors, script, stage manager, lights
and stage designer"
According to Grace, auto/biographical plays have become more and more
common in 20th century literature, but
the interplay between theatre and
auto/biography, and the reasons for the
prevalence of the genre have still to be
investigated. That is what an innovative
exploratory workshop organized by
UBC's English and Theatre departments
with support from the Peter Wall
Institute for Advanced Studies, the UBC
Hampton Fund and the McLean Chair
for Canadian Studies, has set out to do.
The workshop, titled "Putting a Life
on Stage", will explore the challenges of
staging and performing auto/biography.
It includes keynote lectures, panel sessions, and roundtable discussions featuring a stellar cast of scholars from around
the world and some of Canada's most
respected playwrights, including Sharon
Pollock, Joy Coghill, Mavor Moore and
Linda Griffiths.
The focal point of the workshop is a
performance of Song of This Place, by
renowned UBC alumna Joy Coghill. The
play, which explores a storyteller's struggle to portray B.C. artist Emily Carr on
stage, is, according to director Robert
More, "unique" in its approach and its
courage to examine "the creative process
and the artistic vision in itself." It contains
both biographical and autobiographical
elements, which are explored through the
use of Bunraku-style puppets, or animated masks, held by manipulators visible to
the audience. Four UBC students will give
life to the 19 puppets.
"We're moving across a divide here, by
involving students in a live play production," says Grace. "Working with Robert
More, who is Canada's leading expert on
puppets, they're getting a course in a very
specialized area which is not part of the
regular curriculum."
For the students, this is an opportunity
and also a challenge. "The manipulators
are walking, listening apparati," explains
More. "They must be an open channel to
serve the mask and the script. All the
acting dials must be dimmed down
and the emotions released into the
mask, so that the audience can
believe the mask is a living breath-   i
ing being."
And that's not easy.  Says  I
More, "I can bring them tech-   A
nique, but that isn't going to J
make you go,  'God,  that's ^
Emily Carr,' and be astonished.   I
They have to listen to the mask
and respond, listen to the text and
to their fellow actors, and be empa-
thetic to everything around them.
Learning to be that open and confident could take 20 years of acting."
For Grace, this production of
Song of This Place is an experiment, but also a way of bringing
together two worlds.  "This event
doesn't fit into the academic mode and it
bursts beyond the theatre production to
bring the two together," she explains.
"We tend to live in disciplinary solitudes,
but it is exciting and mutually beneficial
when academia and theatre meet."
The workshop runs February
18-22. For more information, visit
http://autobiography.arts.ubc.ca. □ 2  |  UBC  REPORTS  |  FEBRUARY  5,  2OO4
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EMAIL: public.affairs@ubc.ca
Highlights of UBC Media Coverage in January 2004. compiled by brian lin
Bounce at The Bell
UBC professor Heather McKay has
conducted a pilot study that followed almost 100 students who had
similar eating habits and physical
activity levels. The only
difference was that half of them
jumped at the bell (just five jumps,
three times a day) and half of them
did not jump.
McKay found that those who had
jumped actually built 3.2 per cent
more bone mass in the hip region of
the body than the other children.
That could be enough to postpone,
or perhaps event prevent,
osteoporosis later in life.
"We're talking about these
children gaining in eight months
what we would see women lose in
three years around menopause,"
McKay told ABC News.
"It takes no money to run the
program," said McKay. "It takes no
special training, and we're talking
about an investment of about a
minute and a half a day."
Researchers Study
Newborns' Pain at Being
UBC Nursing professor Fay
Warnock is leading a research study
on the pain babies sustain from circumcisions. The researchers systematically note and itemize the behaviour of 10 baby boys during circumcision, recording each head twitch,
each leg kick, each eye squeezing.
Warnock told the National Post
that this kind of detailed data collection meant exhaustive and successive viewing of each of these 90-
minute tapes on a second-by-second
Warnock says her work "is very
basic in that it is focused on detailing normally occurring newborn
pain-related distress behaviours...
Its usefulness is conceptual and,
hopefully, will result in a deeper and
more comprehensive descriptive
understanding   of   newborn   pain
Hush little baby: Fay Warnock's
study focuses on circumcision
because it is "an intense form of
newborn acute pain."
She says the study focused on circumcision because it is "an intense
form of newborn acute pain," but
stressed that further research in this
area requires ongoing descriptions
of other kinds of acute pain.
Anorexia May Cause
The malnutrition that results from
the eating disorder anorexia nervosa may cause emphysema,
according to a study lead by UBC
radiology professor Harvey O.
Coxson, also a VCHRI member.
Researchers used a new method
of assessing computed tomography
(CT) scans to analyze the lungs of
14 anorexia patients and found the
malnutrition in these patients
changed the physical structure of
their lungs.
"There is a reduction in the
amount of lung tissue in patients
with anorexia nervosa,"Coxson told
CBS News.
"It is unclear whether these structural changes are permanent, but if
they are, early therapy is important
in patients who have anorexia,"
Coxson says.
Man bites dog? No, Planet
Heats Sun
UBC astronomer Evgenya Shkolnik
has found a planet that is actually
heating up its sun.
Shkolnik's study of a large planet
orbiting a star 90 light-years away
shows that the magnetic field of the
planet is producing hot spots on its
parent sun, a reversal of the effect
the sun has on planets such as the
"The hotspot moves across the
surface of the star keeping pace with
the planet, but just a little bit
ahead," Shkolnik told USA Today.
She said measurements of more than
100 orbits showed that the
hot spot on the face of the star exactly matches the motion of the planet.
Use the 'Force'
For the many who sometimes walk
into a room and feel that something
is not quite right, the answer may lie
in a sub-system of our visual
experience, according to a new study
on visual perception by UBC psychology and computer
science professor Ronald Rensink.
"Basically visual perception then
is two parts. It's got the sort of pictures we all know and love, and then
we've got this other thing, this feeling, this using the force, this sensing
stream, and they work in parallel, I
think. They both operate at the same
time," Rensink told the National
While you may not see anything,
Rensink says the "sixth sense" or as
he calls it, "mindsight," is basically
another kind of vision where people
can sense a change and have a
visual experience of it. □
Dear Editor:
As co-chairs of this year's campaign, we are
delighted to announce that, thanks to the
exceptional work of our volunteers and thanks
to the continued support of our donors, we have
raised the phenomenal total of $511,150.08 for
United Way of the Lower Mainland.  Not only
have we hit our goal but we have exceeded it by
over $11,000 - truly outstanding!
A campaign like this is a huge team effort and
such a fabulous total could not have been
achieved without everyone being generous with
their time, talents, creativity and money. Everyone
should be very proud of their contribution to this
campaign, whether they are a donor, volunteer
or supporter.  Of the $511,150.08 raised,
$350,000 was undesignated - so we can all feel
good about the impact these dollars will make
in our community.
On behalf of United Way of the Lower
Mainland and all the people who will benefit from
our contribution, thank you!
Eilis Courtney
Deborah Austin
2003 UBC United Way Campaign
Director, Public Affairs
Scott Macrae  scott.macrae@ubc.ca
Paul Patterson  paul.patterson@ubc.ca
Design Director
Chris Dahl  chris.dahl@ubc.ca
Sharmini Thiagarajah  sharmini@exchange.ubc.ca
Cristina Calboreanu  mccalbor@exchange.ubc.ca
Michelle Cook michelle.cook@ubc.ca
Brian Lin  brian.lin@ubc.ca
Erica Smishek erica.smishek@ubc.ca
Hilary Thomson  hilary.thomson@ubc.ca
Cristina Calboreanu  mccalbor@exchange.ubc.ca
UBC Reports is published monthly by the UBC Public Affairs Office
310 - 6251 Cecil Green Park Road
Vancouver BC Canada V6T IZI
UBC Reports welcomes submissions.
For upcoming UBC Reports submission guidelines, please see
www.publicaffairs.ubc.ca/ubcreports/about. Opinions and
advertising published in UBC Reports do not necessarily reflect
official university policy. Material may be reprinted in whole
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Letters (300 words or less) must be signed and include
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The Editor, UBC Reports
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paul.patterson@ubc.ca or call UBC.NEWS (604.822.6397) UBC  REPORTS  |  FEBRUARY  5,  2OO4  |  3
Protecting Young Workers from Crippling
I njUrieS      UBC researcher searches for solutions, by Hilary Thomson
An 18-year-old sawmill worker was
fatally crushed when a log he was
attempting to straighten rolled off the
skid of an infeed deck.
A 21-year-old lumber piler entered a
hazard area without turning off the
power. He sustained a crushing injury
to his foot resulting in five severed toes.
An 18-year-old power press operator
had his right hand and forearm
crushed when he reached into the die
press to remove some jammed material. He had been on this job for two
weeks at the time ofthe accident.
These real-life incidents taken from a
Workers' Compensation Board of B.C.
(WCB) report called Protecting Young
Workers illustrate how young workers,
15-24 years old, account for the highest rate of compensation claims among
all age groups in B.C.
Besides being a tough way to begin
working life, these injuries may possibly be the start of long-term health
consequences, according to UBC
researcher Mieke Koehoorn.
An assistant professor in the
department of health care and
epidemiology, Koehoorn has launched
a study that looks at the experiences of
young workers in B.C. She wants to
know if persistent symptoms from
early work injuries result in increased
usage of health-care services in the long
term, beyond workers' compensation
"Young people have higher claim
rates mainly due to inexperience,"
says Koehoorn, who is a Michael
Smith Foundation for Health
Research Scholar. "New workers may
be too intimidated to ask questions
about safety, not yet prepared in terms
of work or safety training or so eager
to prove themselves on the job that
they perform tasks they're unfamiliar
In addition, young workers are
often assigned low-end jobs that carry
the greatest risk factors. As new workers, they are often unable to recognize
workplace hazards and are unaware
of their rights as workers to operate in
a safe environment.
In a two-year study, funded by the
WCB, Koehoorn will examine data
that covers the 15-year period from
1985-2000. Using WCB and provincial health records, she will assess if
young workers with a compensation
claim have more contact over time
with the health-care system than individuals of the same age, sex and geographic location.
She thinks young workers may seek
continued medical attention outside
the compensation system because,
although they have symptoms after
the claim is closed, they don't know
how to re-open a claim. Also, they
may be reluctant to take further time
off work that will damage their fledgling work record.
Industries where young workers are
most likely to be injured include retail
industries for 15-19-year olds, and for
workers 20-24 years old the majority
of claims come from the retail, manufacturing, construction and forestry
sectors. Common injuries include back
and other strains, cuts and bruises.
Koehoorn hopes that her research
findings will lead to a better understanding of the impact of work-related
injuries and help to direct more
resources to prevention and regulatory
efforts aimed specifically at young
For more information on injuries to
young workers, visit
ports and click on the focus report
called Protecting Young Workers. □
Did you know?
UBC projects received more
than $1.6 million in funding
from the WCB Research
Secretariat in 2003, out of a
total of $1.8 million awarded to
all institutions.
The Research Secretariat
launched its first annual
research competition in
November 2000. The mission
of the secretariat is to support
scientific research that will lead
to a reduction in the incidence
and severity of work-related
injury and disease. □
No More Line-Ups: New Online Banking Service
Saves Time and Money
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Line-ups have dramatically decreased in Brock Hall since the launch of the
Electronic Funds Transfer service.
UBC students have a new way
to pay tuition and other fees
online - Electronic Funds
Transfer (EFT). Students can
transfer funds from their bank
account and pay whichever UBC
fees they choose - whenever they
UBC is the first university in
Canada to offer this form of
EFT. It gives students complete
control over how and when they
pay their fees. It's fast,
user-friendly, and cheaper - for
both students and the university -
than credit card payments, currently the most frequently-used
form of online payment.
To pay by EFT, students log on
to the Student Services Centre
web site. EFT is part of
Enrolment Services' Consolidated
Billing initiative. For details, visit
www.e-strategy.ubc.ca. □
4103 W. 10th Ave.
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Research Awareness Week
MARCH 6-13 2004
Research Awareness Week 2004 will highlight and celebrate the
outstanding research in all fields that is continually underway
at the university. Innovation is encapsulated at UBC by crossing
boundaries in four ways - from idea to product, from university
to community, from discipline to discipline and from research to
UBC main campus, UBC Robson Square and our affiliated hospitals
will host numerous free public forums, symposia, research days
and exhibits on topics ranging from health research, ethics of
patents and drug developments to the impact of advanced
technology on the workplace. Key issues affecting cities and
public policy will also be featured.
Please go to our online Event Calendar for full details
and registration: www.research.ubc.ca
We would like to thank Discovery Parks for their generous support. 4     I
REPORTS      |       FEBRUARY     5,      2OO4
UBC Engineering Students Raise the
Quality of Life in East Timor Village
Engineers Without Borders is making a difference, by cristina calboreanu
Villagers in Usu'un, East Timor live off
the land. They farm and they fish. It is
not easy being a farmer in a place like
this, what with nigged terrain, poor
soils, and unpredictable rainfall. And it's
even harder when you live in a country
where 70 per cent of the physical infrastructure was destroyed in an armed
conflict in which nearly three quarters of
the population was displaced.
Seemingly small things can easily
throw off the delicate balance of this life.
Things like how long it takes to dry the
food that needs to be preserved.
It usually takes more than five days,
during which time large amounts of fruit
and fish are wasted due to parasitic contamination. That means there will be
less to eat.
And that is what UBC third-year
Integrated Engineering student Monica
Rucki was trying to prevent during her
four-month internship with Engineers
Without Borders last summer. Rucki
worked to build solar dryers that would
cut the drying time for fish and fruit to
less than two days. Prototypes were built
from locally available, inexpensive materials, and locals were trained how to
build and maintain the dryers.
Rucki's experience in East Timor was
just one example of the work done by
Engineers Without Borders (EWB),
whose 3,700 members are working on
30 projects in 20 countries to promote
human development through access to
technology and a focus on building
capacity in the local communities.
"It's an attempt at finding sustainable
solutions, as opposed to giving something away and then leaving, which is
not particularly useful," says Brendan
Baker, a recent Metals and Materials
Engineering graduate who will be traveling to Senegal later this year for an
eight-month internship. He will help
develop and implement technologies
that will allow locals to process the
peanuts and cashew nuts they grow,
thus increasing their value. "They found
that the nuts are worth next to nothing
if sold as grown, in shells - but if they
can shell them, skin them, roast them
and then package them, then they're
worth much more on the local, national
and international market," explains
The UBC chapter of EWB was
founded in 2001 and is already one of
the fastest growing and most active in
the country.
"We focus on promoting awareness
of international development and global
issues among students and the
Vancouver community," says Rucki,
co-president of the UBC chapter. "We
do that through our internships abroad,
through our local projects, and our
Speaker Series here on campus."
The UBC chapter is involved in a
variety of overseas projects, such as
Scala, an EWB-owned Information and
Communications Technology (ICT)
project developed in partnership with
the Filipino government. The UBC
Chapter is trying to raise 40 computers
and $15,000 that will go towards setting
up ICT training centres in the
Philippines, helping Filipino youth develop computer literacy skills and increase
their employability. They are hoping
some of these youth will in turn become
computer teachers able to keep the ICT
training centres alive. "The long-term
hope is that the centres are able to self-
sustain," explains project leader Jordan
As part of the UBC chapter's local
projects, volunteers with the Scala project have partnered with the Learning
Exchange to offer free IT classes in shelters in the Downtown Eastside. EWB-
UBC also organizes a High School
Outreach program aimed at educating
high school students about engineering,
appropriate technology and international development. The program is supported by Aeroplan members donating
their Aeroplan miles through the Miles
Without Borders donation program.
Being involved in so many different
projects, locally and across the world,
has helped EWB-UBC move beyond the
confinements of an engineering club.
They are now actively trying to recruit
students from different fields (such as
commerce or political science) who
would be interested in putting their
knowledge and experience to work.
"International development is multi-
disciplinary" says Rucki. "To develop
new ideas, you need to involve people
with different backgrounds, different
educations, and different experiences."
Of course, you also need awareness
of international development and global issues, which, they say, is conspicuously absent from the academic curriculum - at least when it comes to engineering.
"There is often a complete lack of
study of the social and environmental
issues surrounding what we do as engineers," says Baker, the director of curriculum change for the UBC chapter
"UBC is very good technically, but these
aspects are often neglected to the detriment of some of the broader and more
complicated issues." That is why EWB
is aiming to implement a student-directed seminar on international development, based on their experience in
developing countries and provided as a
full-credit science and technology course
for second-year engineering students.
They're hoping to promote awareness
of global issues and to educate engineering students to recognize that international development is "a two-way
"Often there is a perception that
we're sending people over there to teach
and to impart our knowledge to the
local people, and that's not true," says
Baker "In fact, it may be even more so
that you're learning how things are
done and how the world works, and
you can bring that back and use it here.
We hope to see a huge difference in the
way things are done here, in terms of
addressing issues overseas and even in
terms of how we address issues here in
"One of the greatest things I brought
back was just humility," adds Rucki.
"You gain an immense appreciation for
the fact that there are other ways to live
than just the way we live, that really
work and that make people happy." □
The Faculty of Medicine, University of British Columbia invites applications and
nominations for the position of Associate Dean, Clinical Faculty Affairs. This is a
part time position expected to be filled by an internal candidate and is available
lanuary 1st, 2004.
The incumbent will be a part of the senior management team of the Faculty
of Medicine and report to the Dean. The senior management team provides
support to the Departments, Schools, Centres and faculty members. The Associate
Dean will provide leadership to the clinical activities of the Faculty of Medicine.
This would include but not be limited to representing the issues of medical
practice within the Faculty, ensuring that clinical faculty members have
appropriate mechanisms for support and recognition of their key contributions
to the Faculty, supporting the wellness of clinical faculty members and providing
leadership for the Office of Clinical Faculty Affairs. The Associate Dean would
provide a key interface with other organizations related to medical affairs. The
role would also include consideration of the broader group of Faculty members
engaged in clinical practice within the distributed model of medical education
in British Columbia and specifically, the Island Medical Program and the Northern
Medical Program.
The University of British Columbia hires on the basis of merit and is committed
to employment equity. We encourage all qualified persons to apply.
Applications, accompanied by a detailed curriculum vitae and names of three
references, should be directed by February 29, 2004 to: Gavin C.E. Stuart, MD,
Dean, Faculty of Medicine, University of British Columbia, Room 317,
Instructional Resources Centre, 2194 Health Sciences Mall, Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z3.
Living and working in East Timor
(clockwise from top): Inspecting the
irrigation system in a rice field; a
traditional "lulik" or magic hut; a
bamboo fence weaving workshop;
teaching locals how to make fertile soil
from manure, legumes and compost.
Build your
future at ubc
The first co-development project on the UBC
campus, Hawthorn Green, is now underway. 10
townhouses are being 'co-developed' by 10
enterprising faculty and staff members. The group
has appointed UBC Properties as Project Manager.
Following this success, a second co-development
group is now evolving. Plans are being formulated
for a larger townhouse development to be situated
adjacent to a new park and close to the Hawthorn
Place Community Centre.
To obtain an application
form, please email:
or call: 604-731-3103
This is not an offering for sale. The townhouses may only he sold pursuant to disclosure materials prescribed by legislation 1C  REPORTS  |  FEBRUARY  5,  2OO4  |  5
UBC Project Makes
Life Easier for Those
Suffering from Aphasia
Team designs communication aids
(with files from Gayle Mavor, Computer Science Dept.)
Anita Borg, founder of the Institute for
Women in Technology in Palo Alto,
California, was passionate about using
technology to better people's lives.
Those who knew her say she was a brilliant engineer with a compelling vision
and a way of presenting it that would
make people sit up and listen.
When Borg was diagnosed with
advanced brain cancer in May 2000, her
long-time friend Maria Klawe, UBC's
former science dean, says, "It felt like the
sun had gone behind a huge cloud."
Borg survived the cancer for much
longer than expected but, by 2002, had
developed aphasia, a condition that
affects a person's ability to process and
use language while leaving their mental
faculties intact. It most often occurs after
a stroke but it can also result from a
brain tumour or brain injury.
But cancer and aphasia could not
defeat Borg's vitality and enthusiasm.
She was determined to use her expertise
in technology to find ways to overcome
her difficulties communicating. She and
Klawe began brainstorming. Their discussion laid the groundwork for a
remarkable initiative now underway at
UBC called the Aphasia Project.
"Anita was having increasing difficulty with speech, reading and writing,"
recalls Klawe, now Dean of Engineering
at Princeton University. "[But] after realizing that her ability to recognize images
was still completely intact, we decided to
see if computing technology could
enhance her ability to function in a variety of ways."
Klawe shared the pair's initial ideas
with Karyn Moffatt, a UBC graduate
student, and convinced her to take on
the task of designing a computer-based
aid for people with aphasia as her master's thesis project. Klawe also
approached Joanna McGrenere, an
assistant professor of computer science
at UBC and a specialist in human-computer interaction, to work with Moffatt
on her project in addition to exploring
other possibilities.
McGrenere remembers being slightly
daunted by the scope of the challenge.
"Human-computer interaction (HCI)
is a relatively young field. In HCI, where
we're trying to design technology to
work for a broad range of users, and
one group that hasn't received much
attention are people with disabilities,
particularly people with speech and language cognitive disabilities," explains
McGrenere. "The reason this group
doesn't get the same coverage in HCI is
because it's difficult working with participants who have difficulty speaking
and articulating their needs. It just
makes the job of designing technologies
for them that much more challenging."
From the start, it was clear to
McGrenere and Moffatt that, if they
were going to help Borg, they would
need a multidisciplinary team of
experts. They brought in several other
UBC computer science students, along
with psychology professor Peter Graf,
and Barbara Purves, a clinical professor
at the UBC School of Audiology and
Speech Sciences with more than 30
years of experience helping people with
The group wanted to understand the
specific effects the condition had on
Borg's ability to function. McGrenere,
Moffatt and Purves flew to San
Francisco to meet Borg and began
investigating preliminary designs and
potential applications.
Despite her failing health, Borg
showed an enthusiasm for the project
that all three women remember fondly.
"Anita was really inspired to use her
condition in a way that could help other
people, even knowing that she probably
wasn't going to see the benefits of most
of this work," McGrenere says.
But Borg also had specific needs that
she managed to vocalize for the
research team.
"Anita wanted to maintain an active
schedule and she increasingly had to
rely on family members to help manage
her schedule and that's not what she
wanted," says Moffatt. "She had very
real needs so it was easy to envision
how the technology could fit in - how
it could help."
Back in Vancouver, the team began
working with existing technology in the
form of an IPAQ pocket PC running
with the Windows CE operating system. Their goal was to develop a device
that would help Borg and others with
inspired a group of UBC researchers to use technology to help people with aphasia.
aphasia maintain their independence in
carrying out small daily life tasks.
Purves estimates that there are
approximately 100,000 Canadians
with aphasia - about the same number
as suffer from Parkinson's disease. She
says the biggest frustration for those
affected is the impairment of their ability to communicate with words and
writing and to some extent, with gesture and drawing, and with it the
impairment of their ability to communicate who they are and what they are
"Aphasia affects people in different
ways but the thing that is common is
that they're not unable to think, they
just can't get their thoughts out, and
they also have difficulty taking information in," Purves explains. This
makes simple activities like jotting
down a doctor's appointment or
remembering where to meet a friend for
dinner very difficult.
With help from other team members,
Moffatt and McGrenere have developed a prototype for a daily planner
program that runs on a hand-held computer (much like a Palm Pilot). It is
designed so that people who have lost
their ability to recognize words or write
them down can record meetings
and appointments using a combination
of images and sounds and some text.
One of the team's big challenges has
been to understand if people with aphasia will be able to use the planner
they've designed. Through the BC
Aphasia Centre and local stroke clubs
in Vancouver, as well as the Life
Enhancement Aphasia Program in
Victoria, they have enlisted the help of a
group of people living with the condition to assess the prototype and incorporate their ideas on how to improve it.
Moffatt says the support and enthusiasm from the local aphasia community
has been overwhelming.
Sadly, Anita Borg passed away on
April 6, 2003 from brain cancer at the
age of 54. The institute she founded has
since been renamed the Anita Borg
Institute for Women in Technology.
But the UBC Aphasia Project is really just getting started. While Moffatt's
master's thesis - the genesis of the project - is almost complete, there is still
much work to be done on the prototype. There are also several other spinoff projects and case studies in progress.
The team has recruited help from
other collaborators, including Jeff
Riley, an expert in assistive technology
at Vancouver's G.F. Strong Rehab
Centre, and they plan to continue
working with B.C.'s aphasia
community on new prototype technologies.
McGrenere thinks the project could
continue for up to 10 years.
"We're definitely in the foothills,"
she says. "It's a matter of trying to
uncover what the best platforms are
for this kind of work. [There are] various PDAs, cell phones that can send
images back and forth, tablets and a
fair amount of mobile technology
What is clear is that Borg's vision of
technology's potential to help people
lives on in an energetic, imaginative
group of researchers who were motivated by a remarkable woman.
Klawe says her friend would be
thrilled at what the UBC aphasia team
has accomplished in its first year.
"Her family members and doctor
told me that the project brought her
more joy than anything else in the last
few months of her life." □
Old Skill Provides Modern Solution to Heart Valve Replacement
New technique may mean no more broken
breastbones, by Hilary Thomson
Sailors' art goes hi-tech with new non-surgical cardiac procedure.
A traditional sailors' craft was the inspiration for a new
technique to replace heart valves without major surgery.
Much like a ship in a bottle, the procedure involves
inserting a foldable valve through a small incision and
running the valve along a blood vessel into the heart where it
is 'unfurled' and attached remotely - a virtually non-surgical
Valve replacement surgery currently requires breaking ribs
and breastbone to access the heart, a minimum of a week's
hospitalization and considerable recuperation time.
Called Percutaneous Valve Replacement, the new
procedure is being developed by Dr. John Webb, director of
the cardiac catheterization laboratory at St. Paul's Hospital in
Vancouver. Still in the experimental stages, the technique
offers promise for patients who are too ill to survive
traditional valve replacement surgery.
The new method involves a small incision made in the
thigh to allow a tube the size of a pencil to be inserted. The
tube is threaded along the veins up to the heart. Once the
folded valve has been opened and attached in the heart, the
tube is withdrawn. After a couple of stitches for the incision
and a day's rest, the patient would be able to go home.
Sound simple? Not quite, says Webb, who is also a UBC
associate clinical professor of cardiology.
"The new remote procedure is still highly experimental.
We haven't yet tried it on a patient. The tube is about three
feet long and the placement of the valve within the complex
structure of the heart is critical. A few hair widths out of place
and the whole thing is wrong. We have to get it exactly right
every time."
If the technique can be perfected, it would mean huge
health-care savings compared to current methods requiring
an operating room and long hospital stays. Most importantly, it would mean that individuals who are too weak for surgery and unlikely to survive might be saved.
Also, patients would be able to avoid the significant pain
and discomfort of heart valve replacement surgery.
"When they broke my breast bone and ribs to get at my
heart it really hurt," says 86-year-old Eleanor Wetherly
"I was in the hospital for a long time. It was two or three
months before I felt better."
Four valves direct blood to and from the body through the
heart: the aortic valve, the pulmonic valve, the tricuspid valve,
and the mitral valve. Any of these valves may malfunction
because of a birth defect, infection, disease, or trauma. When
the malfunction is so severe that it interferes with blood flow,
an individual will have heart palpitations, fainting spells,
and/or difficulty breathing. These symptoms will progressively worsen and cause death unless the damaged valve is
replaced surgically.
Webb expects it will be at least two years before patients
can benefit from the procedure.
About 80 per cent of Canadians have at least one risk
factor for cardiovascular disease and 11 per cent have three
risk factors or more, according to the Heart and Stroke
Foundation of Canada. Risk factors for cardiovascular
disease include smoking, lack of exercise, being overweight,
and high blood pressure.
For more information on heart disease and treatment, visit
ww2.heartandstroke.ca. □ 6  |  UBC  REPORTS  |  FEBRUARY  5,  2OO4
UBC Public Affairs has opened both a radio and TV studio on campus
where you can do live interviews with local, national and internationa
NEWS TV I RADIO   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
For the Love of Money
A financial planning workshop for recent grads
just in time for tax season!
A lot of us love money, but not many of us relish the annual
chore of working out our taxes - especially when our efforts don't
result in a nice fat return. The Young Alumni Network is offering
recent graduates a workshop that will teach them how to manage
their money efficiently and invest it wisely.
Just in time for the March 1 RRSP deadline, Jonathan
Pagtakhan, BA'98, a financial advisor with CIBC, will teach
workshop participants new investment strategies and ways to
keep the taxman at bay. He'll talk about goal setting, borrowing,
cash flow management, RRSPs, investment planning and asset
allocation. A representative from London Life will also be on
hand to talk about different types of insurance.
Thursday, February 12th
HSBC Hall UBC Robson Square
6:00 pm to 8:00 pm
Cost: $15
For tickets, please contact Sandra:
aluminfo@alumni.ubc.ca or 604-822-3313
Jonathan Pagtakhan is a volunteer on the Young Alumni
Network committee, helping to organize events that will be useful to recent graduates in their professional development (there
are also plenty of opportunities for socializing).
One of Jonathan's favourite memories of UBC is of the couches at Sedgewick Library — perhaps a contender for the best
place to kiss on campus?
For more information about the Young Alumni Network, a
program offered by the UBC Alumni Association, please contact
Dianna DeBlaere at YAmentor@alumni.ubc.ca or 604-822-8917
or visit the website: http://www.alumni.ubc.ca/programs/youn-
galumni/index.html □
Nice Yard.
IMAGINE a 750 hectare park with over 50 kilometers of trails
as your front yard. And after a walk or a run, when you returned
to your home you'd be greeted by wide-open views of the
Pacific Ocean, Coastal Islands and Coast Mountains, surrounded
by countless cultural, social and outdoor opportunities. Now, picture all this in West Point Grey on the grounds of the University
of British Columbia. And finally, consider that this could be the
site of your new home.
Argyll House is a rare collection of apartment homes, penthouses
and townhomes built to the highest standards. And with all that
is best about living in Vancouver at your doorstep, living here
really could be a walk in the park.
For more information call us at 604.228.8100
or visit our website at
9 9       ^lONA BUILDING
Saves Pain
for Patients
and Doctors
Making needles easier to
give and easier to take
(with files from ErinRose Handy,
Applied Science)
Joanne Driscoll (not her real name) has
a deteriorating disc in her spine. To
slow the deterioration down, doctors
must insert a long needle filled with a
steroid into her back every three
It's an experience marked with fear
and anxiety and sometimes, when the
needle misses its mark, excruciating
"I have heard others scream when
this happens and I've wanted to scream
myself. One time it felt like molten lava
coursing down my leg," Driscoll says.
"It is also very stressful for the person
inserting the needle. Once after many
painful failed attempts, a resident actually asked my supervising doctor to put
Retiring Within 5 Years?
Robert Rohling demonstrates the steerable biopsy needles he and fellow
inventors have engineered.
He says the main challenge for doctors is having to imagine where to direct
the needle, without actually being able
to see where it's going. It's a skill that
comes only with experience. The potential dangers are numerous: a misplaced
needle can cause bleeding, pain, or seed
healthy cells with cancerous ones.
"There's a certain anxiety when you
insert a big needle into someone and
time needed to perform it.
Rohling adds that while the cost of
the system is still more than a regular,
disposable needle, the health-care savings will be in the reduction of time it
takes doctors to perform a procedure.
The researchers' next step is to prepare the prototype for clinical trials.
The steerable needle hasn't been
used   on   humans   -   yet.   Instead,
"There's a certain anxiety when you insert a big needle into someone and you
don't know whether you're going to get results or not."
on his gloves and take over my
Needle insertion is one of the most
common medical procedures. It can
also be one of the most nerve-racking
for both medical practitioners and
patients - especially when it involves
the 15-cm-long needles used to reach
regions deep inside the human body.
Now, a group of UBC engineers has
developed a steerable needle to help
doctors hit their target on the first
try - and save their patients the stress
and pain of multiple insertions.
"What's interesting about this needle
is that instead of putting a straight needle into the body and hoping it goes
towards its target, we have a needle
that can steer itself from the tip. It can
guide itself. It's a very smart needle,"
says Prof. Robert Rohling, a professor
jointly appointed to the departments of
mechanical engineering and electrical
and computer engineering and one of
the needle's inventors.
The steerable needle prototype looks
like a stainless-steel barbeque lighter
with a 15-cm hypodermic needle
attached to it. What makes it unique is
that within its barrel, there is a second,
flexible needle with a curved tip. The
second needle can be steered by a joystick on the needle's handle, giving doctors greater accuracy in locating their
target, and make corrections along the
Rohling says the steerable needle
won't change the basic aspects of the
biopsy procedure. Like a conventional
needle, it is inserted into the body by
puncturing the skin at the best access
point, and pushed in until the tip reaches the desired target. The big difference
is that, once inserted, the doctor can use
the thumb-controlled joystick to steer it
along straight or curved paths.
He envisions doctors using the
device in conjunction with ultrasound -
another medical technique he is working to improve.
"The steerable needle will give doctors an extra degree of control,"
Rohling says. "We expect the first
applications will be the more difficult,
deeper insertions [but] it is also possible
that the steerable needle will help a
novice reach their target on the first
attempt - without trial and error."
As the director of Surgical
Techniques Training Programs for
UBC's medical undergraduates, Karim
Qayumi has guided many residents
through the needle insertion procedure.
He's also performed countless needle
insertions himself. He says it's not an
easy experience.
you don't know whether you're going
to get results or not," Qayumi says. "If
the biopsy is in a remote place, even
experienced doctors can have difficulties. They've got to get to the target area
without damaging tissue or causing
Although he has not used the steerable needle, Qayumi welcomes
Rohling's research, with fellow inventors Tim Salcudean, an engineering professor, and master's engineering students
Richelle Ebrahimi and Stephen
Okazawa, to improve the technique of
needle insertion.
Okazawa says the biggest hurdle in
designing the steerable needle prototype
was getting the mechanical and electrical parts to work together with the computer software designed to run the needle. But the result is a one-of-a-kind
device that the research team hopes will
take some of the discomfort out of a
painful procedure, and cut down on the
researchers have been trying it out on
tissue phantoms - simulated pieces of
tissue that Okazawa cooked up in his
own kitchen using agar, a gelatinous
substance obtained from seaweed, and
then embedded with peas and grapes
for target practice.
Even before doctors get their hands
on the first prototype, its inventors are
already thinking about how to improve
the steerable needle's capabilities.
"We look at these types of applications and think ahead to even more
advanced systems where we have computer-aided control," Rohling says.
"The first iteration has a little joystick
and the control is all in the operator's
[doctor's] hand. The second may be to
let the computer handle the joystick
and monitor the needle's progress and
provide the corrections. Eventually, a
robotics system may take care of both
pushing the needle and steering
the tip." □
While there may be many popular places to kiss on campus,
in 1951 UBC engineers were concerned with the quality of the
kiss not the location. That year, at the annual Engineer's Ball,
the most popular attraction was the Kissometer.  Engineers
claimed it registered the intensity, heat, and pressure of the
kiss, and then transformed them to a numerical rating on the
needle graph. When the needle hit ten, a large red neon sign
with the letters "STOP" lit up. It was reported in the 1951
UBC yearbook that few patrons of the ball missed out on a
trip to the Kissometer. □
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"Frank and Don made me feel very comfortable with their advice and
long range planning. Their knowledge of the faculty pension plan is
also a plus for UBC professors. "
Dr. J. H. McNeill,
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Call or e-mail today for a complimentary retirement analysis
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www.mediagroup.ubc.ca REPORTS      |      FEBRUARY     5,     2 O O 4
2004 President's Service Award
For Excellence Nominations
The committee is seeking nominations of outstanding staff and
faculty who have contributed outstanding service to the university
For a nomination form, please go to
Please mail nominations to:
Deadline for nominations is Feb 27,2004
The STEPS-Forward Inclusive Post-Secondary Education Society
advocates for, and facilitates, the inclusion of students with
intellectual disabilities in post-secondary institutions in British
Columbia. The goals of the society are to advance the values of
inclusion, active citizenship, and diversity in all communities. In
September 2003, with the financial support of the Vancouver
Foundation, and the support and cooperation of UBC and Emily Carr
Institute of Art and Design, STEPS-Forward began assisting students
with intellectual disabilities to audit regular classes and participate in
campus life. In May 2004, STEPS Co-op will begin placing students
in summer jobs with the cooperation of local Rotary clubs and the
support ofthe Vancouver Foundation.
Teenager Sean Carleton's artwork is basis for look of site, developed by Cossette Interactive Vancouver.
For Teens in Crisis, Help can be a Click Away k
UBC Education professor pilots web-based crisis hotline for youth
Peter Wall Institute for
Advanced Studies
Exploratory Workshop
The PWIAS T'.xploratorv Workshop Program
provides awards of $1 5,000 to $25,000 to interdisciplinary teams of UBC researchers io bring
outstanding hnerriationaJ experts to the University
to explore new research initiatives.  The proposal
should he hroadlv interdisciplinary and involve
basic research. The deadline for the Spring 2004
competition is March 1st.
for /ffore itijormatiotj, inniact ibe Waif fastihiic by
phone {604} K22-47R2, nre-mail 'mftf,Qpu<iiis.tihi\ca
or mil our wb n't? at wu\f>9-taf,/fbt.M
Youth in crisis in the Lower Mainland
can now turn to their computers for help.
UBC Education professor Shelley
Hymel is piloting Canada's first web-
based "hotline" for youth in collaboration with the Crisis Intervention &
Suicide Prevention Centre of B.C. (Crisis
Centre in Vancouver) and SAFER
(Suicide Attempt Follow-up, Education
and Research) Counselling Service.
"Young people are increasingly comfortable with computers and may use the
web to seek support in a time of crisis,"
says Hymel, an expert on bullying and
youth in crisis. "We want to find an effective way to reach them.
"Kids need to talk. If they're talking on
the Lower Mainland. It features a one-
on-one free and confidential link
enabling youth to talk to someone
online, in real time (limited number of
hours); an e-mail address for youth to
write about their problems and receive
a guaranteed response in 24 to 48
hours; the 24-hour Distress Line phone
number to the Crisis Centre in
Vancouver as well as links to other crisis centres in B.C.; a list of youth-preferred resources available in the Lower
Mainland; and information and facts
about common problems that youth
face, including bullying and harassment, stress, suicidal feelings and
teenage pregnancy.
National Crime Prevention Canada's
Community Mobilization Program.
Critical to the success of this unique
online resource was the support of At
Large Media and Cossette Interactive
"We jumped in," says Ian Ross, executive director of the Crisis Centre in
Vancouver, a registered non-profit
organization that has provided free programs and services, including a 24-hour,
7-days a week Distress Line, to people of
all ages and walks of life since 1969.
"We were on the same wavelength with
Shelley and SAFER. It was really natural
for us to move into an online service."
Distress Line volunteers receive 60
"We don't do therapy online. We focus on providing non-judgmental support to callers
through the 'art of listening' and then if appropriate provide options and resources."
the web, then that's where we need to
The web-based hotline is a place where
youth can comfortably talk about issues
they are facing at school, at home and in
the community, such as relationship or
family problems, bullying, racial discrimination, mental health issues, victimization, addictions and more. The site allows
youth to connect with volunteers aged 19
to 25 who have been specially trained to
provide crisis intervention, psychological
first aid, support and resource information.
The site went live in January and is
being promoted in Burnaby secondary
schools through the 2003/04 school year,
with the potential to expand throughout
If you're like most faculty and staff, your day starts in traffic. Fortunately, there are other
options. UBC is creating residential neighbourhoods around the academic core that offer
urban living, recreational and cultural amenities in a spectacular physical setting.
Faculty and staff could be among the first to have the opportunity to rent or own.
For example, through the innovative co-development housing program, you could join a
group to purchase and develop your own home. To register for an information session,
call 604.731.3103 or email info.universitytown@ubc.ca
For more information visit www.universitytown.ubc.ca, or call 604.731.3103 to register.
"We did a lot of brainstorming with
kids about what would work," says
Hymel. "One of our graduate students,
Rina Bonanno, conducted focus groups
with secondary students and asked
them what they wanted on the site.
They said, 'give us a professional site
that says you mean it, that you really
Youth were brought in as consultants
on content and design - Sean Carleton,
for example, provided original artwork
that would become the basis for the
look of the site; a young person who
lost a teenaged brother to suicide last
year, shared her experience and ideas.
The initiative began more than a year
ago following a talk on bullying Hymel
gave at a local Vancouver community
centre shortly after a young male victim
of bullying committed suicide by jumping from the Patullo Bridge. She was
approached by a local businessman
who wanted to help victimized kids and
kept after her to do something.
An inspired Hymel came up with the
idea for an online hotline. The businessman provided $4,500 in seed money for
the initiative, and stepped away, never
to be heard from again. She persevered
and, through various serendipitous connections, including partnerships with
the Crisis Intervention & Suicide
Prevention Centre of B.C. and SAFER
(part of the Vancouver Coastal Health
Authority),  received  $45,000  from
hours of crisis intervention training and
on-going support from professionals
from the Crisis Centre in Vancouver
"We're looking for people with the
potential to be good listeners," Ross says
of volunteers. "We don't do therapy
online. We focus on providing non-judgmental support to callers through the
'art of listening' and then if appropriate
provide options and resources."
Kaylie, a 23-year-old UBC psychology graduate, volunteered in order to get
experience helping others with similar
situations in which she has found herself.
According to her site profile, "The stress
of school, a major break-up, and deaths
in my family have made this year a
tough one for me. Also back when I was
16,1 found out I was pregnant. I had a
lot of friends to talk to but I really wish
I had someone like the Crisis Centre to
help me through it. There are so many
times when you just need someone to
talk to; someone who won't judge you
and can't tell anyone else what you tell
them because they don't know you."
Researchers will monitor use of the
site through June to determine the efficacy of the online hotline. If the web-
based focus proves successful, they hope
to secure more funding to keep the site
live after June and eventually expand
this form of crisis assistance provincially
and nationally.
For more information, visit
www.youthinbc.com. □
Anne   Martin-Matthews    has
been appointed scientific director of
the Canadian Institutes of Health
Research (CIHR) Institute of Aging.
The appointment is effective for
the term Jan. 1 to July 1,2004.
Martin-Matthews joined UBC in
1998 and is a professor of family
studies in the School of Social Work
and Family Studies. Her research
interests include families and aging,
intergenerational relationships,
widowhood and health.
A fellow of the Gerontological
Society of America, Martin-
Matthews most recently served as
vice-chair of the advisory board of
the Institute of Aging.
One of CIHR's 13 institutes, the
Institute of Aging is dedicated to
supporting research that promotes
healthy aging. The  institute  links
researchers located in university,
hospital and other research centres
across Canada.
CIHR is the Government of
Canada's premier agency for health
research. □


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