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UBC Reports Apr 1, 2010

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UMBIA    |    VOLUME    57    NO    04    |    APRIL    1,    2010    |    WWW.UBC.CA
a place of mind
Politics for Professors
Junior Doctor of the Year
Forecast: clear ahead
for those heading down to Wreck Beach this summer looking
to get the perfect tan, Roland Stull has developed the perfect tool
for yOU.   BY HEATHER AMOS    PAGE   3
Thomas Nipen, Dominique Bourdin, and Roland Stull (above).
Social media:
Changing the shared experience
Sociology professor Christopher Schneider is keeping a close eye on how modern living is
affected by social media such as Facebook and Twitter.
games the first "social media
UBC sociologist Christopher
Schneider, who studies social media
and their impact on our lives, says
coverage ofthe Games moved far
beyond entertainment to become
infotainment. He says social media
technology such as Facebook and
Twitter are changing the way that we
experience spectacular social events
such as the Olympics, and even how
we interact with the world.
"News agencies have changed the
model and structure of their format
to better reflect recent developments
in social media," says Schneider, an
assistant professor of sociology at
UBC's Okanagan campus in Kelowna,
"With social media, you are in the
know in a very real sense, in real
time. You can watch television and
be in the know with those who are
immediately around you, but with
social media you can be in the know
and interact with others who are in
the know anywhere."
Broadcasters reported that
about two-thirds of the Canadian
population watched the men's hockey
gold medal game, the most watched
broadcast in Canadian history.
"People were watching live on
television, the Internet, on cell
phones and participating in real time
in other social media venues like
Facebook, Twitter and on blogs," says
Schneider. "I suspect, in part, that's
a big reason why the numbers of
followers were larger than they have
been — because this really has been
the first social media Olympics.
"Information gathering and
dissemination, like never before,
is now instantaneous through a
multitude of outlets from a variety
of people, from individual citizens to
Olympic athletes," he says.
The International Olympic
Committee, for example, had a
Facebook page with more than
one million followers and Twitter
published a list of 'verified' Tweeting
Social media have dramatically
continued on page 8 2    |    UBC    REPORTS    |    APRIt   1,    2010
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Highlights of UBC media coverage in March 2010. compiled by heather amos
UBC Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Sports Centre.
Poverty in childhood can shape
neurobiology: study
Thomas Boyce, professor of pediatrics
at UBC, found that living in poverty, or
other stressful situations, can shape
the neurobiology of a developing
child. This study was picked up by
ABC Radio, Yahoo News, Agence
France Presse, The Times of India, the
Irish Times and the Globe and Mail.
"Children growing up in a
disadvantaged setting show
disproportionate levels of reactivity
to stress," said Boyce.
Olympic venues offer novel features
The Agence France Presse, the New
York Times, the Canadian Press and
the Globe and Mail reported that
UBC's Thunderbird Arena was one of
seven venues for the 2010 Paralympic
Games, and host to the sledge hockey
For the first time ever at the
Paralympics, sledge hockey players
were able to glide on and off the field
of play because the bench areas and
penalty box in UBC's arena were filled
with ice.
The Vancouver Sun and the
Province also reported versions of
this story.
Anti-depressants, anti-anxiety
medications increase cataract risks
UBC's Mahyar Etminan is the lead
author of a study that found that
people who take selective serotonin
reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) for
depression may have a higher-than-
average risk of developing cataracts.
But Etminan says that's no reason
to stop taking antidepressants: "The
benefits of treating depression —
which can be life-threatening — still
outweigh the risk of developing
cataracts," as was reported by
Reuters, Nature, the Globe and Mail,
The Vancouver Sun and the Montreal
Fairness is socially-learned, not
innate, research suggests
UBC's Joseph Henrich and his
colleagues set out to determine if
fairness is an evolved psychological
tool or a social construct that
emerged recently in response to
cultural changes.
The Economist, USA Today, the
New York Times, Science, MSNBC,
Wired and others reported that the
results back a cultural explanation of
fairness. People living in communities
that lack market integration display
less concern with fairness or with
punishing unfairness.
"Markets don't work very efficiently
if everyone acts selfishly and believes
everyone else will do the same," says
Henrich. "If you develop norms to be
fair and trusting with people beyond
your social sphere, that provides
enormous economic advantages and
allows a society to grow."
Money can't buy you happiness,
economists find
The Telegraph, the Daily Mail, the
New Zealand Herald and others
reported on research by UBC's
Mukesh Esawaran and University
of Calgary's Curtis Eaton that found
inhabitants of wealthy countries
tend to grow more miserable as their
economy grows richer.
The two economists learned that
most people in a population, who
are unable to afford the latest status
symbols, were left unhappy.
"These goods represent a 'zero-sum
game' for society: they satisfy the
owners, making them appear wealthy,
but everyone else is left feeling worse
off," say researchers. ■
Executive Director      SCOTT MACRAE scott.macrae@ubc.ca
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I: public.affairs@ubc.c; APRIL   J,    20J0    |    UBC    REPORTS    |    3
Study examines politics of professors
nearly everyone who has gone to
university can remember a prof who's
definitely more James Dean than
Mr. Chips. In the case of this writer,
it was an English professor who
favoured a black leather biker jacket
and opening the "doors of perception"
a la Aldous Huxley.
It appears that these types of
images contribute to who ends
up teaching at universities. UBC
sociologist Neil Gross argues in a
recent paper that job typecasting
may be one of the main reasons why
professors tend to lean left. It's a
case of like attracting like.
"Over the past 35 years, the
professoriate has developed a
reputation as people with broadly
liberal sensibilities," says Gross, an
associate professor in the Dept. of
Sociology. "The political typecasting
of some occupations as liberal or
conservative factors into people's
career aspirations."
His research shows that liberal and
left-leaning moderates make up more
than 80 per cent of professors on U.S.
While previous research about
professors and politics drew heavily
on anecdotal evidence, this is the
first study to analyze quantitative
and statistical data to assess theories
on the liberalism of U.S. academics,
among them higher levels of IQ and a
greater commitment to class struggle.
In 2006, Gross surveyed more
than 1,400 American professors
focusing on their religious and
political views. The results will appear
in a forthcoming edited volume of
work with co-author Solon Simmons
ofthe Institute for Conflict Analysis
and Resolution at George Mason
University in Arlington, Virginia.
With co-author Ethan Fosse, a
Harvard PhD student, Gross also
compared the social characteristics
of professors to other Americans,
and linked these to politics. Their
study used data from the General
Social Survey of opinions and social
behaviours collected between 1974
and 2008.
Their results indicate that
professors are more liberal than
other Americans because a higher
proportion possess advanced
educational credentials, identify
as Jewish, non-religious or non-
theologically conservative Protestant
Sociologist Neil Gross has found that liberals and atheists are more likely to pursue advanced degrees as well as careers as professors.
and express greater tolerance for
controversial ideas. Fosse and Gross
speculate that underlying these
findings is the fact that liberals and
atheists are more likely to pursue
advanced degrees as well as careers
as professors.
Gross first became intrigued about
the politics of professors in 2006
when he joined the faculty at Harvard.
a "flashpoint" for larger political
tensions, says Gross.
He explains that there has been
growing scrutiny on the influence
of professors on youth. This is not
surprising given that higher education
in the U.S. is vast with a work force
of about 1.2 million teaching at more
than 4,000 institutions. As opinion
leaders, academics help to shape
case showed how much 'political
correctness' there was on campus,
that the issue of gender and
cognitive ability couldn't even be
raised. I wanted to see if the whole
debate could serve as an opening
for reconsidering some longstanding
sociological questions about
intellectuals and politics."
A recent New York Times story
"The political typecasting of some occupations as liberal
or conservative factors into people's career aspirations."
Shortly after arriving, Gross was
pulled into countless meetings about
the freedom of academic debate.
In 2006, then-Harvard University
President Lawrence Summers
resigned his position following a "lack
of confidence" motion by the faculty
prompted by his comment that
women might be underrepresented
in science and math because of
innate differences in cognitive
abilities. Summers' departure was
agendas and as a political force, they
can prove a valuable linchpin. "For
example, educators contributed more
to Obama's presidential campaign
than any other occupational group
except lawyers.
"I really didn't enter this issue
as a partisan," says Gross, a San
Francisco Bay Area native who has
also taught at the University of
Southern California. "Conservatives
were claiming that the Summers
discussed the findings by Gross and
Fosse, triggering indignant responses
across the political spectrum.
"I've been as criticized by those
on the left as on the right," says
Gross. "For many, to be even
asking why professors are liberal
is to suggest somehow that
conservatives' arguments have
validity. Conservatives take our
results to confirm suspicions about
discrimination, that liberals have a
lock on who gets hired."
Although Gross has not gathered
any data on Canadian professors and
politics, he observes that, "the whole
issue has less intensity here than in
the States, in part because the broader
Canadian conservative movement is a
very different beast than its American
He says the vehement American
debate over the influence of professors
reflects the polarized politics between
Democrats and Republicans and a
particular American view of college as
not merely a means to earn credentials,
but an important rite of passage.
"Our study shows that the most
elite research schools in the U.S. are
also the most liberal," says Gross. "So
when conservative parents in the U.S.
send their offspring to top-ranked
institutions, their children may well
receive an education at odds with
their worldview, prompting fears of
indoctrination and undue influence."
To read the working paper "Why
Professors are Liberal" by Fosse and
Gross, visit: http://bit.ly/8Gm74j. ■
UBC forecasts clearer weather picture
continued from cover
Beach this summer looking to get the
perfect tan in all the places the sun
doesn't usually shine, Roland Stull has
developed the perfect tool for you.
Since 1996, Stull, a professor in the
Dept. of Earth and Ocean Sciences,
has been using his expertise and
complex computer programs to make
extremely accurate, high resolution
weather forecasts for British
Columbia. And now, just in time for
spring, Stull and his lab have found a
way to digest this complex data and
make the forecasts available to the
And for those looking for a
bit of fun in the sun here at the
University of British Columbia, there
is a forecast available just for the
Vancouver campus.
"Sometimes I use it to plan when I
should go for a run, in the morning or
in the evening," says Thomas Nipen,
a 3rd year PhD student in StuM's lab,
who has been helping to develop the
program that spits out a two-day
"It shows a little bit more
information; you can see the changes
during the day. This will tell you when
it will be warm and when it will be
Stull's weather forecasts are more
accurate than the ones available
from a weather channel or website,
he says. To generate a forecast,
Stull breaks the province up into a
3-D checkerboard; each square is
1.3 kilometers wide. These areas
are smaller than the ones routinely
used by Environment Canada and
have very detailed information
about the mountains. The result is a
high-resolution forecast tailored for
western Canada.
A computer runs different codes
to generate forecasts for each
checkerboard square. Each code,
or model, gives Stull a different
opinion of what the weather will be
like. All these different forecasts
often get plotted onto a spaghetti
diagram, a map covered in loads of
thin, colourful lines. For the public to
understand it all, Stull and his team
summarize the results as diagrams
that show the range of possible
"We're proud to be in British
Columbia making British Columbia
forecasts — it seemed a shame that
the general public couldn't benefit
from them," says Stull.
"It didn't happen by accident
though," he says. "I kept working with
my students to fine-tune the forecast
diagrams. It took a lot of tweaking to
get it to the point where it worked."
The easy-to-read weather
predictions were not just developed
for UBC staff, students and
community. Last year, Stull and
undergraduate student, Dominique
Bourdin, developed a program to
generate 14 day forecasts for 60
different geographic locations in the
province for an energy company.
Now as a master's project, Bourdin
is trying to generate easy-to-read
wind predictions for these areas. The
company will use this information to
make decisions about wind-power
development in the province.
"You have to forecast for wind
power because you can't store it. The
best way to integrate wind-generated
electricity is to have really high-
quality forecasts," says Bourdin.
Although Bourdin describes
generating a forecast as "whipping it
up," the process required her to learn
five new computer languages.
Stull and his team will
continuously improve and tweak the
system but overall he's "delighted"
that his forecasts are now available
to everyone.
To have a look at Stull's forecasts
and work visit: http://weather.eos.
ubc.ca/wxfcst/ , and use the links for
the "UBC 2-Day Fest" or the "YVR
2-Week Fest." ■ 4    |    UBC    REPORTS    |    APRIL   J,    20J0
2010 Games: What a party
University of British Columbia was a
host community for the 2010 Olympic
and Paralympic Winter Games. And
what a party it was.
Over 17 days of competition and 37
games, more than 250,000 spectators
crowded into the new Doug Mitchell
Thunderbird Sports Centre to watch
the world's top athletes compete in
hockey and sledge hockey. Another
15,000 gathered to greet both torches
on campus.
UBC Robson Square was more than
simply a state-of-the-art international
media centre for the Games, it was
the beating heart ofthe city, a place
where thousands of people gathered
to celebrate every day.
These important legacies - a new
7,000-seat multi-purpose facility and
a modernized downtown campus - are
major additions to the social fabric of
UBC and the city.
But perhaps UBC's greatest Games
legacy will be how students, faculty,
staff and alumni chose to engage with
this major world event, says Stephen
Owen, Vice President, External,
Legal and Community Relations. "We
witnessed a powerful expression of
all the things that make UBC great
- research, teaching, learning and
community engagement," he says.
The UBC Olympic Games Impact
Research Study, for example, will
articulate the economic, social and
environmental impacts of the Games.
Like all projects in the new UBC
Centre for Sport and Sustainability, it
will contribute to the sustainability of
future mega-events. UBC researchers
also contributed to Canada's
performance enhancement program
Own The Podium and tracked the
Games' carbon footprint.
As the Games approached, UBC's
Winter Games Event Series provided
a public forum for dialogue and
debate. These 50 events, culminating
with the Sport and Society series,
asked provocative questions to
advance our understanding of what
the Olympics and Paralympics mean
to society.
Students worked as anti-doping
agents, built the medals podia,
welcomed visitors, performed
in the Opening Ceremonies, and
garnered amazing work experience
in organizations like NBC, CBS, CTV,
VANOC and Tech Cominco. In total,
UBC Career Services helped connect
UBC students with more than 6,000
paid or volunteer opportunities.
Through the UBC Learning
Exchange, as many as 1,000
community service learners and
volunteers worked in Downtown
Eastside schools and other Vancouver
non-profits during and around the
Under UBC's Jack Taunton, Chief
Medical Officer of the Games, UBC
doctors, dentists and scientists led
health care for the Games, anti-doping
screening and emergency response
preparations. The UBC 2010 Olympic
and Paralympic Secretariat worked
to create opportunities for the UBC
community to engage with the Games,
while minimizing campus impacts.
And when the world's media
came calling, UBC faculty were
there to provide expert commentary
and analysis on sports science,
psychology, the weather, civil rights
and myriad other topics.
Very few universities have
participated in a global event of this
size and complexity. "The knowledge
we gained from this experience
will enrich UBC in perpetuity- from
keeping students safe to engaging in
critical dialogue to creating a vibrant
campus life," says Michelle Aucoin,
Director of UBC's 2010 Secretariat.
"It's fair to say that the legacy of
these Games stretches well beyond
the corridors of the Arena." ■
Games reflections
"UBC welcomed the world as a host of the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic
Games and the Doug Mitchell Winter Sports Centre will remain as an
important legacy to UBC and the community."
"The knowledge we gained from this experience will enrich UBC in perpetuity,
from keeping students safe to engaging in critical dialogue to creating a
vibrant campus life."
"Hosting the Paralympics has energized our conversation about universal
design and our efforts to create welcoming and inclusive learning, working
and living environments for people with disabilities at UBC."
17 days of competition
250,000+ spectators
17 ice hockey games
20 sledge hockey games
200 practices and pre-game skates
15,000+ greeted Olympic and
Paralympic torches at UBC
50+ campus Games-related
educational events
6,000+ volunteer and paid
200+ campus visitors daily
"Our goals were to create academic activities, community engagement and
lasting legacies. University of Utah's experience with the 2002 Games
confirmed that the positive impact could be broad, deep and lasting."
"This was a great opportunity for UBC to produce important research on a
poorly understood global phenomenon, with massive impacts, as it unfolded
right before our eyes."
"My Olympic and Paralympic experience was something that I will remember
forever, especially interacting with journalists and athletes at the
international level."
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Architectural rendering of the Beaty Biodiversity Museum atrium. The blue
whale skeleton will be suspended in the species' signature lunge feeding
pose (top); artists and scientists put the finishing touches on the whale
skeleton in a Victoria workshop (far left); the first-ever x-ray of a blue
whale flipper and the assembled flipper skeleton (centre); 1987 ariel photo
of the beached blue whale near Nail Pond, PE! (above).
A whale of an exhibit
the skeleton of a blue whale that
washed up on Canada's Atlantic
shore 23 years ago will finally move
into its permanent home next to
the Pacific Ocean this month as
the centerpiece of the UBC Beaty
Biodiversity Museum — the largest
blue whale skeleton to be displayed
in Canada and the largest skeleton in
the world to be suspended without
external support.
The 25-metre-long whale beached
and died near the town of Tignish,
PEI and was buried on provincial land
nearby. With the help and support
ofthe Canadian Museum of Nature
(CMN) and the Government of PEI,
UBC assembled a team of marine
biologists from both provinces and
exhumed the skeleton in May 2008.
Since then, the blue whale
skeleton has made its cross-Canada
journey and undergone degreasing
and cleaning in Victoria, BC and,
underthe masterful hands of
skeleton articulator Michael deRoos,
assumed the species' signature
The Beaty Biodiversity Museum
is scheduled to commence its
school and public programming,
including guided tours of select
collections, laboratories and exhibits,
this fall. For more information, visit
lunge-feeding pose, ready to again
inspire wonder and awe.
"Visitors will be amazed by the
blue whale's size," says Wayne
Maddison, museum director and
a professor of botany and zoology.
"More importantly, the whale will help
us tell the story of biodiversity to
the public — how the earth's species
are interconnected ecologically and
The UBC blue whale skeleton is
one of only six such exhibits in North
America — the only other Canadian
exhibit is also being unveiled at the
CMN in Ottawa this summer. Andrew
Trites, director of UBC's Marine
Mammal Research Unit who led the
a rare opportunity to examine the
bone structure of the whale's flipper.
"Most blue whale skeletons
unearthed so far had been heavily
decomposed, so reconstruction of the
flipper — which consists of 34 bones
and is the most complex structure in
a whale's skeletal system — has been
a bit of a guessing game," says Trites.
With its skin fully intact, Trites
and his team were able to perform
the first-ever x-ray on a blue whale
flipper and use it as a roadmap to
reconstructing the exhibit. The UBC
blue whale display will therefore be
the most accurately assembled in the
Trites and Pierre-Yves Daoust, a
Even in its untimely death, the blue
whale is teaching visitors a valuable
lesson: the interconnectedness of all
living forms on earth, which happens
to be the central theme of the
museum and the Biodiversity Research
Centre, a research network of more
than 50 internationally renowned
scientists from multiple departments
at UBC.
"The current rate of species
extinction is 100 to 1,000 times higher
than the normal rate of extinction in
earth's history before humans became
a primary contributor to extinctions,"
says Sally Otto, director of the
Biodiversity Research Centre. "We
are losing species faster than we can
Blue whales are the biggest animal to ever
live on Earth, bigger than any dinosaurs.
ambitious project, says the process
of unearthing the blue whale has also
uncovered secrets ofthe mysterious
"Blue whales are the biggest animal
to ever live on Earth, bigger than any
dinosaurs. Yet we know surprising
little about them," says Trites. "When
the whale was exhumed, we were
surprised to find that most of its skin,
blubber and muscle remained intact
after being buried for 20 years."
While the condition of the whale
presented substantially more work in
skeleton preparation, it also provided
wild-life pathology professor at
University of PEI's Atlantic Veterinary
College and part of the exhumation
team, also conducted a CSI-like
investigation on the whale's heavily
damaged skull — which has since
been replaced with a replica made
with fibre glass and plasti-paste.
"Based on the extent and type of
damage, we concluded that the whale
likely died from a collision with a
mid-sized vessel," says Trites, adding
that the most common cause of
death for large whales in the wild is
interaction with humans.
document them.
"In other words, there are
species that have existed and then
disappeared on this earth that we will
never get to know."
The challenge this presents is akin
to piecing together an incomplete set
of jigsaw puzzles, Otto explains. "We
may never get a fully complete picture
of our world — and how each species,
from the largest animal to the tiniest
microbe, contributes to that picture."
That's why the research centre's
endeavours range from curiosity-
driven basic research to conservation
policy assessment, answering some
ofthe most fundamental questions
while mitigating risks faced by
species and ecosystems.
And that's why the museum
must strike a fine balance between
supporting research and educating
the public in designing the exhibit
of its collection of more than two
million specimens — including the
second largest fish collection in
The museum staff are ramping up
public programs, set to begin mid-
September, that aim to engage school
children with hands-on experiments
that engage all their senses. "Kids
of all ages can see, smell and touch
whale bones and other specimens,
hear stories about their lives in the
wild and how they're connected —
down to their DNA — to other living
beings," says Maddison.
"They will also get a sense of what
biodiversity researchers do, what sort
of questions we're striving to answer,
that will hopefully inspire them to be
part of the solution." ■
Major funding for the Beaty
Biodiversity Centre, which houses
the Biodiversity Research Centre and
the Beaty Biodiversity Museum, has
come from the Canada Foundation for
Innovation, the Government of British
Columbia and a gift from UBC alumni
Ross and Trisha Beaty. 6    |    UBC    REPORTS    |    APRIL   1 ,    2010
Global issues up close and personal
what exactly is global citizenship?
For UBC students Mace Mateo
and Meghan Price, it means being
ruthlessly honest about their role in
developing countries.
After visiting an orphanage while
living in Guatemala last term, Mateo
and Price questioned "poverty
"We asked ourselves whether our
presence actually helps anyone in
those situations, or are we there
more for ourselves?" recalls Mateo, a
third-year student in Asian Studies.
"We talked everyday among
ourselves about these issues," adds
Price, a second-year Arts student
who is focusing on international
relations. "Quite a few of us had
already volunteered for international
organizations. Some had already
done work in places like Kenya and
Price and Mateo were among
the 26 participants selected for
the Faculty of Arts' Term Abroad
in Global Citizenship (GCTA) in
Guatemala during September to
December 2009.
In its second year, the GCTA
invites students to experience
service learning while earning credits
for UBC courses in sociology and
philosophy. The initiative allows
faculty and students to assess their
commitment to social justice and
to understand more fully the global
impact of individual choices. GCTA
combines class lectures, course work
and engagement with non-profit
Meghan Price (left) and Mace Mateo combined service learning with a term abroad in Guatemala.
organizations and citizens groups. For
example, a popular GCTA volunteer
activity is helping out at a coffee
cooperative run by former guerillas.
Mateo and Price started their
GCTA term in Guatemala by
volunteering with the non-profit
organization Habitat for Humanity.
While living in Xela — Guatemala's
second-largest city with a population
of 300,000 — they helped one family
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lay the foundation for a simple four-
room house. In addition, Mateo and
Price helped some families build brick
and stone stoves with chimneys to
replace open fires in their kitchens.
"These stoves burned hotter and
quicker and didn't pollute the indoor
air so people's lungs were healthier,"
says Mateo.
Sylvia Berryman, an associate
professor in the Dept. of Philosophy,
says she's drawn to the intense and
engaging nature of hands-on teaching
and learning that the term abroad
fosters. She is currently in Guatemala
organizing a second GCTA for the
summer term.
"It's one thing to read about poverty,
justice or violence in distant places,
it's quite another to work with a poor
family inside their home or to see
the exhumed skeleton of a massacre
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victim," says Berryman. "GCTA is
demanding, but many faculty feel
the impact on students is worth the
effort. Experiences like these really
complement UBC coursework."
Overall, the program gave her
great hope that things can change,
says Mateo. In particular, she was
inspired by a local initiative that
supported the poorest of the poor —
women and children who scavenged
for a living at the city dump. Called
"Camino Seguro" — Spanish for safe
passage — the organization helped
the children attend school, while
providing skills training for their
"It was wonderful to witness how
they evolved, from picking over
garbage to making and selling jewelry
from recycled materials."
Mateo says she saw many parallel
struggles in Guatemala with those in
her native country. In 2007, she had
immigrated to Vancouver with her
family from the Philippines. "I hope to
do graduate work in the arena of Asia
Pacific policy studies and contribute
to social change that way."
Price, who recently performed as
a dancer in the opening and closing
Olympic ceremonies, says even
as she's settling back into life in
Canada, the experience in Guatemala
continues to direct her attention
to larger global issues. "It's very
sobering to consider that 11 per cent
of Guatemalan children are in danger
of starving to death over the next six
Mateo and Price, plus a third
roommate Anthony Ecclissi, all
roomed together while in Guatemala
and are currently renting a house
together in Kitsilano, which has
become a de facto gathering place
for GCTA alumni. Their discussions
continue, she says, as does the
clarification about their support
for those in the world struggling to
"We're not there to rescue people
who are helpless or passive, but
to support expert citizens who are
expert problem-solvers," says Mateo.
Price concurs, "We acknowledge
the complexities of what it's
like in the world, but we make a
commitment and take action in the
ways we can." ■ Junior Doctor of the Year
APRIL    1 ,    2010    |    UBC    REPORTS    |    7
evan wood has authored more than
300 peer-reviewed papers, supervised
37 graduate students and sits on
editorial boards of eight scientific
journals. His groundbreaking research
has resulted in major revisions in HIV
treatment guidelines, demonstrated
the benefits of supervised injection
facilities, compelled pharmaceutical
companies to offer free antiretrovirals
to HIV-positive pregnant mothers
in Africa, and most recently, shown
conclusively that offering HIV
treatment to injection drug users can
reduce HIV incidence at a community
Wood's long list of accomplishments
would be impressive for a senior
academic, but having all these
achievements under his belt at the
"tender" age of 36 is why the BMJ
Group — publisher of the prestigious
British Medical Journal — conferred
its inaugural Junior Doctor of the Year
Award to Wood. The international
award, chosen from more than 100
nominees and given to a young
physician who has "done the most
to improve the world we live in,"
tops the list of other early career
honours already bestowed upon
Wood by the Canadian Medical
Association, the Canadian Institutes
of Health Research, and the Canadian
Association for HIV Research.
Wood is a clinical associate
professor in the Faculty of Medicine's
Division of AIDS, chief medical
resident in the Dept. of Medicine
and co-director of the Urban Health
Research Initiative at the British
Columbia Centre for Excellence in HIV/
AIDS (BC-CfE). In his relatively short
academic career, he has established
Evan Wood is the BMJ Group's first Junior Doctor of the Year award recipient.
"For several decades we've been
looking at drug addiction through
moralistic and criminal justice
lenses," says Wood. "But there is
now a mountain of evidence showing
that drug law enforcement, including
mandatory minimum sentences for
drug offences, through a 'war on
drugs' approach, simply doesn't work.
"As a parent myself, I'm concerned
by the evidence that youth have
through prioritizing prevention and
treatment would reduce demand for
illicit drugs while treating people
with dignity and respect, according
to Wood.
It would also make economic sense,
especially for a country with a publicly-
funded healthcare system, he says.
"HIV outbreaks commonly occur
in prison and transmission has
been directly linked to policies that
Wood says his interest in HIV/
AIDS research was born out of a
course he took while a Geography
major at the University of Victoria. "I
mapped the geographic spread of
HIV from its origin in Africa to North
America, and it got me interested in
the population health aspects of the
Born and raised in Vancouver, he
can't imagine working anywhere
else in the world, especially when
one ofthe largest concentration of
expertise in HIV/AIDS is right here in
his backyard.
"UBC and the BC-CfE have one of
the most well-regarded research
clusters in the world when it comes
to HIV/AIDS research and how we
address issues that surround and
impact infection and survival rates,"
says Wood, who received his PhD
from UBC but didn't get into medical
school on the first try.
"In retrospect it was a blessing,"
says Wood. "Instead of going to
medical school right away, I was
recruited to stay at UBC as an
assistant professor and received a
large grant from the US National
Institutes of Health to continue doing
clinical research while I pursued a
medical degree in Calgary."
As for his mounting accolades,
Wood says they are recognition of his
teams at BC-CfE, St. Paul's Hospital
and UBC.
"It's flattering and humbling, but
none of it would be possible without
my colleagues, the participants in
our research, who give willingly of
their time and experiences, and
the fantastic team of graduate
students who are so passionate and
hardworking," says Wood.
"We're fighting such an uphill battle
here, the more people we can get
working in this area the more quickly
we can turn this Titanic around." ■
'The evidence to support harm reduction
intervention is extremely clear."
himself as a leading authority on
HIV prevention and treatment issues
among drug-addicted populations.
Published in top journals including
the New England Journal of Medicine,
Wood's evaluations of Insite, North
America's only supervised injection
facility, have demonstrated that the
program reduces overdose deaths,
lowers HIV transmission rates and
increases uptake into addiction
Yet he still finds time to engage in
public discourse, having commented
in nearly 300 news stories and
written almost 30 editorials in the
past decade.
"The evidence to support harm
reduction intervention is extremely
clear — I would say even clearer
than the science supporting climate
change in many respects," says Wood.
"But much like climate change, there
is an impression within the political
and public spheres that it's still
"The fact is that scientific
evaluations of harm reduction have
been systematically reviewed and
unequivocally endorsed by the World
Health Organization and all other
international scientific consensus
bodies that have considered these
interventions. And I feel it's part of
my responsibility as a scientist to
communicate that to the public."
Wood has also communicated
passionately about treating drug
addiction as a public health issue.
easier access to marijuana than
tobacco and alcohol. If the stated
goal of law enforcement is to
decrease supply, it obviously hasn't
succeeded," Wood says.
Instead, tackling drug addiction
prioritize law enforcement over
public health," Wood says. "The
taxpayer is the obvious loser, footing
$250,000 in estimated medical
expenses for every case of HIV
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Lionel E. McLeod
Health Research
Scholarship Winner
Alberta Innovates - Health Solutions, funded by the
Alberta Heritage Foundation for Medical Research
(AHFMR) Endowment Fund, is pleased to announce that
Heidi Noel Boyda has received a 2010 Lionel E. McLeod
Health Research Scholarship. The award honours
Dr. Lionel McLeod, the founding president of AHFMR.
Ms. Boyda is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in the Department of
Anesthesiology, Pharmacology and Therapeutics, Faculty of
Medicine at the University of British Columbia. She has received
numerous awards and scholarships during her academic career
from organizations such as the Canadian Institutes of Health
Research (CIHR) and BC Mental Health and Addictions Research
Services. Ms. Boyda's research focuses on the metabolic side
effects of antipsychotic drugs. More knowledge in this area could
help provide better treatments in the mental health field.
The Lionel E. McLeod Health Research Scholarship is given
annually to an outstanding student at the University of Alberta,
University of Calgary, or University of British Columbia for research
related to human health. Patrick Stemkowski at the University of
Alberta and Braedon McDonald at the University of Calgary also
received awards this year.
Dr. McLeod was the Head of Endocrinology at the University of
Alberta, Dean of Medicine at the University of Calgary, President
of AHFMR from 1981-1990, and President and Chief Executive
Officer of the University Hospital, Vancouver.
www.albertainnovates.ca I    UBC    REPORTS    |    APRIL   1,    2010
social media continued from cover
influenced how messages are
modified, packaged, shaped and
disseminated to various audiences,
and Schneider points out that these
messages communicate values and
cultural norms.
"They have moved communication
and information beyond the scope of
traditional media such as print, radio
and television," Schneider says. "As
a result, audience expectations have
shifted coverage ofthe Olympics
and other social events from an
entertainment-oriented format to an
infotainment-driven format."
The emergence of social media is
driving dramatic changes in social
interaction and communication.
"Many of us already interact daily
with others in a mediated context —
for instance, we play hockey, bowl,
golf and even exercise with others,
to name a few activities," says
For people using social media, the
once-primary role of face-to-face
communication becomes relegated
to a secondary feature of social
interaction. "For the first time in
history, the possibility exists for
all human interaction to occur in a
mediated realm," he says.
The expansion of social media into
our everyday lives has altered the
political and cultural landscape, says
Schneider, explaining that this has
led to changes in social control —
the ability to define a situation so
that people behave in a particular or
desired manner.
Social media are directly
responsible for the emergence of the
omnipresent citizen journalist, for
example. Spectators, athletes, and
others now disseminate messages
associated with social events like the
Winter Games, often in real time.
"Seemingly everyone has become
a journalist, a reporter or narrator
of events, while control and
sponsorship of information has
become increasingly important," says
Schneider. "Consider recent changes
in police surveillance tactics. For
example, Indigenous activist Dustin
Rivers was questioned by police over
some critical content posted on his
weblogwww.liberatedyet.com in
relation to the 2010 Olympics."
The control and spread of
information has also been a recent
issue for organizations like the police.
Examples include the citizen video-
recorded death of Robert Dziekanski
at the Vancouver airport, and a
somewhat lesser-known incident in
which a video posted on the social
media site YouTube exposed an
undercover police operation at the
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2007 Montebello summit in Quebec.
In these instances, surveillance
— a basic feature of social control
— becomes a normalized, routine
feature of everyday life. The
spread and acceptance of social
media have helped to promote and
normalize surveillance while also
eliminating traditional barriers
between public and private life, and
Schneider contends that all life is
becoming mediated, "the long-term
consequences of which are unknown."
Canadian media theorist Marshall
McLuhan, creator of the expression
"the medium is the message," argued
essentially that the delivery medium
of information is, in fact, more
important than the delivery of the
information itself.
"In this sense, technology is the
message," Schneider says. "And it
has increasingly changed the way in
which people consume the Olympics
and other social events." ■
Acquisition Solutions & Sci Trek
Savings & Sustainability...
Thursday, April 15,2010
10:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m.
War Memorial Gym
Free Admission • For Faculty & Staff
• Door Prizes •
Queensland, Australia
Have you considered completing your Teacher Education qualification in Australia?
Over 2500 Canadian teacher education students have graduated from Griffith.
In 2008-09 Griffith was the number one Australian education destination for Canadian students.
Campuses located on the Gold Coast and Brisbane, the capital of Queensland.
Commencement dates for Primary/Junior programs: July 2010 and January 2011.
Commencement date for Secondary programs: January 2011.
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