Community Stories

Learn more about your colleagues — both at UBC and outside of their working lives.

Have a story to share? Submit it via this form.

An unexpected path sparks UBC’s online learning era

Natasha Boskic is the Senior Manager of Learning Design with UBC’s Faculty of Education

On her first visit to Vancouver from Serbia in 1997, Dr. Natasha Boskic, then a translator, arrived at UBC to take a Continuing Studies course in order to improve her English language, communication and negotiation skills.

Today, nearly twenty years later, she’s immigrated to Canada, completed a PhD and works as the Senior Manager of Learning Design with UBC’s Faculty of Education, where she has worked on the development of 120 fully online courses – the highest number produced by a Faculty at UBC. (more…)

30-Second Bio: Ted Sandstra

Help your colleagues learn more about you and your work at UBC! Submit your own 30-Second Bio.

Name: Ted Sandstra

Title: Project Manager

Department/Unit: Project Services

Location: Okanagan

Year I started working at UBC: 2015

10 words or less to describe what I do at UBC: I support teaching and research through building renovations.

The best thing about my work/role at UBC: I appreciate the leadership within my department. It is also my pleasure to assist the UBCO community to transform campus buildings according to our clients’ needs. (more…)

Empowering youth in Kenya and at home

Colleen has been program coordinator for the SSE-Kenya program since 2015

It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for students—and a yearly experience for Colleen Poeta. As program coordinator of the Sauder Social Entrepreneurship-Kenya (SSE-K) Program, Colleen spends four weeks of her summers in Nairobi, where she supports a team of UBC students as they deliver a series of workshops in the large urban slums of Kibera and Mathare.


Bringing emergency preparedness to life at UBC

Anyone passing the south end of Main Mall on June 28 may see a flurry of activity as emergency responders rush to help a group of injured runners.

Thankfully this won’t be a real-life emergency, but rather a mock-up exercise designed to test UBC’s response and capabilities in a time of crisis. (more…)

Alex Bigazzi’s “Silver Bullet”

For Alex Bigazzi, active transportation has become a lifestyle and a research topic he is deeply passionate about.

Biking to work every day ­– rain or shine – isn’t just Alex Bigazzi’s commute to his job at UBC’s Vancouver campus. For Alex, active transportation has become a lifestyle and a research topic he is deeply passionate about.

It’s also part of what led him to join UBC as Assistant Professor in 2015.

When a new joint appointment came up with the Department of Civil Engineering and the School of Community, Alex jumped at the chance to join an academic community with endless opportunities for collaboration in his research on urban transportation. (more…)

30-Second Bio: Richard Prince

Help your colleagues learn more about you and your work at UBC. Submit your own 30-Second Bio.

Name: Richard Prince

Title: Professor

Department/Unit: Art History and Visual Art

Location: Vancouver

Year I started working at UBC: 1975

10 words or less to describe what I do at UBC: Teach sculpture and make it in the Old Fire Hall

The best thing about my work/role at UBC: Connecting with students who have the same excitement I felt as an undergraduate at UBC many decades ago and helping them to find their way to the future in art and the world in a time of anxiety and insecurity about that future. Not much different than that I felt when I graduated in 1971.

My favourite place to spend my lunch hour: Generally a walk around the campus is the best way to spend my lunch time but a real treat is to go to the top of the staircase in the old Chemistry building south end and curl up in the window structure that is derived from buildings in Cambridge and read a British murder mystery set in an classical academic setting. Best to go in disguise.

My top UBC tip for my colleagues, or for someone beginning their UBC journey: Focus on your students and on the broader picture of UBC’s vision. Work with your peers who are your colleagues, not just the teaching and library ones but the grounds crews, the building workers and the vast and skilled crews of plant operations. We must be a coordinated group working for a single goal which is the young scholars who will make our future.

Read a selection of other community stories and learn more about what your colleagues are up to.

Skeleton staff: curating the big blue whale

Chris Stinson volunteered with the team that dug up the blue whale’s remains on the P.E.I. beach where it had been buried since 1987

One of UBC’s most iconic sights is the 25-metre blue whale skeleton suspended over the entrance of the Beaty Biodiversity Museum. But while the closest most museum visitors are likely to get to the bony behemoth is the distance from which it looms above the floor, the same cannot be said for other members of the UBC community. And virtually no one is closer to this enormous creature than Chris Stinson, Curatorial Assistant of Mammals, Reptiles, and Amphibians. (more…)

30-Second Bio: Suzanne Nazareno

Help your colleagues learn more about you and your work at UBC. Submit your own 30-Second Bio.

Name: Suzanne Nazareno

Title: Manager, Conferences & Accommodation

Department/Unit: Student Housing & Hospitality Services

Location: Okanagan

Year I started working at UBC: 2008

10 words or less to describe what I do at UBC: Welcoming visitors to UBC through conferences, meetings, summer guest accommodation.

The best thing about my work/role at UBC: Being a part of a vibrant learning community surrounded by people willing to share expertise and support new ideas.

Moving to the Okanagan from the Lower Mainland, I can also say how much I appreciate the short commute to work which usually involves a view of the lake or a vineyard.

My favourite place to spend my lunch hour: The Quail Ridge Trail is a spectacular getaway for a noon walk, but one of the special places Housing staff can escape to is the top floor outdoor terrace in Purcell Residence which really gives you an outstanding view of the entire valley.

My top UBC tip for my colleagues, or for someone beginning their UBC journey: Be sure to attend a Friday Pit Stop. Pit Stop is a UBCO department/unit hosted coffee break once per month and is where you’ll meet everyone.

If you’re new to the Okanagan, gas is cheaper, wine and fruit is plentiful, your commute is shorter, beware of the sunless winters, but you’ll be rewarded in the summers, so bring sunscreen! There is everything to do outside, at a lake, on a mountain, in nature. You will never leave, thankfully your guests will.

Read a selection of other community stories and learn more about what your colleagues are up to.

What are you working on? With Nicole Barrett

Nicole Barrett is the director of the International Justice and Human Rights Clinic at The Peter A. Allard School of Law. She’s also the executive director of the Allard Prize initiatives. Her career has been a whirlwind of remarkable experiences. Her devotion to the rule of law has taken her across the globe.

Read more.

UBC chemistry instructor shoots for the stars—literally

Keeping his feet on the ground is not Richard Federley’s strong point. With an insatiable curiosity and a passion for adventure, jumping out of planes and exploring the unknown is everyday stuff for this UBC Okanagan chemistry instructor.

No wonder he caught the eye of the Canadian Space Agency recruitment team.

Read more.

A new take on the classroom builds space for better learning

Jodi Scott and her team in Facilities Planning are helping students take a more hands on role with their learning through the use of space.

The next time you step into a classroom at UBC, you might be surprised by what you see.

At first glance, you might not even realize you’re in a classroom; however, it’s likely that you’ve simply entered one of UBC’s new learning spaces, planned by Jodi Scott and her team in Infrastructure Development, Facilities Planning.

“We’re challenging the way that teaching and learning happens here through the use of space,” says Jodi, who has been with UBC since 2002 and is a senior planner at the university. (more…)

Untangling the mysteries of love

The mysteries of love have inspired poetry, songs and countless works of art. But rather than revel in its mystique, UBC philosopher Carrie Jenkins, author of the new book What Love Is, wants us to turn a critical eye on love, to understand its biological and societal origins.

Read more.

What are you working on? With Myron Campbell

Myron Campbell’s creativity seems to be infinitely supplied. His work is not only imaginative but relevant in today’s societal dialogues. From overseeing large city installations, to lecturing on digital imaging and design, his work encompasses that of a true contemporary artist.

Read more.

What are you working on? With Ryan Huffman and Kyle Reese

ryan_kyle_a-1920x1080Ryan Huffman and Kyle Reese are both Project Managers at UBC Infrastructure Development, Project Services. They joined the Project Services team in 2013.

They joke that at the time, people at the office were constantly mistaking them. They suspect it’s because they sat beside each other — or maybe because each of their names contained four letters. Whatever the reason, their names seem to be inseparably linked.

Read more.


Introducing students to new perspectives on gender and social justice

ilya_parkins_main-360x240pxIlya Parkins often receives glowing praise from students transformed by her classes in Gender and Women’s Studies, but the UBC professor takes none of the credit. It’s the material that is transformational she insists, not the messenger.

“One of the pleasures of doing this job is I get lots of feedback in a way that I don’t think many people in other fields get,” she says. “Students tell me I’ve changed their life, but what I’ve done is introduce them to a perspective that allows them to see the world through a gender lens or a social justice lens that changes them profoundly.”

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Studying the benefits of high-intensity interval training with Jonathan Little

jonathanlittle_360x240pxThe picture of health does not necessarily bring cellular physiology to mind. Rock-hard stomachs, dressing-on-the side salads, and unyielding self-discipline pervade society’s idea of healthy.

But one researcher wants to turn our picture of health inside out.

Over the past three years at UBC’s Okanagan campus, Assistant Professor Jonathan Little has worked in the School of Health and Exercise Sciences toward optimizing diet and exercise from a different perspective.

Exercise and diet contribute to much more than a number on your scale, says Little of his current research that challenges our understanding of exercise and diet.

Read more.

Turning chemistry inside out: The new flipped classroom

stephenmcneil-01-360x240pxRealizing his first-year course might be his only chance to help students understand the broader societal impacts of chemistry, Dr. Stephen McNeil started with just one question: What if he could help his students understand how chemistry relates to their own experience of life?

Read more.

Dr. Claudia Krebs: Academic YouTube star sparks worldwide learning

claudiakrebs-01-360x240-02Initially, all that UBC neuroanatomy professor Dr. Claudia Krebs had hoped to do with her videos was to engage her own students in deeper learning so they would actually retain the information she wanted them to know. That was back in 2013. Today, she’s collaborating with colleagues around the world to transform medical anatomy education for thousands of students everywhere through open access learning.

Read more.

Letting your mind wander with Kalina Christoff

kalinachristoff-225x300pxIt’s safe to say that most people daydream. Mind wandering can happen when you perform everyday activities such as showering, walking, or driving–and when you’re fantasizing or remembering. But is there a pay off?

Dr. Kalina Christoff, professor of psychology and principal investigator of the Cognitive Neuroscience of Thought Laboratory, explores the science behind–and the cognitive benefits of–mind wandering. In this Q&A, Christoff shares how she first became intrigued by mind wandering, the different types of human thought, and new research she’s excited about.

Read more.

Learning empathy and respect through play


Kristin Webster was recently awarded with the province’s 2016 Child Care Awards of Excellence in the Innovation category.

At the south end of UBC’s Vancouver campus, young minds are learning about environmental sustainability, social justice, and exploration of indigenous place.

Yet in this case, it’s not university students who are doing the learning.

Instead, it’s children – between 16 months and 5 years of age – at the Salal mixed-age daycare run by UBC’s Kristin Webster and her team. (more…)

What Are You Working On? With Linc Kesler

linc-kesler360x240pxLinc Kesler began his career at UBC in 2003 as the first director of the First Nations and Indigenous Studies Program. Before he came to the university he was a professor at Oregon State University for twenty years.

Linc designed and taught the three innovative core courses in the FNIS program and in 2009 he took on the roles of Director at the First Nations House of Learning and Senior Advisor to the President on Aboriginal Affairs.

As an experienced educator and accomplished researcher, he has put his skills towards developing initiatives on campus that contribute to the interests of Indigenous communities.

Read more.

Using exercise to fight frailty

Assistant Professor Gareth Jones and his team at UBC’s Okanagan campus are researching how a multi-component program of exercise can assist pre-frail and frail adults.

Watch the video.

Hot Lunch showcases the power of food to unite

Sandra Shepard

Sandra Shepard, Assistant Principal, St John’s College

How often do you exchange emails with colleagues you haven’t met in person?

When your workplace is as big as UBC, it’s not difficult to see how this could be a common experience. Yet a monthly staff networking event – Hot Lunch – is aimed at changing this experience for the better.

“Hot Lunch is about finding ways to get people out of their offices and to help people put faces to names,” says Sandra Shepard, Assistant Principal of St. John’s College at UBC and a founding member of the Hot Lunch Steering Committee. (more…)

Taking an ‘animated’ approach to teaching

steven barnes_profile-360x240px-2

Steven believes the eclectic use of different mediums allows an opportunity to create an open atmosphere for his students.

A UBC psychology instructor is taking a creative approach to teaching – through the use of stop-motion animation.

Steven Barnes, an Instructor in the Department of Psychology, has employed art and interactivity in his work for several years.

His methods range from the use of stop-motion ‘chalkboard’ animation in his classes, to allowing students to offset poor grades through optional projects that invite them to explore mediums beyond the traditional. (more…)

The art of language construction


UBC professor Christine Schreyer, (second from right) has combined her passion for restoring languages with her Hollywood connections.

A UBC professor is combining her love of languages, and her Hollywood connections, to help create a new documentary film.

Christine Schreyer, who teaches anthropology at UBC’s Okanagan campus, is a linguistic anthropologist who has dedicated much of her career to working with communities to revitalize their endangered languages. A self-confessed language fangirl, she has spent the past year working as an executive producer on a soon-to-be-released documentary about conlanging (the art of creating languages).

Read more.

Advancing UBC’s Sustainability Goals: a Q&A with John Madden

John Madden - 01 - 360x240pxWhat goes into making the campus carbon neutral?

As UBC releases its Carbon Neutral Action Report, an update on its climate action initiatives, John Madden, Director of Sustainability and Engineering, Campus and Community Planning, shares his insights on climate action and what inspired him to come and work at UBC.

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Exploring the behavioural function of new neurons

August2016LOMSlider-360x240pxThrough the lens of adult neurogenesis, Dr. Jason Snyder’s lab explores how the brain stores information and uses it to guide future behaviour. The lab investigates the role of neurogenesis in both the memory and mood related functions of the hippocampus, including the possibility that memory-related functions may be dependent on emotional factors such as stress.

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Good Soil, Good Humans: Growing Science

When Sean Smukler left his position at Columbia University in New York for UBC, the idea of having access to a research farm on campus was tremendously appealing: “I love this part of the world but it was the job description… I couldn’t pass it up.”

Smukler, assistant professor in Applied Biology and Soil Science in the Faculty of Land and Food Systems, teaches undergrad and graduate students and is the principal investigator for the Sustainable Agricultural Landscapes (SAL) lab.

One of Smukler’s undergrad courses, Food and Environment 1: Intro to Agroecology, conducts its lab classes each week throughout the term at the UBC Farm — rain or shine. Course ‘gear’ includes waterproof boots, jacket and pants or poncho and a waterproof notebook. Beyond understanding basic ecological principles as they apply to agroecosystems, Smukler strives to imbue his students with the scientific ethos and attitude.

Read more.

Dr. Elizabeth Dunn’s Happy Lab will make you smile

Elizabeth Dunn at Poptech!

Elizabeth Dunn at Poptech!

Can we live happily ever? Is there an art to being happy? These are just some of the big questions that Professor Elizabeth Dunn answers in the Department of Psychology’s July Lab of the Month feature.

Dunn, co-author of Happy Money: The Science of Smarter Spending, has been exploring the science of happiness for over 15 years.

Read more.

Inside gut science research with Deanna Gibson and her research team

Deanna Gibson and her research team give a tour of their laboratory at the Centre of Microbiome and Inflammatory Disease, where they investigate the emerging and exciting field of microbiome research.

Watch the video on

New UBC Psychology faculty Dr. Kristin Laurin explores why we do what we do

CroppedKristin_Laurin-360x240pxDr. Kristin Laurin’s research involves some of the topics we’re not supposed to discuss at dinner parties: politics and religion. Drawing from her own life, she’s interested in how people’s goals and motivations can shape their beliefs and ideologies, and vice versa.

In a Q&A, she shares the questions she tries to answer in her research, her motto, and what she does when she’s not in the lab or classroom.

Read more.

Chef Jeremy Scott’s summer recipes

Jeremy-Scott-small-225x300pxUBC Executive Sous Chef Jeremy Scott learned at an early age that quality food was an essential ingredient to good living. Growing up in Vancouver, he watched and helped his parents and grandparents cook a variety of family meals from scratch – and his passion for cooking began.

Learn more about Jeremy and check out his summer recipes, which include bone-in rib steaks, roasted corn, and fire roasted trout with lemon caper thyme butter.

Read more.

How a little bit of theatre is shaping the doctors of tomorrow at UBC

Deirdré Fang trains healthy people to play the role of patients with medical conditions as part of UBC's Standardized Patient Program

Deirdré Fang trains healthy people to play the role of patients with medical conditions as part of UBC’s Standardized Patient program

When you visit a doctor, you might not expect to be the first patient they’ve ever treated.

Yet a scenario like this is no cause for alarm for UBC’s Deirdré Fang, or the more than 500 patient actors she coordinates for the Faculty of Medicine’s Standardized Patient program. In fact, it’s all part of the job. (more…)

The Big Question

The Big Question - 360x240px“Would you like to be our new president?”

It wasn’t the question anyone had expected—least of all the person who asked it.

When UBC communications director Julie Ovenell first stood up at the American Marketing Association Higher Ed conference in Chicago last November, she’d intended only to ask University of Cincinnati president Santa Ono to clarify a point made during his inspiring keynote address on “The Digital Presidency: Brand-building in the age of Twitter”. (more…)

What Are You Working On? With Annabel Lyon and Nancy Lee

annabel-lyon-nancy-lee-370x370Best-selling authors Annabel Lyon and Nancy Lee are professors in UBC’s Creative Writing MFA program, entry to which has long been recognized as highly competitive, in no small part due to its world-renowned faculty and rigorous standards for admission.

The department’s reputation for excellence, while buoyed by the stellar talent of its faculty, really comes from the program’s unique, hands-on approach to the craft of writing (in 11 genres) that for 50 years has shaped the Canadian literary landscape. The resulting student publication credits are too numerous to list here.

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Exploring the unexpected path to career fulfillment


Pooja Khandelwal is the lead for UBC’s Career Navigation and Transition program

What type of work would make you feel most fulfilled?

The question may seem daunting, yet UBC’s Career Navigation and Transition Consultant Pooja Khandelwal hopes it’s one you’ll reflect on regularly for the sake of your wellbeing.

“When we talk about career success, it’s really about moving away from the word ‘success’ and towards ‘wellbeing’,” says Pooja. “It’s about figuring out what really matters to you and designing a career from there.” (more…)

What Are You Working On? With Christina Sequeira


Christina Sequeira is program manager at the UBC BodyWorks Fitness Centre in Vancouver.

“Train hard, but smart” is Christina Sequeira’s motto when it comes to fitness. And for her — fitness is all the time. Sequeira is program manager at the UBC BodyWorks Fitness Centre in Vancouver. She’s a certified clinical exercise physiologist and holds both a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Kinesiology from UBC. She strives to create a multidisciplinary approach to health care and emphasizes the importance of communication between health practitioners when shaping patient care. Her talent, charisma and unique collaborative philosophy on health, make her an important voice in injury and disease prevention at UBC.

Read more.

Small scale, big impact: Mina Hoorfar’s research solving complex problems

From fuel cells, biomedical sensors and environmental monitoring, Engineering Professor Mina Hoorfar is using micro-fluidics to solve complex problems. Hoorfar is UBC Okanagan’s 2016 Researcher of the Year.

Linking literature with technology as a digital humanist

Constance Crompton, assistant professor of digital humanities at UBC’s Okanagan campus, describes how she links the study of literature with technology and researches the representation of people at the level of code.

The heart of pharmacy care evolution at UBC


Helping others and making connections is a theme that runs through Barbara’s work at the Pharmacists Clinic

How healthy is your heart? You could know the answer in less than 30 minutes, and without having to leave campus, thanks to the work of Barbara Gobis, Director of UBC’s Pharmacists Clinic.

A UBC lecturer and self-described social pharmacist, Barbara, along with her team at the clinic, are working on several new initiatives that challenge the view of a pharmacist’s work unfolding entirely behind the drug store counter. One initiative, a free cardiovascular risk assessment project for UBC’s faculty and staff, is currently connecting pharmacists with patients in a way that’s more accessible and supportive than ever. (more…)

UBC lecturer looks at the science behind teaching


Desirée Marshall-Peer is the newest member to join the Faculty of Education at UBC’s Okanagan campus

An exact formula for teaching doesn’t exist, according to the newest member in the Faculty of Education, Desirée Marshall-Peer.

Marshall-Peer has been teaching in the Okanagan for almost 10 years, and she’s seen that the traditional equation of teaching is no longer working for the next generation of learners.

“The world is different,” says Desirée, “we should be willing to look at what skills we’re teaching our students in order to succeed in the future.”

Desirée has spent the last five years collaborating with the Ministry of Education to design the new curriculum offered to B.C. students. She also made it the focus of her Master’s thesis, “inquiry-based competency learning.”

What that means, in short, is looking at the different ways you can teach students so that they are in control of how they learn and how they think. Asking students to constantly question how things work through study and experimentation.

Read more.

Hands-on mechanical engineering course turns student ideas into final products

School of Engineering Associate Professor Lukas Bichler is providing students in the Okanagan with hands-on experience to help them conceptualize, design, and build their term projects from scratch. Through exposure to different techniques and equipment, students are learning how to take an idea from design to final product.

The Next 100 Years with UBC researchers

the_next_100_years_360x240pxNearly every researcher searches for something — a clue, an anomaly, a missing link — that will unlock new knowledge about the world we live in.

In the first 100 years at UBC, discovery was paramount. But what will the next 100 years bring? We asked researchers across a range of disciplines at UBC to transport themselves into the year 2115 and imagine what they might be teaching and researching.

Read the stories.

The art of fungi with UBC Okanagan’s John Klironomos

Dr. John Klironomos talks about the diversity of projects in plant and soil ecology in which his lab is focused, including how fungi are a reminder that tiny things can have a disproportionate impact on our environment.

UBC professors create a Learning Arcade

ETEP teacher candidates, Maddie Horvat, Natalie Rivard, Hayden McIntosh and Kelsey McLellan show off their dance moves to Quigley students.

ETEP teacher candidates, Maddie Horvat, Natalie Rivard, Hayden McIntosh and Kelsey McLellan show off their dance moves to Quigley students.

The future of education will be very different from traditional classroom learning if UBC professors in the Faculty of Education at UBC’s Okanagan campus have anything to say about it.

On December 4th, professors Stephen Berg, Robert Campbell, Scott Douglas and Greg Wetterstrand decided to combine their teaching disciplines and host a Learning Arcade at Quigley Elementary School.

The Arcade required future teachers in the Elementary Education Program (ETEP) to think outside the box when coming up with activities for the young students. Many of the teacher candidates dressed up as animals and airplane pilots in order to get the students to engage with the material.

“The learning arcade encourages children to learn with their heads, hearts, and bodies all at once. There’s dancing and movement, problem solving and collaboration. It focuses on embodied learning” says Campbell.

Read more.

Curiosity takes eco-friendly breakthrough from lab to consumer

An innate curiosity drives Murray Isman, Professor of Entomology and Toxicology

An innate curiosity drives Murray Isman, Professor of Entomology and Toxicology

When faculty member Murray Isman visits the U.S., you may glimpse a smile when he spots an EcoSMART product.

The Professor of Entomology and Toxicology, who resides within UBC’s Faculty of Land and Food Systems, has been instrumental in helping the company develop a suite of products, containing environmentally friendly pesticides and insecticides. (more…)

The next best thing to holding a brain in your hand

UBC Okanagan’s Associate Professor of Biology, Bruce Mathieson, is using technology to help students learn neurobiology. Through videos and interactive online applications, Mathieson is finding the majority of students are excelling through these methods.

An interview with Judith Fograscher – United Way Campaign Hero

judith2Judith Fograscher from Payment and Procurement Services shares her UBC United Way campaign story

How long have you been involved in the UBC United Way campaign?

I have been involved in the campaign the whole time I have worked here. At first, I supported the campaign by offering two airline tickets to anywhere in North America. The university conducts a lot of business with the airlines and as their appreciation they were willing to donate a pair of tickets. It just made sense to give these tickets back to our UBC employees that support an organization that strengthens our community. This has taken place for around five years now. (more…)

Professor Rudolf Seethaler’s tools of tomorrow

Studying the high-speed motion control, UBC-O’s School of Engineering Professor Rudolf Seethaler and his team are developing the tools of tomorrow in automated automobile valves, fuel-injectors and contouring performance of mill tools.


An interview with Dean Marc Parlange – United Way Campaign Hero


Marc Parlange, Dean of the Faculty of Applied Science, tells all on what the UBC United Way campaign means to him. 

How long have you been involved with the UBC United Way campaign?

This is the third year that I have been involved in the UBC United Way Campaign. When I first joined the university, I had the idea of bringing people together. I thought, why not do a run? It was later decided to offer the chance for others to beat me in a race to the flagpole and back and I would match their donation. David Slade (UBC Engineering Student and Varsity Athlete) caught wind of this opportunity and students put together a Facebook page requesting pledges for David to run in the Turkey 2K Trot. The whole track team showed up to the event and David beat my time and raised over $600 for the campaign. (more…)

UBC-O professor heading to global conference on sustainable agriculture

Tirso_Gonzales-blogFor Tirso Gonzales, an associate professor at UBC Okanagan, the problems with the western world’s way of farming are clear. Current practices such as monocropping, pesticide use, and only using a select group of plant species are solely profit driven and unsustainable.

These practices have largely ignored agricultural knowledge of more than 1.2 billion indigenous people and small farmers around the world, knowledge that will be the topic of discussion when Gonzales attends the second Indigenous Terra Madre (Mother Earth), a world conference on the subject in Shillong, India next week.

Read more.

Siobhán McPhee’s geographical exploration


Siobhán holds a joint role with the Geography department and Vantage College

It’s probably safe to assume that Siobhán McPhee’s first international move – to Africa at age three – primed her for her current role as professor in the Geography department and Vantage College.

Born in Vancouver, Siobhán spent most of her childhood in Africa and later the Middle East. It was during this time her fascination with geography was born. She moved to Ireland (her mother’s homeland) to study anthropology and economics. That was followed by another stint in the Middle East, where she exchanged the role of student for that of teacher in an Abu Dhabi international school. (more…)

Bake sales raise $1700 for the United Way

bakesaleAs part of the UBC Vancouver’s United Way ‘week of caring’, VP Research and International, Office of Research Services, Payment and Procurement Service, and VP Students joined forces to share delicious sweet and savory baked treats with the campus community, to raise $1700 for the United Way. 

Many thanks to the participating departments and the faculty, staff and students who indulged in the baked goodies.

Learn more about the United Way campaign and how you can get involved Vancouver | Okanagan


Faculty and staff kick for a cause and raise $300 for the United Way

kickboxingAs the UBC Vancouver’s United Way ‘week of caring’ came to a close, one last event inspired faculty and and staff to get active. On October 16th, Rehana Aziz from Pharmaceutical Sciences coordinated a lunchtime kickboxing class, with registration donations going to United Way.

DeLo Fitness led participants in jabbing, blocking and roundhouse-kicking their way to making their daily cardio quota. After an intense workout, the motivated (and slightly sweaty!) group gathered to listen to a presentation from the United Way, learning about how exactly their donations impact the community. These champs truly were kicking for a cause and raised $300 in the process.

Learn more about the United Way campaign and how you can get involved Vancouver | Okanagan

Stretch for a Cause raises $160 for the United Way

yogaStretch for a Cause, part of the UBC Vancouver’s United Way ‘week of caring’, brought together 35 faculty and staff yogis and raised over $160 for the United Way. 

Thank you to the volunteers and Development and Alumni Engagement Services who organized the event. 

Learn more about the United Way campaign and how you can get involved Vancouver | Okanagan

Food truck festival raises $632 for the United Way

151015FoodUBC_0001Laughter, culinary delights, and theatrical performances abounded at the UBC United Way campaign’s inaugural Food Truck Festival on October 15 in Vancouver. After grabbing a plate from one of UBC Food Services’ trucks, faculty, staff and students were able to enjoy some incredibly entertaining acts courtesy of the Theatre and Film department, the UBC Opera Ensemble, and the School of Music. Audio equipment was generously provided by UBC Media Group.

With $1 from every meal sold donated to the United Way, this event raised an impressive $632.

Learn more about the United Way campaign and how you can get involved Vancouver | Okanagan

Antique china sale raises $6,500 for the United Way

antiquesAt 3:30pm there was already a large crowd lining up for the 4 o’clock opening of the first annual Antique China Sale at Sage restaurant on the Vancouver campus.

Student Housing and Hospitality Services and Ceremonies and Events recently orchestrated a sale and silent auction for unique pieces of UBC-crested Wedgewood China and raised over $6,500 for the Lower Mainland community.

Learn more about the United Way campaign and how you can get involved Vancouver | Okanagan

Turkey 2K Trot – A message from Marc Parlange, Dean of Applied Science

151014TurkeyTrot_0215ADear colleagues,

Thank you all sincerely for rallying your Faculty, teams, mascots and clubs in Vancouver to come out for the third annual Turkey 2K fun run/walk for the United Way. We were blessed with a sunny day—the skies parted, and so did the mountain of wet leaves, stream of water filling the Martha Piper Fountain and all the food trucks before us on Main Mall.

Thanks to all the deans (Simon and Rickey!), associate deans, heads/directors, professors, staff and students for coming out and participating. (more…)

Faculty and staff go head to head in the UBC Library United Way Spelling Bee


The Ceremonies and Events’ team, “The Lexicons,” walked away with the top prize

Sharpened pencils in hand, 91 perspicacious staff and faculty vied for vocabulary excellence in the 6th Annual Spelling Bee for the UBC Vancouver United Way Campaign. Coordinated by Harry Young and emceed by Sarah Dupont, the Spelling Bee always proves to be a rousing good time, with teams cheering at their correctly spelled words, and chuckling at their more fruitless ventures. Although there was some fierce competition, this year Ceremonies and Events’ team, “The Lexicons,” walked away with the top prize!

Donations from participants went to the United Way of the Lower Mainland in support of numerous social services across Vancouver.

Learn more about the United Way campaign and how you can get involved Vancouver | Okanagan

Sauder faculty and staff sell hot dogs to raise over $700 for United Way

SauderAs everyone was getting back into the swing of fall classes, Sauder faculty and staff were hard at work selling hot dogs to raise over $700 for United Way on September 23. Laughing, smiling, and making enthusiastic attempts to capture the attention of passersby, Sauder faculty and staff were able to use their keen business sense to provide two services: supplying students and staff with the necessity of lunch while supporting children, seniors, and families in our local community.

This event was organised by Patricia Fraser, with the help of Debra Harris.

Learn more about the United Way campaign and how you can get involved Vancouver | Okanagan

Vancouver staff save 200kg of waste from landfill at Welcome Back BBQ

Welcome Back BBQ SustainabilityOnce the barbeques were put away, tables cleared, chairs folded and 4,000 staff went back to their offices, only one small, desk bin-sized bag of garbage was left. The rest of the waste from UBC Vancouver’s annual Welcome Back Staff BBQ—200 kg—was sorted into compost and recycling.

Read more.

UBC-O unveils massive university replica cake

Faculty, staff and students at UBC Okanagan built a delicious replica of campus to commemorate 100 years of UBC and 10 years of the Okanagan campus. The 4 x 6 ft, 200 lbs masterpiece boasted everything from students walking around to the different types of trees found on campus.

On the run with Malcolm Smillie

Malcolm takes to UBC's trails every lunch time

Malcolm takes to UBC’s trails every lunch time

You’d be forgiven for not knowing that the Sauder School of Business is home to one of the best Master track athletes in the world. Malcolm Smillie is his name, and he is responsible for Business Development for the Hari B. Varshney Business Career Centre. Over his 36 year running career, he’s clocked a whopping 209,215 km (that’s the equivalent of more than five times around the world).

Malcolm, who’s been with UBC for three years in January, has an impressive track record (excuse the pun). Not only is he the 2005 World Masters Games gold medal winner for the 1500 meters race, he has won provincial championships in the 800 and 1500 meter races for ten consecutive years. (more…)

Phyllis Poon’s quarter century at UBC

As UBC approaches its centennial, Phyllis reflects on what a quarter century at UBC means to her

As UBC approaches its centennial, Phyllis reflects on what a quarter century at UBC means to her

As UBC prepares to celebrate 100 years, the handful of faculty and staff who are in the exclusive 25, 35 and 40 Year Clubs will be reflecting on that time knowingly.

Phyllis Poon is among them. During the 26 years she’s been at UBC, she has helped enroll thousands of graduate students to the university, has seen UBC evolve into one of the top 40 universities globally, and watched her oldest daughter go from being an undergraduate Arts student to a qualified teacher.

UBC welcomed Phyllis in 1989. It was the year the Berlin Wall fell, the year loonies replaced the one-dollar bill and the year George Bush Sr. became President of the United States. (more…)

Tapping into talent at UBC

In Zanna Downes' life outside of UBC, she's part of the internationally-renowned tap company, Razzmatap

In Zanna Downes’ life outside of UBC, she’s part of the internationally-renowned tap company, Razzmatap

For students in the Department of Theatre and Film, Zanna Downes is a friendly face, ready to help with enrolment and any other questions they may have.

As a department secretary on UBC’s Vancouver campus, she is often on hand to provide a supportive voice to students as they navigate the university.

But little do Zanna’s students know, she has ‘another life’ in which she herself is in the spotlight – as a member of an internationally-renowned tap company called Razzmatap.

Razzmatap is a company of dancers from all over the Lower Mainland. Their ages range from 44 to 86 and their backgrounds are just as diverse. The one thing they all have in common is a love for tap. (more…)

Ayman Elnaggar’s unique approach to teaching

Ayman Elnaggar, instructor in UBC Okanagan’s School of Engineering, shares his unique approach to teaching.

Letters from the River: Chapter 1

Ngaio Hotte and Harry Nelson, both from the Faculty of Forestry, are taking to the river this summer before they get married in September.

Ngaio Hotte and Harry Nelson, both from the Faculty of Forestry, are taking to the river this summer before they get married in September.

All our bags are packed; we’re ready to go

This is it: the last day before we leave for our cross-country canoe trip.

We’re here in Alberta staying with Harry’s family. Tomorrow, his mother will drive us down to Lake Louise and drop us off east of the town site at a spot along the Bow River where we’ll put the canoe in the water and begin our journey!

Looking back from this point, preparing for both the trip and the wedding was even more work than either of us had imagined. Would we do it differently if we could? Absolutely not. Read more.



New physicist Jenny Hoffman hits the ground running

HoffmanEDITED770Jenny Hoffman ran almost five consecutive marathons in one day last September. The epic 203-kilometre day garnered her the 2014 National Championship in USA Track and Field’s 24-Hour Run, a gruelling endurance challenge.

When she’s not running along the seawall or through the trails of Pacific Spirit Park, the physicist will be developing new quantum materials. These new materials are not yet well understood but they offer useful electronic and magnetic properties that are expected to revolutionize energy technologies, computing and medical equipment.Now, the ultra-marathoner and Harvard University professor joins UBC as its newest Canada Excellence Research Chair (CERC). The federally-funded CERC program is designed to attract top researchers to Canada from around the world, with the aim of strengthening scientific research.

Read more.

What are you working on, Miriam Toews?

Author Miriam Toews tells us about being a writer in residence and working with the faculty and students in the UBC Creative Writing department.

Professor Qian Wang brings the classroom to the community

Dr. Qian Wang helped students improve their Mandarin speaking skills by introducing them to Chinatown seniors

Dr. Qian Wang helped students improve their Mandarin speaking skills by introducing them to Chinatown seniors

When learning a language, textbooks can only take you so far. That’s why Professor Qian Wang was seeking innovative ways to help third-year language students improve their Mandarin speaking skills. She didn’t have to look too far – the Learning Exchange had a unique solution that offered both real-life learning and community engagement.

“I had learned about community-based learning at a campus showcase and it was an eye-opener for me,” says Wang, Instructor and Chinese Language Program Director in the Asian Studies department.

After discussions with staff and faculty colleagues, she was introduced to the Learning Exchange as a community-based learning option that might be a good fit for her students. She worked with the Learning Exchange to develop a program that partnered students with seniors in the Downtown Eastside’s Mandarin-speaking community. These life-long learners meet weekly at the Learning Exchange’s English Conversation Program. They generously agreed to share sessions with the young Mandarin speakers – creating a ready-made community learning space for UBC students. (more…)

Professor Michael Griffin’s philosophical comparison

Michael is a Faculty Fellow for Jump Start and the first professor to participate in the ‘Faculty in Residence’ program

If you have an appetite for challenging the typical faculty/student interactions at UBC, you could do worse than spend an hour with Michael Griffin, Assistant Professor in the Department of Philosophy. Michael is at the forefront of a number of initiatives on our Vancouver campus, which are beginning to redefine the way these groups interact.

Michael’s recent research has focused on the early stages of philosophical education, in the ancient Greek and Roman world, leading him to draw a number of comparisons with his interests as a modern-day teacher.

He explains: “The development of the higher education system in ancient times was integrated with the question of how to create pro-social, caring, altruistic members of society.” (more…)

Land and Food Systems faculty and staff raise $6,300 for the Heart & Stroke Foundation

big bikeTwenty-nine faculty and staff from the Faculty of Land and Food Systems raised more than $6,300 for heart disease and stroke research by participating in the Heart & Stroke Foundation’s Big Bike event on May 4th. Led by Dean Rickey Yada, Team LFS rode the 30 seat bike around the Vancouver campus for 20 minutes. LFS came in first at UBC, both in participation and in dollars raised.



Land and Food Systems’ “bright idea”

Patrick Leung, Technician for LFS, suggested the Faculty purchase a bike to save people from using vehicle transportation around campus

Patrick Leung, Technician for LFS, suggested the Faculty purchase a bike to save people from using vehicle transportation around campus

What’s one way to improve the way the university operates? By inviting faculty and staff to be part of the thought process.

And that’s exactly what’s happening across UBC right now, with faculty and staff being invited to identify new revenue sources and efficiencies for the university. The UBC-wide initiative aims to involve faculty and staff in a conversation about new ways of working.

This approach is already bringing success to the Faculty of Land and Food Systems in Vancouver, who launched their own ideas program in October of last year. The ‘LFS Bright Ideas’ program invites their community to submit ideas that improve the way the Faculty works. (more…)

Dr. Hennie J.J. van Vuuren gives us a tour of UBC’s Wine Library

Dr. Hennie J.J. van Vuuren came to UBC in 1999 to set up a wine research centre. Here he gives a tour of the Wine Library he set up and shares some of the work that takes place there.

UBC-O prof gives his students a front row experience

Management Professor John Burton from UBC-O explains why he assigns seats to his students.

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Read more about how Professor Burton’s ‘front row experience’ is helping further UBC’s intercultural goals.

What are you working on, Jonathan Girard?

Jonathan Girard, Director of the UBC Symphony Orchestra, gives us a glimpse into the work of a conductor and the elements of performance that fuel his passion for music.

Profile: Yves Lucet, Computer Science Professor from UBC-O

Meet Computer Science Professor Yves Lucet from UBC-O. Learn more about how his research sits on the boundary between Mathematics and Computer Science.

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What are you working on, Collin Varner?

As UBC’s Horticulturist and Arboriculturist, it’s Collin Varner’s job to take care of all the trees on the Vancouver Campus. Here’s what he’s working on.