Peter Wall News Feed
Faculty Associates publish climate change policy report
A group of Peter Wall Faculty Associates recently published a policy paper through Sustainable Canada Doalogues, which calls for 100 per cent reliance on low-carbon electricity by 2035.
The report, "Acting on Climate Change", is an initiative of 60 researchers across Canada whose individual research programs all centre around sustainability.
Peter Wall Faculty Associates & UBC professors, Sally Otto, Sally Aitken and Stephen Sheppard are among the group of 60 researchers who unanimously recommend putting a price on carbon and propose three ways in which Canada can reduce its greenhouse gas emissions:
1) producing electricity with low-carbon sources
2) modifying energy consumption through urban design and a "transportation revolution"
3) broader sustainability agenda through the creation of open governance institutions
Testing human exposure to diesel exhaust
The Institute is delighted to welcome William Brune, Distinguished Professor of Meteorology at Penn State University, as Peter Wall International Visiting Research Scholar to UBC.
Brune's research addresses fundamental questions of air quality near the Earth's surface and atmospheric effects of global pollution in the middle and upper troposphere.
During his stay at UBC, he will be working with UBC host, Chris Carlsten from the Faculty of Medicine and the School of Population and Public Health, to bring Brune's innovative Potential Aerosol Mass (PAM) concepts chamber to UBC's Air Exposure Pollution Lab (APEL).
Carlsten is recognized for his novel methods for performing safe human exposure tests to a variety of inhaled toxicants in order to understand mechanisms by which these toxicants effect our respiratory and immune systems.
Leveraging principles of PAM, Brune and Carlsten intend to rapidly age diesel exhaust - in just a few minutes - so that it has the properties of exhaust that has been subject to days to weeks of chemical aging in the atmosphere. They will then study the effects of human exposure to this more realistic aged diesel exhaust.
Stay tuned for a public lecture with William Brune.
New international paper answers age-old question in Ecology
A new paper published today in the journal, Ecology, has answered a longstanding ecological question.
Diane Srivastava, one of the authors of the study, a Wall Scholar and a UBC Professor of Ecology, says that by collating data from around the world on a common aquatic food web, the study has determined why some habitats seem to have a lot of predators, while other habitats just have a few.
"Habitats with lots of predators are often large," says Srivastava. "The types of predators that are highly efficient in consuming prey, like fish, lizards, frogs or carnivorous insects like damselflies, are exactly the same types of predators that are sensitive to the disturbances in small habitats."
The study showed that in sites with damselflies, the large bromeliad plants were disproportionately full of predators (including damselflies), which drove down the number of prey. The sensitivity of a dominant predator - damselfly larvae - to the size of its habitat can cascade through multiple levels in the foodchain, creating a shift in the entire food web as the bromeliad plant size increases.
Researchers collected composition and biomass data from 651 plant communities (bromeliads) from eight sites across Central and South America differing in environmental conditions, species pools and the presence of large-bodied carnivorous insect predators, like damselflies.
This is one of the first publications of the Bromeliad Working Group, an international network of researchers, who has pooled their data to answer big questions in ecology like this one.
"Important generalities can emerge when we examine ecological patterns not just in one location, but around the world," adds Srivastava.
"This shows the power of scientists pooling their data when they study the same system but in different parts of the world. We could have never determined this from data from just one site."
Derek Gregory to be bestowed Honorary Fellowship of King's College London
Gregory will officially be bestowed the Fellowship at King's College in London, UK in July 2015 during graduation ceremonies.
Wall Scholar receives Award from American Craft Council
Wall Scholar and UBC Assistant Professor of Art History, Visual Art & Theory, T'ai Smith, has been awarded the Emerging Voices Award from the American Craft Council.
Smith received the award in recognition for best emerging scholar of 2015. She will also be featured in the 2015 June/July issue of American Craft magazine as well as in a journal published by the American Craft Council.
The newly established American Craft Council Emerging Voices Award will be presented biennially in recognition and support of the generation of makers and thinkers in the field of contemporary craft.
Christian Naus receives $1.5 million grant for Alzeimer's research
Christian Naus, professor in UBC's Department of Cellular and Physiological Sciences and 2013-2014 Peter Wall Distinguished Scholar in Residence, has just received $1.5 million from the British Columbia Alzheimer's Research Award Program.
His project, Improving the neighbourhood for brain cells in Alzheimer’s disease, will identify unique new drugs which will not only directly target neurons but also enhance the astrocytes’ abilities to protect neurons that are vulnerable to degeneration in Alzheimer’s.
He says the connections he made as a Distinguished Scholar through the Peter Wall Institute helped him develop the proposal for this award.
“I was able to gather experts from around the world for the first Canadian Colloquium on Gap Junctions and Disease, as well as host Christian Giaume as a Peter Wall International Visiting Research Scholar from the Collège de France, who is an expert in targeting glial connexin channels for the treatment of neurological disease," says Dr. Naus.
"These opportunities helped us develop the Brain Canada proposal on gap junction channels, which will now lead to new research and treatments for Alzeimer’s Disease in BC and Canada.”
Naus is among two other UBC researchers and three other SFU researchers, who together, have received $7.5 million in research funding towards Alzeimer's. The Alzheimer's Research Award Program is a collaboration between Brain Canada, the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research (MSFHR), Genome British Columbia (Genome BC), and The Pacific Alzheimer Research Foundation (PARF).
Planting the seed for hip health
Centre for Hip Health receives provincial grant to prevent hip fractures in older adults
Peter Wall Faculty Associate, Heather Mckay, Director of UBC’s Centre for Hip Health and Mobility, recently received a $4.5 million grant through the Provincial Health Services Authority (PHSA) to help prevent falls and hip fractures in older adults and enhance mobility though early intervention.
The seeds for Mckay's research into fall prevention began during her tenure as an 2001-2002 Early Career Scholar at the Peter Wall Institute and continued during a 2002 Exploratory Workshop, Transdisciplinary Research to Prevent the Epidemic of Hip Fracture, led by Karim Khan, founder of the Centre for Hip Health and Mobility, and 2001-2002 Peter Wall Early Career Scholar.
“Our Exploratory Workshop helped build substantial relationships that led to collaborations across Canada and internationally,” says Khan.
Two years later in 2004, Khan and others received funding from the Canada Foundation for Innovation program to build the Centre. The Centre subsequently opened in 2011.
"The important relationships we created during our tenure as Scholars at the Institute shaped the course of the workshop and later studies," adds McKay.
McKay is also the Principal Investigator of the Wall Solutions Initiative project, Active Streets Active People, which focuses on the intersections between physical mobility, the neighbourhood built environment, social interactions — and ultimately, how these things impact health. The goal is to better identify those built environment features that help individuals across the lifespan (1 to 100 yrs) live healthy, active lives in their neighbourhoods.
Part of the recent $4.5 million grant from PHSA will enable the Centre for Hip Health to expand programming that increases the mobility of less active seniors through education and awareness, tailored programs, and the development of tools to create safe and healthy communities.
Prize-winning author Camilla Gibb visits UBC
The Institute is delighted to host prize-winning Canadian author, Camilla Gibb, at the Institute and UBC as 2014 writer-in-residence.
She has written four critically acclaimed novels—Mouthing the Words, The Petty Details of So-and-so’s Life, Sweetness in the Belly and The Beauty of Humanity Movement—and is published around the world in fourteen languages.
During her two week stay, Gibb will participate in the creative and intellectual life of the Institute, and will meet with with professors and students from UBC Creative Writing.
On November 5, 2014, she will give a public talk as part of the Wall Wednesday Afternoon Series entitled Empathy, Narrative Truth and Artistic Process.
Read a recent Q&A with Camilla Gibb in The Wall Papers.