Patty Wellborn



Coral species differ in their contribution to the complexity of the habitat, and their response to disturbances and capacity to compete. Modelling the resilience of coral communities will help ecologists design reef management and restoration strategies. Photo credit: Jean-Philippe Maréchal.

‘Virtual’ coral reefs become diagnostic tool to help manage the planet’s reefs

A UBC Okanagan researcher has developed a way to predict the future health of the planet’s coral reefs.

Working with scientists from Australia’s Flinders University and privately-owned research firm Nova Blue Environment, biology doctoral student Bruno Carturan has been studying the ecosystems of the world’s endangered reefs.

“Coral reefs are among the most diverse ecosystems on Earth and they support the livelihoods of more than 500 million people,” says Carturan. “But coral reefs are also in peril. About 75 per cent of the world’s coral reefs are threatened by habitat loss, climate change and other human-caused disturbances.”

Carturan, who studies resilience, biodiversity and complex systems under UBCO Professors Lael Parrott and Jason Pither, says nearly all the world’s reefs will be dangerously affected by 2050 if no effective measures are taken.

There is hope, however, as he has determined a way to examine the reefs and explore why some reef ecosystems appear to be more resilient than others. Uncovering why, he says, could help stem the losses.

“In other ecosystems, including forests and wetlands, experiments have shown that diversity is key to resilience,” says Carturan. “With more species, comes a greater variety of form and function—what ecologists call traits. And with this, there is a greater likelihood that some particular traits, or combination of traits, help the ecosystem better withstand and bounce back from disturbances.”

The importance of diversity for the health and stability of ecosystems has been extensively investigated by ecologists, he explains. While the consensus is that ecosystems with more diversity are more resilient and function better, the hypothesis has rarely been tested experimentally with corals.

Using an experiment to recreate the conditions found in real coral reefs is challenging for several reasons—one being that the required size, timeframe and number of different samples and replicates are just unmanageable.

That’s where computer simulation modelling comes in.

“Technically called an ‘agent-based model’, it can be thought of as a virtual experimental arena that enables us to manipulate species and different types of disturbances, and then examine their different influences on resilience in ways that are just not feasible in real reefs,” explains Carturan.

In his simulation arena, individual coral colonies and algae grow, compete with one another, reproduce and die. And they do all this in realistic ways. By using agent-based models—with data collected by many researchers over decades—scientists can manipulate the initial diversity of corals, including their number and identity, and see how the virtual reef communities respond to threats.

“This is crucial because these traits are the building blocks that give rise to ecosystem structure and function. For instance, corals come in a variety of forms—from simple spheres to complex branching—and this influences the variety of fish species these reefs host, and their susceptibility to disturbances such as cyclones and coral bleaching.”

By running simulations over and over again, the model can identify combinations that can provide the greatest resilience. This will help ecologists design reef management and restoration strategies using predictions from the model, says collaborating Flinders researcher Professor Corey Bradshaw.

“Sophisticated models like ours will be useful for coral-reef management around the world,” Bradshaw adds. “For example, Australia’s iconic Great Barrier Reef is in deep trouble from invasive species, climate change-driven mass bleaching and overfishing.”

“This high-resolution coral ‘video game’ allows us to peek into the future to make the best possible decisions and avoid catastrophes.”

The research, supported by grants from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada and the Canada Foundation for Innovation, was published recently in eLife.

A UBCO researcher is using years of compiled data to determine how virtual reef communities will respond to threats including cyclones and coral bleaching. Photo credit: Jean-Philippe Maréchal.

A UBCO researcher is using years of compiled data to determine how virtual reef communities will respond to threats including cyclones and coral bleaching. Photo credit: Jean-Philippe Maréchal.

About UBC's Okanagan campus

UBC’s Okanagan campus is an innovative hub for research and learning founded in 2005 in partnership with local Indigenous peoples, the Syilx Okanagan Nation, in whose territory the campus resides. As part of UBC—ranked among the world’s top 20 public universities—the Okanagan campus combines a globally recognized UBC education with a tight-knit and entrepreneurial community that welcomes students and faculty from around the world in British Columbia’s stunning Okanagan Valley.

To find out more, visit:

Lake Country’s Teagan MacDougall is the 2020 recipient of the Pushor Mitchell LLP Gold Medal Leadership Prize.

Aspiring pediatrician wins top student award

Teagan MacDougall reminds herself of one thing when the going gets tough—how worthwhile this will all be when she’s able to help sick children as a pediatrician.

Today, MacDougall graduates with a Bachelor of Science in microbiology (honours), celebrating not only the end of her undergraduate career, but also being awarded the Pushor Mitchell LLP Gold Medal Leadership Prize.

The $10,000 prize, now in its 11th year, is the highest honour available for an Irving K. Barber School of Arts and Sciences student and recognizes a graduating student who has excelled academically and shown leadership while earning their degree.

Andrew Brunton, managing partner at Pushor Mitchell LLP, says the firm is proud to recognize the accomplishments of another exceptional student at UBC Okanagan.

“We are happy to support Teagan and hope she continues to chase her dream of becoming a pediatrician and is able to continue her great work in the community,” says Brunton. “We are proud to be a supporter of UBC Okanagan and to be able to add Teagan to the distinguished list of Pushor Mitchell LLP Gold Medal Leadership Prize winners.”

MacDougall grew up a short drive from the UBC campus in Lake Country, BC. After graduating high school, she relocated to Whistler to spend her days on the slopes and evenings working in the hospitality industry—before returning to the Okanagan and enrolling at UBCO in 2016.

Having enjoyed biology in high school, and knowing her end-goal was medical school—microbiology was a natural choice.

Though thrilled to be back in the classroom—bad study habits started to haunt her. She struggled during her first semester, trying to learn weeks of course material for an upcoming midterm in one night.

“I was up all-night studying, drank six red bulls, and I got 20 per cent,” she says. “It made me wonder whether or not I was cut out for university—I asked myself what I wanted to do. I could either walk away or try harder and I decided to try harder.”

MacDougall registered for a summer physics course—this time committing to give it her all.

She did just that—and completed the course with 97 per cent. From that moment forward, she never received a grade lower than an A.

Aside from academic achievements, MacDougall was deeply involved in research during her time at UBCO, volunteering in a biomedical research lab, and working as an undergraduate research assistant.

An honours student, MacDougall also produced original research investigating the persistency and viability of a fungal probiotic in the human gastrointestinal tract—winning first-place poster presentation at UBCO’s Undergraduate Research Conference.

In her sparse spare time, MacDougall founded Heroes for Little Heroes, a registered Canadian non-profit where volunteers wear princess and superhero costumes to visit medically-vulnerable children at local hospitals and disadvantaged children at social service institutions.

“The smile on their faces when they see a princess or superhero walk into the room—it’s so heartwarming,” says MacDougall.

“We do crafts, read books and just talk and keep them company—but, honestly, they’re the real heroes. They overcome huge adversities at a young age and still come out smiling—they’re so brave and inspire me to be resilient every day.”

Aside from pediatrics visits, MacDougall is also a volunteer at Kelowna General Hospital, doing patient visitations and providing information in the emergency department. She also serves as a youth mental health ambassador with the Kelty Mental Health Resource Centre at BC Children’s Hospital, a position that piqued her interest for personal reasons.

“During my teenage years, I suffered from an eating disorder,” she explains. “Although it was horrible—I try to think of it as a silver lining. That experience helps me to better understand and empathize with youth suffering from similar disorders.”

Over the next few months, MacDougall will work with the early detection research group at the BC Cancer Agency—while studying to take the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT) this fall.

Though her medical school of choice is UBC’s Southern Medical Program on the Okanagan campus, MacDougall says she’s open to the idea of relocating if necessary.

“Wherever my journey takes me, the financial flexibility that comes with winning this award will allow me to further my education and continue growing my foundation with the goal of helping as many people as possible,” she says, thanking Pushor Mitchell and her professors for their support.

As she graduates today, she shares one final lesson not learned in a textbook.

“Hard work does pay off and I want my fellow students to know they are capable of much more than they know. No one should sell themselves short. Anything worth having is worth working for—it’s so simple, yet so true.”

UBCO’s Dominica Patterson has won the Lieutenant Governor’s Medal for Inclusion, Democracy and Reconciliation. She is now preparing for law school.

Silver Medal for Inclusion, Democracy and Reconciliation

Shortly after high school, Dominica Patterson boarded a plane to volunteer in Benin, West Africa. While she knew an adventure was waiting, she had no idea how that journey would light a spark that would eventually lead to law school.

Now, as she graduates from UBC Okanagan and studies for her Law School Admission Test (LSAT), Patterson has been named the winner of the Lieutenant Governor’s Medal for Inclusion, Democracy and Reconciliation. It’s an honour reserved for a student with a strong academic standing and who has also made a difference in this world.

Patterson admits she didn’t take high school seriously enough and had no idea what her future would bring. She signed up for the cultural exchange and left the rest up to fate.

“I assumed I was going on a big ‘save the planet’ project and I’d come back feeling like a great person,” she says. “To my benefit, it was not that type of program and it certainly opened my eyes. I quickly learned a lot about integrating into a new society, and the conflicts between foreign affairs, international aid and the lack of human rights many people struggle with.”

In Benin, she lived in a small rural village, worked on a community farm and also shadowed health care professionals in a nearby maternity clinic. The experience lit a fire in Patterson. She became passionate about global affairs and human rights. Back in Canada, after completing an associate degree in criminal justice she transferred to UBC Okanagan, bridging her credits towards a bachelor’s degree in international relations.

She quickly became involved in a number of organizations, most notably the non-profit group Radical Action with Migrants in Agriculture (RAMA).

“Working alongside human rights lawyers and executive organizers of the organization, I joined the fight to stand with temporary migrant workers in Canada against the structural racism, violence, isolation, discrimination and poor living and working conditions they often face while working here,” she explains.

She also began a fundraising campaign, helping support a person while he was waiting for the ruling of the Canadian BC Human Rights Tribunal. Not only did she start a Go Fund Me campaign, but she also created a business selling succulents in vintage teapots to raise money to support his family.

All this, while working on her degree. She admits there were some long nights poring over textbooks, and endless papers to write. But her work with RAMA inspired her to make a difference. The spark that had been lit in Benin, continued to burn.

“I took each moment in each course as it came along. Then I made the dean’s list and suddenly I knew I had the possibility of getting where I wanted to go. I knew there was no giving up.”

By then Patterson, and her passion for justice, was noticed by some of her professors.

“She has all of the hallmarks of being an outstanding scholar and someone who will be a practical change-maker around issues of inequality, inclusion and social justice,” says Economics, Philosophy and Political Science Department Head, Professor Helen Yanacopulos. “Teaching Dominica has been not only inspiring, but also intellectually stimulating and an absolute pleasure.”

And in 2019, Associate Professor of History Jessica Stites Mor invited Patterson to help coordinate a conference on International Solidarity Movement New York City.

“Dominica is an outstanding student and promises to contribute great things in the future. Her research on labour issues between Latin America and Canada has involved a deep reading of hemispheric labour conflict and activism with RAMA,” she adds. “Her family’s experience coming to Canada from Chile in the aftermath of Pinochet’s military coup has inspired her to consider the connections between everyday acts of exploitation and the foundations of citizenship and democracy.”

And the spark for human rights continues to burn. She takes her LSAT in July and has applied for law school, with a focus on international affairs. It’s daunting, she says, thinking of the years of course work ahead. But hearing about the Lieutenant Governor’s Silver Medal only sparks the flame for justice.

“At certain points, you find yourself on the floor, exhausted. You wonder how you’re going to get through this. But you can’t quit, because you want to make a difference,” she says. “To have this recognition is something I never expected. I can now look back at those moments when I was on my knees—done and ready to give up. I wish I could have told myself then it was going to be worth it. This is an amazing end to my time at UBCO and I couldn’t be more humbled or more grateful. I am truly thankful.”

Rick Mercer will deliver the 2020 keynote address. Mercer was a 2010 UBC honorary degree recipient.

Virtual ceremony takes place Wednesday as more than 1,900 students graduate

UBC Okanagan’s Convocation of 2020 will go down in history as a unique event. Instead of students, parents and faculty joining together on campus, the celebrations will be held virtually.

“The context of 2020 has made necessary a very different approach to our graduation ceremony this year,” says Deborah Buszard, Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Principal of UBC’s Okanagan campus. “While the ceremony will be virtual, the remarkable achievements of our students are very real and worthy of recognition. I invite everyone to join me in celebrating the Class of 2020.”

This year, 1,925 students have qualified for convocation from UBC Okanagan—that includes 1,600 undergraduates, more than 270 students who have earned a master’s degree and 45 newly-conferred doctorate degrees.

While convocation is a time of celebration, it’s also a time of long-kept traditions. The program will begin with Chancellor Lindsay Gordon presiding over the virtual ceremony. UBC President and Vice-Chancellor Santa J. Ono and Buszard will both address the Class of 2020 live, dressed in full academic regalia. And graduates will have an opportunity to take a virtual selfie with President Ono.

UBC has arranged for Canadian icon and comedian Rick Mercer to deliver the 2020 keynote address. Mercer was a 2010 UBC honorary degree recipient.

Students have had the opportunity to purchase graduation regalia, special graduation gifts, create a personalized commemorative graduation video clip, download congratulatory signs and sign a guest book with congratulatory messages.

The virtual ceremony will last 45 minutes and it will be livestreamed on June 17, with a pre-show beginning at 2:30 p.m. The ceremony begins at 3 p.m. and a 20-minute virtual alumni reception takes place at 3:55 p.m. The ceremony can also be watched on YouTube, Facebook or Panopto, a platform that is accessible from many countries. To find out more, visit:

“These are, indeed, unusual times, and UBC students have shown once again their resilience and ability to cope and thrive in the face of change,” says Buszard. “With everything they have accomplished over these past months and over the course of their studies, I couldn’t be more proud of the extraordinary UBC Okanagan Class of 2020. Congratulations.”

This year’s medal recipients

  • Governor General’s Gold Medal: Mike Tymko
  • Lieutenant Governor’s Medal Program for Inclusion, Democracy and Reconciliation: Dominica Patterson
  • UBC Medal in Fine Arts: Aiden de Vin
  • UBC Medal in Arts: Ellie Jane Fedec
  • UBC Medal in Science: Nicholas Kayban
  • UBC Medal in Education: Alyssa Pembleton
  • UBC Medal in Nursing: Christopher Popel
  • UBC Medal in Management: Amanda Campbell
  • UBC Medal in Human Kinetics: Madison Powls
  • UBC Medal in Engineering: Tyler Ho

Lots of people are using creative ideas like painting to keep busy during times of self-isolation and social distancing.

UBCO researcher explores the science behind imagination

A new study from UBC’s Okanagan campus is shedding light into how human creativity works and how novel ideas are formed—something the study’s researchers say is becoming increasingly important.

“The more the world changes, the more we need creative ideas,” says Liane Gabora, a UBC Okanagan psychology professor and creativity researcher.

But how do people come up with these innovative solutions?

“Most creativity research is done on the final products of creativity—the finished work of art, or novel or technological invention,” says Gabora. “Yet when people talk about the ‘magic’ of creativity, by the time the final product exists, that ‘magic’ is over.”

The creative process has long been believed to involve searching memory and generating multiple independent ‘candidate’ ideas, followed by selection and refinement of the most promising. But Gabora suspects something else is happening during the creative process.

She proposes that the mental representation of an unborn idea may take different outward forms when looked at from different perspectives. What appears to be discrete, separate ideas can be described mathematically as different projections of the same underlying mental representation. As creative thought proceeds, this representation loses the potential to be viewed from different perspectives and manifest as different outcomes.

This theory, referred to as honing theory, grew out of the neuroscience of how memories are encoded and retrieved, and by studying mathematical models of concept combinations and interactions.

“We are constantly re-organizing our internal webs of knowledge and memory,” explains Gabora. “When we retrieve an item in a new context, it can generate emergent properties that are neither properties of the memory, nor of the context; they emerge as something totally new when the two combine.”

Gabora points to the invention of the kitchen island as an example.

“An island, we all agree, has the defining property of being surrounded by water,” she says. “However, we effortlessly accept that this is not a property of the compound concept kitchen island—because if your kitchen island is surrounded by water, you’re in trouble. But the property emerges when island appears in the concept kitchen.”

Gabora says to truly understand how the creative process works, one has to study the states of creative ideas midway through the creative process. She and four undergraduate researchers at UBCO recently conducted studies that did just that—publishing their results in Acta Psychologica.

Gabora and her team conducted two studies to test her theory. In the first, participants were interrupted midway through solving an analogy problem, writing down what they were thinking in terms of a solution. In the second, participants were instructed to create a painting that expressed their true essence and describe how they conceived of it.

For both studies, unbiased judges categorized responses as supportive of either the conventional or honing theory view.

To Gabora’s delight, the results were most consistent with honing theory, providing further evidence that her research is on the right track.

“This is exciting because having a deeper understanding of how the creative process works psychologically can greatly benefit society moving forward,” she says.

“If we can understand the mental progressions occurring during the creative process, we can better understand the steps involved in the generation of the world’s greatest masterpieces, and potentially pave the way to the next masterpieces,” she says.

Gabora adds that during times of rapid change such as a pandemic, understanding the creative process is more important than ever.

“A key step is appreciating how each person’s uniqueness gives them a potential to create in ways that are uniquely theirs. Whether it’s creating a new kind of robot, making a new delicious kind of sourdough bread or writing country music’s next big hit—our potential is endless.”

Take a minute to notice how you feel before, during and after your time on something like Facebook or Instagram. Does it pick you up or pull you down?

Along with being socially distant, should we ditch social media?

Even though much of Canada is loosening stay-at-home restrictions, people are realizing that social distancing and working from home is the new normal. And might be for some time.

For most, this means a continuation of personal contact only via social media, texting and video-meetings. But are we now suffering from too much screen time? Should we stay away from social media while we’re social distancing? Or participate in every new Facebook group or chatting app that’s created to help keep us connected?

Susan Holtzman is an associate professor of psychology at UBC Okanagan. Part of her research focuses on how our social environment can influence our physical and emotional well-being during times of stress.

These are stressful times, indeed. And for most, social media is the only point of contact with friends. Should we be limiting our electronic time?

I don’t think people should be too hard on themselves about the time they are spending on social media right now. There is very useful and important information being shared out there and it can be a helpful way to stay connected with friends and family. But there is a “but.” Social media affects people in different ways. For some, it leaves them feeling happier and more connected, but for others it can result in feelings of anxiety, emptiness and inadequacy.

I would suggest taking a minute to notice how you feel before, during and after your time on something like Facebook or Instagram. Does it pick you up or pull you down? If it pulls you down, maybe you need to cut down. Or, maybe you need to use it in a more active way, like sharing pictures, commenting on posts or as a tool to reconnect with old friends.

What’s the best thing about being connected through social media. And perhaps the worst?

There is no denying that this virus has brought a level of devastation to the human population that would have been unimaginable just a few months ago. Through it all, humans continue to have a basic need to feel connected to others and to feel like we belong. Social media has gifted us with the ability to see that we are not alone in our struggles. It has also provided us with access to stories that inspire and make us laugh.

There is a great deal of fear and anxiety in our society right now, and this is completely understandable. However, there is research to suggest that something called “emotional contagion” might be taking place when people are spending time on social media. Emotional contagion is the idea that we can “catch” emotions when we see them online and we can carry those emotions with us into our offline lives. This is another reason to be mindful about what type of social media we are consuming and how it might be affecting our well-being.

Any tips for parents on keeping the kids occupied and entertained?

Being a parent during the pandemic is hard. Really hard. There is no shortage of ideas out there on the internet for how to keep children entertained—from making doll clothes out of old socks, to scavenger hunts, to going on a virtual tour of a museum. There are websites that can transport you anywhere in the world, to Africa to watch gorillas in their habitat or to beaches in Hawaii. But the very presence of all of these ideas can be overwhelming.

Whatever you do, keep your goals simple and realistic. Get outside at least once a day (ideally, to do something physically active), sing or dance to your favourite music, cook or create something together as a family, call or video-chat with a friend or family member. Now is the time to be compassionate to ourselves and understand that we are all just doing the best we can.

What does your research tell us about social media?

Previous research in my lab has shown that digital communication, like texting, doesn’t give us the same boost in positive mood as in-person interactions during times of stress. I think our society is now feeling these effects first-hand. Online communication is the only option that many of us have to stay in touch with our friends and family right now, especially those who are elderly or medically at-risk—but it often doesn’t feel as satisfying as in-person communication.

Generally speaking, research suggests that technology that provides us with more visual and auditory cues, like video-chatting or voice calls, will help us to feel more connected, compared to things like texting or social media (which can absolutely still have benefits). It is safe to say that there is nothing “good” about a pandemic, but I suspect we will see some very innovative and creative new technologies emerge out of this period that will help us to stay connected when distancing measures are in place.

From a public health perspective, one issue that we have recently been investigating in my lab is how social media can be used to perpetuate false information. We remind people to check credible websites, like the BC Centre for Disease Control.

But we know that people aren’t going to stop sharing COVID-related information on social media. UNESCO has actually responded with a social campaign using #ThinkBeforeSharing, #ThinkBeforeClicking and #ShareKnowledge to encourage thoughtful sharing. And reminding us all to be kind during these unusual times.

Volunteers provide free, online, mental health first aid

All of BC’s frontline health care workers can now access online support services to help them cope with the psychological effects of managing the COVID-19 outbreak.

UBC’s Okanagan campus announced today—in a partnership with the BC Psychological Association (BCPA) and the Association of Nurses and Nurse Practitioners of BC (NNPBC)— that mental health help is now available for those on the front lines of COVID-19.

A new, and free, psychological support service went live this week with more than 160 registered psychologists volunteering their time to the initiative.

“There is emerging evidence that the psychological effects of COVID-19 are just as great as the physical effects, particularly for front-line health care workers,” says Lesley Lutes, a UBCO professor of psychology, registered psychologist and lead on the new initiative.

Lutes points to a recent study from China that demonstrated front-line workers were significantly more likely to suffer from the negative mental health effects of being at the epicentre of the outbreak. Data shows 52 per cent report symptoms of depression and anxiety while 70 per cent report clinical levels of distress and experiencing insomnia at three times the rate compared to other health care workers as a result of the outbreak.

“We’re always worried about the mental health of our front-line health care workers. But the data coming from China is incredibly alarming,” says Lutes. “This has, therefore, necessitated the need for immediate action to provide support to these critical workers.”

In response to this unprecedented need, Lutes is coordinating a new initiative that will deliver free online access to psychological services to any front-line health care worker.

“I compare our healthcare workers in BC to the firefighters and first responders during 9/11,” says Lutes. “And we need to remember that mental health never goes away. Even during a pandemic, it doesn’t stop.”

The BCPA is providing administrative support for this program, along with UBCO’s expertise and resources. And even before this initiative went live, Lutes says the College of Psychologists of BC also stepped up to contribute funding—and will monitor, promote and enhance compliance with the professional standards in the provision of these services to health care workers. However, she wants to emphasize that this initiative is only operating through the kindness of volunteer psychologists—more than 160 of them—who have stepped up to help at this time.

Lutes has already expanded the offering of this service to all essential workers.

“I see the distress, strain and worry in the eyes of the grocery store clerks, the pharmacy technician and the gas station attendant,” she adds. “We plan to expand services even further to the wider public in the coming weeks with additional resources.”

As the service expands, measures of help could include providing daily supportive automated text messages, online well-being resources, live psychoeducational groups and some virtual ‘walk-in’ clinic psychological services for those wanting additional support.

“These are unprecedented times,” says Lutes. “It calls for unprecedented compassion, support and help for each other. I am truly humbled by the people, groups and organizations who have stepped up to help us through this. We will get through this. Together.”

Visit the BCPA or NNPBC websites for more information about how to access the new services.

To read more about Lutes’ work at UBC Okanagan, visit:

100 Debates on the Environment brings policies to the forefront

When: Thursday, October 3, from 7 to 9 p.m.
What: 100 Debates on the Environment, Kelowna-Lake Country candidates
Who: Federal candidates in Kelowna-Lake Country riding
Where: Arts and Sciences building, room ASC 140, 3187 University Way, UBC Okanagan

Organized by UBC Okanagan’s Institute for Biodiversity, Resilience and Ecosystem Services, election hopefuls will be on campus for a question and answer session on Thursday, October 3.

Each candidate will have to answer four questions—the same being asked of candidates across Canada that day and provided by 100 Debates on the Environment. The 100 Debates project is a non-partisan initiative with the goal to bring climate change and environmental policy issues to the forefront of the election.

After the questions are answered, candidates can address some locally focused topics. There will be time for audience questions near the end. Moderated by former Global Okanagan news anchor Rick Webber, the event is politically neutral.

The event is free and open to the public, but pre-registration is required:

About UBC's Okanagan campus

UBC’s Okanagan campus is an innovative hub for research and learning in the heart of British Columbia’s stunning Okanagan Valley. Ranked among the top 20 public universities in the world, UBC is home to bold thinking and discoveries that make a difference. Established in 2005, the Okanagan campus combines a globally recognized UBC education with a tight-knit and entrepreneurial community that welcomes students and faculty from around the world.

To find out more, visit:

Gibsons’ CAO shares experience developing eco-assets strategy

What: Nature’s Role as Municipal Infrastructure
Who: Emanuel Machado, Chief Administrative Officer, Town of Gibsons, BC
When: Wednesday, September 18 starting at 4:30 p.m.
Where: The Engineering, Management and Education building, room EME 1202, 3333 University Way, UBC's Okanagan campus

Natural assets and the ecosystem services they provide are a fundamental part of local government infrastructure. When properly managed, natural assets such as forests, wetlands and green spaces have many advantages over engineered infrastructure—including being less expensive to operate and maintain.

The Town of Gibsons, BC, was the first North American municipality to manage natural resources using asset management, financial management and ecology principles that are systematically applied to managing engineered assets.

Gibsons’ Chief Administrative Officer Emanuel Machado will share his experience in developing the town’s eco-assets strategy at a special event on September 18 at UBCO. Machado has worked with communities across Canada, promoting a greater use of renewable energy, net-zero buildings, water strategies, social plans and sustainability frameworks, all with a focus on people.

This event, presented by UBC’s Okanagan Institute for Biodiversity, Resilience, and Ecosystem Services (BRAES), is free and open to the public. BRAES is a group of more than 30 researchers and graduate students working in ecology, biodiversity and conservation, and environmental sustainability on UBC’s Okanagan campus.

To learn more about BRAES, visit:

About UBC's Okanagan campus

UBC’s Okanagan campus is an innovative hub for research and learning in the heart of British Columbia’s stunning Okanagan Valley. Ranked among the top 20 public universities in the world, UBC is home to bold thinking and discoveries that make a difference. Established in 2005, the Okanagan campus combines a globally recognized UBC education with a tight-knit and entrepreneurial community that welcomes students and faculty from around the world.

To find out more, visit:

UBC hosts ecologist who explains the science behind pollinator conservation

What: What's the Buzz? Understanding the status of native bees and what you can do to help
Who: York University ecologist Sheila Colla
When: Tuesday, April 16 at 6 p.m.
Where: room ASC 130, Arts and Sciences Building, 3187 University Way, UBC Okanagan

As April showers bring May flowers, those flowers are going to need something to help with pollination. Enter the simple bee.

In Canada, bees make up the most important group of pollinators. However, the status of most wild bee populations in Canada is unknown. UBC Okanagan’s Institute for Biodiversity, Resilience, and Ecosystems Services is hosting York University ecologist Sheila Colla, who will talk about the conversation of bees.

Her research uses scientific principles to address conservation issues and focuses on the lesser understood native species such as bees, butterflies and flowering plants.

On April 16, Colla will host a public talk where she will discuss native bee diversity and the ecosystem services they provide. She will give an overview of their conservation status and describe how people can help declining species at both the policy and individual levels.

While in Kelowna, Colla will meet with UBCO Professor Nancy Holmes, who runs the Border Free Bees project and UBC Assistant Professor Adam Ford who runs UBCO’s Wildlife Restoration Ecology Lab. She will also take part in a biodiversity seminar series, present her research at a graduate student seminar, meet with students and faculty and explore Kelowna’s nectar trail and.

Colla’s talk is open to the public, but registration is required. To register, visit:

About UBC's Okanagan campus

UBC’s Okanagan campus is an innovative hub for research and learning in the heart of British Columbia’s stunning Okanagan Valley. Ranked among the top 20 public universities in the world, UBC is home to bold thinking and discoveries that make a difference. Established in 2005, the Okanagan campus combines a globally recognized UBC education with a tight-knit and entrepreneurial community that welcomes students and faculty from around the world.

To find out more, visit: