UBC NOW — 2016
September 6, 2016
IsoSiM: Fostering the Next Generation of Leaders in Science
Young scientists in IsoSiM all share one thing in common: each student has a story about working directly with others from a scientific field other than their own. In this interdisciplinary training program, physicists, chemists, oceanographers, radiologists, and pharmaceutical scientists regularly work together. While these disciplines may independently take different approaches, they all converge around isotopes, variations of chemical elements with special physical properties.
For students, this provides a rich training experience, not just developing them as interdisciplinary scientists, but also as science communicators who are poised to become the next generation of leaders in isotope-related fields.
Isotopes for Science and Medicine (IsoSiM) is an NSERC CREATE program developed by UBC and TRIUMF in response to the increasing importance of collaboration between different fields and the emerging opportunities to use isotopes to solve global issues. Focused on isotope production, preparation, and application, interdisciplinary education is truly at the heart of this unique program and is what sets it apart from other graduate and postdoctoral experiences.
“It’s not enough to be an expert in just your own field anymore,” said Dr. Reiner Kruecken, IsoSiM Program Director, TRIUMF Deputy Director, and UBC Professor of Physics. “It’s really important to expose the students with our program to the language of different fields.”
The program involves a variety of experiences — from coursework and research to summer schools and public outreach — providing trainees with opportunities to work with experts from a range of fields and equipping them with the tools needed to tackle complex challenges.
“Collaboration between different disciplines is increasingly important for doing high quality scientific research,” said UBC Physics PhD student Aris Chatzichristos. “It is important to learn how to communicate effectively with people from different backgrounds and I think IsoSiM offers a lot of opportunities to do so.”
Joining IsoSiM allows students to experience PHYS565: Applications of Radioisotopes in Science and Medicine, a UBC course that introduces them to a range of isotope-related topics. The course involves team research projects where students complete hands-on experiments at labs at TRIUMF or UBC in an area outside of their own field of research.
“At the bleeding-edge of science, the boundary between disciplines is inherently blurred,” said UBC Chemistry PhD student Ryan McFadden. “Having expertise in multiple complementary fields is essential for pushing the boundaries of our understanding.”
IsoSiM’s industry partners find great value in the interdisciplinary training as well. “What companies such as mine are looking for is students who are much more well rounded,” said Dale Tiessen, Regional General Manager of GE Healthcare, an IsoSiM partner. “[IsoSiM]’s intent is to set students up for success no matter where they go.”
The interdisciplinary nature of IsoSiM benefits many, from the students themselves to the greater scientific community and the public. Young scientists are being equipped with the tools they need not just to succeed professionally, but also to make scientific discoveries that can change the world. For more information about the program, please visit isosim.ubc.ca.
On June 30, 2016, Dr. Martha C. Piper will end her term as Interim President and Vice-Chancellor.
As she reaches the end of her second period of service in the President’s Office, we asked Dr. Piper about her time at UBC.
A toilet bowl, a piano, a chair
three pools of light, a Volkswagen Beetle
a table, a section of rope
a ladder, a fridge
a talking tree
the outline of moonlit leaves through a window
a bolt of red cloth stretching like a river
These are just a few of the hundreds of settings for plays produced in Brave New Play Rites over the years, an annual festival of short theatrical works by BFA and MFA students in the UBC Creative Writing Program. This year, Brave New celebrates its 30th anniversary, making it one of the longest-running new play festivals in western Canada.
When Professor Bryan Wade first landed in the Creative Writing Department in 1986, he had a simple idea: get playwriting students to write short plays as part of their course. Then, find a theatre space. Recruit a few directors and audition some actors. Take those plays off the page and onto the stage, and invite the public to attend. There is no better learning experience for an emerging playwright than to witness their own work in production in front of a live audience.
Thirty years and close to 500 produced plays later, Wade remains the heart and driving force behind the successful festival. Second and third productions of BNPR scripts have been staged in New York, Toronto and Scotland. Many of the festival’s alumni have gone on to become prominent members of Vancouver’s artistic community.
The BNPR Festival has found a home in some of Vancouver’s most cherished and iconic theatres such as The Vancouver Little Theatre on Main Street, Waterfront Theatre on Granville Island and Presentation House in North Vancouver. At UBC, the festival has been staged in the original Dorothy Somerset Studio, the ballroom at the Graduate Student Centre, the Asian Centre auditorium, Telus Studio Theatre at the Chan Centre, Frederic Wood Theatre and the new Dorothy Somerset Studio.
This year’s festival takes place at Studio 1398 on Granville Island, running from March 17 to March 20. Twelve new plays will be premiered in full productions; an additional eleven plays were featured as part of BNPR’s Staged Reading Series at Playwrights Theatre Centre on March 5th. Audiences will be treated to a range of voices and genres — comedies, dramas, one-person shows, as well as plays that challenge and break down the fourth wall. Two childhood friends reminisce as though in a film being edited — remember, cut, reset, repeat. In a futuristic society where technology for sharing sensory memories has run rampant, one lone person struggles to remain free. Stories of intimacy and solitude are told through a bus ride, where the audience is invited to come on board and on stage. A daughter struggles with childhood memories as she decides where to house her terminally ill mother. A woman runs into her old flame, Donald Trump. To discover more about these and other exciting new works by UBC student playwrights, visit bravenew.ca.