Student Innovation in the Open

Student Innovation in the Open
Panel Discussion with Chris Brady, Eugenia Kwok, Victor Ngo and Katie Mills

Date & Time: Tuesday, October 28, 11am – 11:50am

Location: Lillooet Room, 3rd Floor, Irving K. Barber Learning Centre


This session brings student innovation into the open, as UBC students from a variety of disciplines present their research in a panel discussion.

Chris Brady’s Abstract:
As the humanities look for new audiences and new ways to communicate ideas, Chris Brady’s podcast, Prometheus Unbound, provides a creative outlet for students and instructors who wish to craft aesthetically pleasing and intellectually rigorous content as well as providing students with alternative means of learning a subject besides the standard lecture format. Podcasts allow instructors to experiment with new pedagogical approaches and expose learners to different ways of engaging in subject matter.

Chris Brady’s podcast takes the Roman poet Lucan’s (1st c. CE) epic Pharsalia as the jumping off point for all sorts of investigations into literary, political, and cultural issues that engage modern classicists and tries to explain these issues in an easily digestible way. One of the primary topics Chris wanted to focus on in the beginning episodes was the concept of spectacle, not just by defining it but by showing the ways in which spectacle influenced political decisions and changed artistic expression in imperial Rome.

Each episode (of which there are two and several more planned) takes a familiar concept from the modern world, like action movies from the 1980s, Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, or Canadian PSAs, and deconstructs it without academic jargon. The show follows a theme from familiar content to the unfamiliar classical world and equips the listener with an intellectual framework for understanding issues in the classical world with a sort of modern mnemonic. The episodes are not organized in a hierarchical way. The information from one episode overlaps with that of another to give listeners the ability to make connections between different concepts depending on their engagement and interest in any particular topic.
Ultimately, the aim of the project was to create a medium for people to engage with concepts in classical scholarship by bringing their own experiences from different disciplines and cultural backgrounds. Through this interplay of the modern and the ancient, we can find new ways in which the classical world informs our understanding of modern cultural phenomena, but also ways in which the modern world can help us better articulate classical concepts.

Eugenia Kwok’s Abstract:

Public openness in laboratory research: a survey study
Y. K. Eugenia Kwok, Elisabeth Ormandy and Dan Weary (UBC Animal Welfare Program)

The objectives of this study were to model a system that makes animal protocols available for public comment, and identify key factors that affect public acceptance of animal research. Participants (n=247) completed an online survey where five different research scenarios were presented: a) Parkinson’s Disease with chimpanzees, b) organ transplant research with pigs, c) smoking research with mice, d) cancer research with zebrafish, and e) chronic pain research with mice. Participants were asked “Are you willing to support this use of animals in research?” They could choose “yes,” “neutral,” or “no.” Participants were also asked to provide a reason for their choice. Willingness to support the proposed use of animals varied with scenario. The proposal to use mice for smoking research received the lowest level of support (26% of participants voted “yes”). Reasons provided for not supporting this research were framed around a belief that science is well informed on the negative effects of smoking, and that the research is therefore unnecessary. This study illustrates one way in which research protocols could be open to public scrutiny and comment, providing institutions a better sense of how their practices meet public expectations, and which practices are the most contentious.

Katie Mills’ Abstract:

Conservation of endangered species, including the Stephens’ Kangaroo rat (SKR), is an important concern due to habitat loss through urbanization and agricultural expansion. Translocation is a key conservation strategy to combat species loss, yet translocation survival rates are very low; likely due to stressors involved (e.g. capture, handling, captivity). Grooming behaviours are displayed for many reasons one of which is stress, thus determining the functionality of grooming behaviours in SKR can aid translocation efforts through improved monitoring of stress behaviours. This project attempts to understand the functionality of grooming behaviours in response to two social contexts; it is a continuation of research completed by Dr. Liv Baker, in which sixty SKR individuals from two source populations were translocated. All individuals were exposed to two treatments: 1) a predator stimulus (fox-urine coated rock) and 2) a conspecific stimulus (mirror). Each trial was ten minutes long consisting of 2 five minute periods; the acclimation period where the individual was placed in the enclosure and the active period when the stimulus was revealed. Treatments were filmed and the footage then used to record frequency and duration of grooming behaviours exhibited by individuals. Preliminary results suggest that there is an increase in grooming behaviours that appear to be out of place in situations of high stress for the animal. This research is important to translocation efforts because it can help better observe and predict the functionality of grooming behaviours as indicators of stress, thus improving translocation survival rates.

The above research was completed as a part of Applied Biology 398: Research Methods in Applied Animal Biology. With this presentation Katelyn had the opportunity to present at MURC 2014 and placed 1st in Oral Presentation. This allowed her to travel to Shanghai Jiao Tong University, China during July 2014 to present the same research at the Undergraduate Research Conference 2014.

Victor Ngo’s Abstract:

Open access scholarship can play an important role in enhancing university-community partnerships, particularly in the field of community planning. Planning students are often engaged in projects of reciprocal learning and development in local, regional, and international communities. Open access and the dissemination of collaborative research can serve as a rich asset for communities. This presentation will cover three mini-case studies where research at the UBC School of Community and Regional Planning (SCARP) and open access are playing a role in university-community partnerships: UBC’s University Neighbourhoods Association, Vancouver’s False Creek South, and the Bulacan Province, Philippines.

Lisa Tweten’s Abstract

Graduate students in the Classics, Near Eastern and Religious Studies Department at the University of British Columbia have begun to digitize the department’s epigraphic squeeze collection. Very briefly, a “squeeze” is a copy of an inscription made using damp filter paper that is pounded over the inscription, allowed to dry and peeled off; the result is a perfect – if backwards – copy of the inscription that allows for future study apart from the physical inscription. Our collection had previously been kept in a locked storage room, accessible to few, unused and unknown to the majority of the department. Malcolm McGregor, once the head of the Classics department at UBC, co-authored the definitive volumes on the Athenian Tribute List based on his epigraphic collection of the stone fragments of said list.

Similar digitization projects have been undertaken by other institutions; what sets our project apart is the quality of our images. Where other projects use a flatbed scanner, we have partnered with the UBC Library’s Digital Initiatives team to create high-resolution photographs. By using raking light to highlight the raised inscription of the squeeze, we are able to provide an extremely detailed image that allows minute study of letter formation which is a key feature in dating inscriptions, and the text is now easier to read than on the squeeze itself. Moreover, once the squeeze has been digitized, it can be flipped and read from left to right, which means epigraphists no longer have to read ancient Greek backwards. Our aim in digitizing the collection is to revitalize epigraphic study at UBC and allow scholars from around the world access to documents which would otherwise sit unused in storage.

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