Prince George, BC - Why does the mountain pine beetle destroy pine trees? Why don’t they eat oak trees or cedar trees? Why are honey bees dying at unprecedented rates? These thought provoking questions have led to research findings pertinent to northern BC. Find out about this research at the upcoming Year of Science Expo at the Civic Centre in Prince George.
As part of its community engagement initiative “Bringing Genomics Home,” Genome BC is pleased to feature two local scientists at this two-day event which will explore science and the world around us. Dr. Dezene Huber will be discussing “Beetle Genes” on April 11th at 11:15 am. Dr. Leonard Foster will be speaking about “Genomics and the Plight of the Honeybee” on April 12th at 11:45 am. This event will also feature hands-on, experiential learning opportunities and demonstrations like DNA extraction using kiwi fruit.
Dr. Dezene Huber is an associate professor at the University of Northern British Columbia (UNBC). He and his colleagues study insect behavior and the interactions of insects with the plants they eat. “Our research looks at the way that insects interact with their environment and with the plants that they eat,” says Dr. Huber. One way to understand why insects do what they do is to look at the genes that are turned on and off in their bodies at different times of the year. Dr. Huber and his team are studying these differences to understand the changes that bark beetles go through during the cold of winter.
Dr. Leonard Foster, who hails from McBride, BC, is the Canada Research Chair in Quantitative Proteomics and an associate professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of British Columbia. He is excited to be returning to northern BC to share his research findings, which are focused on determining why honeybees are dying and how we can help strengthen their natural mechanisms to fight off diseases.
“Honeybees not only provide us with honey and wax but they also help grow food sources by pollinating many vegetable, nut, and fruit crops,” explains Dr. Foster. For the past five years North American beekeepers have lost approximately one-third of their bees every year, largely due to to infectious diseases. While some diseases can be controlled through the use of chemical pesticides, many of the bacteria, viruses, fungi and mites responsible are mutating and finding ways to resist these pesticides.
“We are honoured to participate in this local initiative to promote the tremendous scientific discoveries that impact northern British Columbia and foster a greater understanding of local challenges and solutions”, says Dr. Alan Winter, President and CEO of Genome BC.
The free expo, which runs April 11-12 at the Prince George Civic Centre, is open to the public, and features expert presenters, workshops and displays on topics ranging from forestry, cooking and wine, fisheries, green technology, biofuels and mining.
About Genome British Columbia:
Genome British Columbia is a catalyst for the life sciences cluster on Canada’s West Coast, and manages a cumulative portfolio of over $450M in technology platforms and research projects. Working with governments, academia and industry across sectors such as forestry, fisheries, agriculture, environment, bioenergy, mining and human health, the goal of the organization is to generate social and economic benefits for British Columbia and Canada.
In addition to research, Genome BC is committed to openness, meaningful dialogue, public outreach, and educational leadership, and as such, seeks to foster understanding and appreciation of the significance of genomics and proteomics science and technology among teachers, students, and the general public. www.genomebc.ca
About Let’s Talk Science:
Let’s Talk Science (LTS) is a national organization present at all major Canadian universities and colleges. The mandate of the LTS program is to improve science, technology, engineering, and math literacy through innovative and engaging outreach efforts. Through community events, partnership programs that pair educators with graduate student volunteers, and outreach programs for students in the inner city as well as aboriginal youth, the BC LTS program touches more than 15,000 youths from kindergarten to grade 12 each year across BC and the Yukon. www.ubclts.com
About the Year of Science:
Last fall, the government of B.C. proclaimed the 2010-11 school year the Year of Science. Its primary goal is to engage British Columbians in science, in particular young people, by showcasing how science works, who scientists are, the kind of work they do, and why science matters in our everyday lives and the communities we live in. Learn more at www.yearofsciencebc.ca.
For more information contact:
Communications Specialist, Genome BC