BIO-BULL

March 7, 2003
RESEARCH AND TEACHING FOREST UPDATE
In response to the UniverCity development at SFU, the Department of  Biological Sciences voted strongly in support of preservation of the research and teaching forest on the south slope of the campus. In May, 2000, the Working Forest Group, chaired by John Borden, submitted a proposal to the University and to the developers for the preservation of this  resource, along with a supporting petition signed by 202 members of the Department.  The forest issue was on the agenda at the February 11th meeting of the Community Advisory Committee (CAC). At this meeting, Michael Geller, president of the Burnaby Mountain Community Trust (BMCT) stated that the Official Community Plan for development of the south slope has been approved, but detailed planning will not begin for at least 2 years. Mr. Geller suggested that the biology department should work with the BMCT to formally define and survey the area in question.  It is important that the Department take action on this soon to show its continued interest and to take advantage of the surveying resources offered by the BMCT.  B Leighton

Bruce Leighton has been serving on the CAC for four years.  He was included on the committee through his involvement with the Stoney Creek Environment Committee (SCEC) and has been representing the Biology Department’s interests in an unofficial capacity.  The February meeting is the last meeting for his term and he will no longer be representing SCEC or, unofficially, the Biology Department in future.  As a result the Biology Department’s interests, primarily the research forest, will no longer have a voice.  If the Biology Department needs are to be considered in the future, the department should consider designating an official representative to meet with the BMCT.    L Dodd

 

MARLENE NGUYEN
THE MOST TRAVELLED PERSON IN THE DEPARTMENT!

How many of you realized that when you were seeking advice from our Department Graduate Programme Secretary about defending theses, transfer of courses, student travel awards, supervisory committee membership, etc., that this font-of-all-knowledge could also give you a first-hand account of any one of 110 countries?

As you may know, Marlene is German/Swedish and grew up mainly in Hamburg, Germany.  After getting married, she and her husband and young son embarked on a dream — to explore the world.  For the next six years they travelled worldwide and explored the marvels of different cultures and met hundreds of fascinating people.  Eventually, they settled in Vancouver.  In 1989 Marlene joined the Department as a 'temp' and three months later was appointed Secretary to the Director of the Master of Pest Management programme, who at that time was Dr. Manfred Mackauer.  The years rolled by and she became Secretary also to the Master of Aquaculture programme and later, Secretary to Dr. Punja, Centre for Environmental Biology.  Following the retirement of Sylvia Foran last fall, she became Secretary to our Departmental Graduate Programme.  Marlene is indispensable to Dr. Margo Moore, Chair of the DGSC and for graduate students, Marlene is the point of first contact with the department (when they apply) and also one of the last points of contact (when they defend).  Next time you talk with her you may wish to seek advice of a different kind — about your dream vacation; she has probably been there!   J Webster

 

CELL BIOLOGY AT SFU

In 1973, Dobzhansky wrote "Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution" (American Biology Teacher, Vol 35). While embraced by many biologists, this perspective has not been satisfying to cell biologists because our work has depended more on knowledge of chemistry than of evolution. Efforts to understand the molecular complexity of cells have driven the field to the point where we can conceive of explaining morphology, behavior and physiology in terms of the products of genes that can be manipulated. Cell biologists are now striving for the more complete understanding that only comes with knowing why a process has particular properties and not others. Whether or not we agree that "Nothing in evolution makes sense except in the light of cell biology" (Gerhart & Kirschner, 1997), it is clear that a healthy Cell Biology program is integral to a robust Biological Sciences Department, and vice versa.

Do we have a healthy Cell Biology program at SFU? Almost. A coalescing group of SFU researchers with interests in the workings of the cell hold a weekly journal club that is open to all (12:30 Fridays; ask LMQ to add your name to the email list). Presentations provide background and significance; research papers are distributed in advance and the discussions are often critical and lively. We are also working to co-ordinate and enrich our cross-departmental offerings of graduate courses in Cell Biology. In addition, a group of BISC faculty is working on revisions to the BISC Cell and Molecular Stream in order to provide a strong undergraduate program that is a reflection of our biological perspective. Finally, plans are underway for a Cell Biology Retreat, bringing together research groups from SFU, UBC and UVic.

Most of us are driven by a simple curiosity about how this fundamental unit of nature works. But opportunities in applied animal, plant and medical science all hinge upon understanding cells. To learn more about the Cell Biology Group at SFU, please visit our webpage: (http://quarmby.ca/cellbio/).

"The key to every biological problem must finally be sought in the cell" E.B. Wilson

L Quarmby

 


DELANEY LAB

Synaptic physiology is the primary subject of study in the Delaney Lab.  They investigate a broad range of neurobiological questions which link neural activity and changes in synaptic connection strength to learning, behaviour, sensory perception and brain disorders.  The organisms of study tend to be small and slimey.  L Dodd

KERRY DELANEY - Kerry was a very busy man when the time to interview came and so a look at his website was called for. Kerry started out in New West, ventured to UBC for his undergrad, went all the way to Princeton to meet his wife and get his PhD and then, for the love of the outdoors it seems, found himself back in BC and a professor at SFU.  He's been here for 11 years and judging from his biographical sketch on the Delaney Lab Website is quite the character.  I encourage you to read it if you're in need of a chuckle.

 

 

 

COLIN DEMILL -   Colin  has been here for a few years, having done his BSc  at SFU. He is the sole Vancouverite in the Delaney Lab doing a MSc on synaptic plasticity in the crayfish neuromuscular junction.  He likes hiking and photography and under interesting facts he claims to own Bob, a polydactyl (extra toed???) cat with a palindromic name.

 

JAMIE BOYD - Jamie grew up in Nova Scotia where he did his BSc at Dalhousie University.  He came to the west coast to do his PhD at UBC but switched alliance in '99 joining Kerry's lab doing post doc work on the functional organization of the olfactory bulb.  When asked about hobbies he wrote wife + kids = no hobbies and when asked for an interesting factoid wrote neologisms (like "factoid") bother him more than they should.  You heard the man, you know his weakness, now go out and annoy him!

ESAM QNAIS - Esam has been here for four years and is very close to finishing up his PhD on synaptic plasticity in the frog accessory olfactory bulb.  He comes to Canada from Jordan where he did his undergrad and masters work.  Rumour has it he plans to return to Jordan to become the Eppendorf pipette tip baron of the whole middle east.  No kidding!

 

 

IAN DAVISON - Ian is another maritimer, hailing from Antigonish NS.  He did his BSc at St. Francis Xavier University and is just now finishing up his PhD on dopamine modulates inhibition in the frog olfactory bulb.  Ian lists his hobbies as photography, basketball, running and playing the guitar (call to mind his memorable accompaniment of the tech's Christmas song).  He says he's been here too long and Kerry tends to agree (did he say that out loud?) but he will definitely be missed by his lab mates.

 

VAHID SHAHREZAEI - Vahid came from Tehran, Iran after completing his undergrad and a MSc in physics at Sharif University.  He started out at SFU doing a PhD in physics but not long after starting, Kerry lured him into the biology department.  He is currently modelling the role of Ca dynamics in synaptic transmission.   There is a big Iranian community in Vancouver and he is currently the president of the Iranian Club at SFU.

 

 

DEPARTMENT SYMPOSIUM Febrauy 7th

The department symposium of February 7th was a great success and a splendid time was had by all. Kudos to organizers Jeff Ball, Amanda Niehaus, Dana Seaman, Sandra Webster, Michelle Morrow and Deepa Pureswaran, and especially Joline King who organized the beverages. "It was a great chance to meet other grad students, learn about what other labs are doing, and have a good time," said grad student Brian Ma. The event was sponsored by the department, the Dean of Grad Studies and the Dean of Science, the SFSS and the biology grad caucus. The door prizes were donated by Grouse Mountain, the SFU bookstore, the 2003 Sea Duck Conference, and the Highland Pub.   J Perry

BIOLOGY GRADS, BEAUTIFUL BAMFIELD AND PLENTY OF BEER!

What a perfect combination for a weekend of fun among biology graduate students from the Pacific Northwest.  This year's Pacific Ecology Conference was a huge success, even though 5 of the 6 kegs of beer ran out after the first evening of fun..... This small glitch failed to put even a small damper on the amount of fun, dancing and mingling that took place among PEC participants.  Between enjoying Brady's beach, and mingling with the locals at a firehall Valentine's Dance, SFU students presented top quality oral and poster presentations covering a wide scope of ecological research.  Everyone I've spoken with fully agrees that this years PEC success is a direct result of the superstar organizers, fellow SFU grads Rutger Vos (Mooers lab) and Patrik Nosil (Crespi lab).  Thanks so much Pat and Rutger, you guys did a great job.  We look forward to all the free beers you guys will be handing out at this summer’s beer gardens, since that is really where the extra Lady Rose $$ went, right?  J King

 

UP-COMING DEFENCES:

*Ryan V. Galbraith (M.Sc. Defense – Dr. Farrell) March 24th 11:30am in B9242

             Suspended sediment effects on fertilization success in Pacific salmon (Oncorhynchus nerka).

 

*Robin Whittington (M.Sc. Defense – Dr. Winston) March 31st 10am in B9242

Factors potentially limiting colony growth, foraging effort, and pollination efficiency of bumble bees in commercial tomato greenhouses.

 

Bio-Bull can be found on the biology home page - www.sfu.ca/biology/biobull/