Top Ten

June 12, 2015

uCalgary opens dementia research centre

Researchers at the University of Calgary studying dementia, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, and Parkinson’s disease moved into a new, state-of-the-art facility on Wednesday. The 12,000-square-foot space, made possible by a $6 M donation to the Hotchkiss Brain Institute from the Ronald and Irene Ward Foundation, will be located adjacent to the Foothills Medical Centre. “Many people can have more than one of these diseases at the same time. So by putting people with specialties in these different areas together we can collaborate and understand and share information and potentially make a lot more progress,” said Eric Smith, a professor in uCalgary’s Department of Clinical Neurosciences. uCalgary News | CBC

Sexual assault resistance program lowers risk of rape by 50%, study says

A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine has concluded that participation in a sexual assault resistance program lowered the risk of rape for female first-year university students by nearly 50%. The randomized controlled trial, conducted with participants from the University of Calgary, the University of Guelph, and the University of Windsor, concluded that the risk of rape for the 451 women randomly assigned to receive the program was about 5%; for the 442 women in the control group, who received only brochures and a brief information session, the risk was 10%. “Only 22 women would need to take the program in order to prevent one additional rape from occurring within one year,” the authors concluded. However, lead author Charlene Y Senn of uWindsor added that “the long-term solution is to reduce [women's] need to defend themselves.” Globe and Mail | New York Times | Guelph Mercury | Full Study

UBC receives donation to research therapeutic effects of cannabis

UBC this week received a donation of $1 M from medical marijuana producer National Green Biomed to research the therapeutic effects of cannabis. The gift will support research being conducted by M-J Milloy, a professor of medicine at UBC. His work examines marijuana’s potential to treat HIV and to alleviate the pain and nausea associated with acute illnesses and medications used to fight HIV and AIDS. Milloy recently published a study that found that HIV-positive people who used marijuana regularly had less than half the concentration of HIV in their bloodstream as individuals who rarely or never used marijuana. The donation was made as part of UBC’s start an evolution campaign. UBC News Release | Vancouver Sun

BVC fundraising campaign to help women overcome barriers to learning

Bow Valley College on Wednesday officially launched the 1,000 Women Rising Campaign, an initiative that aims to marshal 1,000 women to raise $1 M to help female students overcome barriers to learning. The campaign will focus on four areas: return to learning, to support students who withdrew from their studies and want to return; child care bursaries, to help students in need cover child care expenses; financial aid, to provide financial and academic assistance for at-risk learners; and learning technology, to help learners acquire computers for classroom use. The campaign was kicked off with a $100,000 matching gift from Sheila O’Brien and Kevin Peterson. BVC News Release | Calgary Herald

Scientists, academics sign statement opposing oil sands development

Over 100 scientists and academics from across North America have signed a statement calling for a moratorium on oil sands development. The statement gives ten reasons for the moratorium, including environmental damage, violations of First Nations treaties, and inadequate monitoring and enforcement. “If Canada wants to participate constructively in the global effort to stop climate change, we should first stop expanding the oil sands,” said Thomas Homer-Dixon of the University of Waterloo. The signatories include a Nobel Prize laureate, a dozen fellows of the Royal Society of Canada, and 22 members of the US National Academy. Globe and Mail | Financial Post |

NB Student Alliance warns of implications of maintaining PSE funding freeze

The New Brunswick Student Alliance (NBSA) has raised concerns about reported deficits at the province’s universities, saying that unless the government steps in to increase funding, students will opt to not attend university or to pursue their education elsewhere. NBSA Executive Director Lindsay Handren noted that NB ranks eighth among Canadian provinces in public funding for universities; moreover, NB institutions must contend with frozen tuition fees and operating grants. University of New Brunswick President Eddy Campbell said that his institution will pursue increased revenues through student recruitment and retention, but Annie Sherry, Chair of NBSA, said that having students pick up the rising costs is not a sustainable solution. CTV News

Community care for the elderly, home health care among Canada’s fastest growing industries

Employment website has released a list of what it says are Canada’s fastest-growing industries and occupations. According to CareerBuilder, Canada is projected to create close to 500,000 jobs by 2020. Growth will be especially pronounced in areas including community care facilities for the elderly, home health care services, child daycare services, computer systems design and related services, and oil and gas extraction. Each of these industries is projected to experience growth of 10% or more between 2015 and 2020. Individual occupations that are projected to see significant rates of growth in these industries include food counter attendants, kitchen helpers, and related occupations; cooks; software engineers and designers; and managers in social, community, and correctional services. CareerBuilder News Release

Academic publishing has reached oligopoly status, uMontreal study concludes

A new study led by Vincent Larivière of the University of Montreal concludes that consolidation of academic publishers has led to an oligopoly. In 1973, the top five publishers published 20% of all academic papers; by 2006, this figure had risen to 50%. The social sciences have the highest level of consolidation, with 70% of papers published by the top five publishers; in the humanities, the figure is 20%. Noting that large commercial publishers have profit margins of nearly 40%, Larivière said that “it is questionable whether [publishers] are still necessary in today’s digital era.” Inside Higher Ed | Full Study

Nobel Laureate resigns from honorary post following sexist comments

Tim Hunt, a joint recipient of the 2001 Nobel Prize for physiology or medicine, has stepped down from his honorary post at University College London after saying that mixed-gender labs were “disruptive.” Hunt said that he favoured “single-sex labs” and that he had “trouble with girls” working in laboratories because “you fall in love with them, they fall in love with you, and when you criticize them, they cry.” He later apologized, claiming that he was trying to be funny; nevertheless, he said during his apology that “I did mean the part about having trouble with girls.” Hunt’s statement prompted a significant backlash, including the Twitter hashtag #distractinglysexy, used by women scientists to sarcastically critique his comment. Toronto Star | CBC | Times Higher Education

Drones help detect cheaters on Chinese college entrance exam

China is using drones to combat cheating on its college entrance exam. The drones scan for signals that might be sent to devices sneaked into the exam by students. “A drone has its advantages. In an urban area full of tall buildings, various barriers limit the operating range of devices on the ground, while the drone can rise up to 500 metres and detect signals over the whole city,” said Lan Zhigang, from Luoyang’s Radio Supervision and Regulation Bureau. Cheating is reportedly very common on the exam, which can last for two or three days and is written by almost all Chinese high school students. CBC | Toronto Star