May 2015

Photo credit: Vijay SRV via Flickr


What can genomics do for Canada’s forestry sector?

By studying the DNA of trees, pests and other organisms, forest genomics can enable the growth of healthy, productive and sustainable forests. So how could it be used in Canada? Find out in a short video on

This Canadian Forests Service project was a collaboration between GREAT Program Manager, Andrea Lloyd; former Commercialization Analyst Intern Fraser Larock; TAIGA project leader Richard Hamelin; and GREAT Knowledge Network member Ben Paylor’s animation firm InfoShots.

Partner Project News

Watershed Metagenomics Project Hosts Stakeholder Workshop

On May 21, the Applied Metagenomics of the Watershed Microbiome project hosted a workshop for its stakeholders, and members of the scientific and watershed management community who were interested in the learning about the project, and the progress they have made towards designing new ways to detect fecal pollution in water. For more information, visit

Genomic Tools in the News

Drs. Judy Isaac-Renton, Patrick Tang and Natalie Prystajecky of the Watershed Metagenomics project were recently interviewed for a Vancouver Sun article about the use of microbes in the mining industry, highlighting the research undertaken by the project as “creating detection and analysis tools that can be used to assess water quality and detect and trace pollution by building a database of metagenomic fingerprints from healthy and polluted watersheds.” Read the full article at the Vancouver Sun.

Watershed Publishes New Paper

Members of the Watershed Metagenomics project have published a paper, “Automated gel size selection to improve the quality of next-generation sequencing libraries prepared from environmental water samples.” This manuscript describes an automated gel size selection approach for purifying DNA fragments for next-generation sequencing. The Ranger Technology provides complete automation of the entire process of agarose gel loading, electrophoretic analysis, and recovery of targeted DNA fragments allowing for high-throughput and high quality next-generation sequencing libraries. Read all about it in the Journal of Visualized Experiments.

Genomics of Sunflower Publishes Two Papers

Members of the Genomics of Sunflower project have published two articles recently. In “Comparative genomics in the Asteraceae reveals little evidence for parallel evolutionary change in invasive taxa”, the researchers examined evidence for evolutionary genomic changes associated with invasion in introduced species. Read the findings of this study at Molecular Ecology.

In the second paper, lead author Gregory Baute and his colleagues explored how selection and hybridization of modern crops, and their interactions, have molded the genome of the cultivated sunflower, a globally-important oilseed. Read more about this paper “Genome scans reveal candidate domestication and improvement genes in cultivated sunflower, as well as post-domestication introgression with wild relatives” in New Phytologist.

Bee IPM Scientific Director Participates in TEDx

Bee IPM Scientific Director, Dr. Marta Guarna, was invited to be one of the 2015 TEDxStanleyPark presenters! Marta’s talk, “What’s the buzz about bees?,” had the audience of 450 people buzzing on the live feed during the session:

  • “Bees are everyone’s buzziness!”
  • “Wow! Great talk! Thanks for giving bees a voice”
  • “Thank you for being a voice of science. We need more opportunities to translate science to the community”.

Dr. Sally Aitken, Climate Avenger

AdapTree project leader, Dr. Sally Aitken, has been featured in the May issue of More magazine, as one of the “15 extraordinary women of grit, heart and hope” whose job is to save the world. Visit the More website for details.

AdapTree Projects Seeking Population Genomics Postdoc

The AdapTree project is looking for a postdoctoral fellow to join the research team at the University of British Columbia (UBC). The project is assessing the genomics of local adaptation and climate-related traits with large sequence capture and SNP datasets for hundreds of populations of two widespread conifers. The project is looking for help with the exciting task of sifting through millions of SNPs to find interesting patterns. For more information on the position and how to apply, click here.

Genomics News

Western Economic Diversification Canada Makes Investment in Genome BC

The Honourable Michelle Rempel, Minister of State for Western Economic Diversification, and representatives of Genome BC announced that Western Economic Diversification Canada (WD) is contributing $715,000 to Genome BC. This investment will allow Genome BC to aid its industry partners and others to address the gaps in the innovation pipeline between companies, existing science and technology strengths and industrial research and development activities. This funding will spur development of new genomics-based products, processes and services, thereby improving industrial competitiveness and productivity. Read the news release at the Genome BC website.

Entrepreneurship News

Video: e@UBC’s Lean Launch Pad Accelerator Program

GREAT video intern Danie Easton has produced this short video of e@UBC’s Lean Launch Pad Accelerator Program, featuring interviews with Lignin team members James Round and Raphael Roccor. Watch the film below or on Vimeo.

Intern Updates

Please join us in welcoming our newest interns for the summer of 2015.

Ann WilbyAnn Wilby, Apicultural Specialist Intern

Ann is currently studying sustainable agriculture in the Bachelor of Science in Global Resource Systems at UBC. She has a passion for exploring food systems and discovering new ways to feed our communities. In addition to working on local farms in Grand Forks, her home town, she has experience urban farming in Vancouver and volunteering on various farms in India, Ireland and Portugal. Regardless of the country, the honeybee has a vital role to play. Ann is excited to work with Liz Huxter as an intern for Bee IPM project to learn more about the challenges facing the honeybee and researching solutions to ensure the honeybee’s health and survival.

This project is a collaboration with Jeff Pettis, United States Department of Agriculture, and is an expansion of the successful project last summer with project scientists (in US and Western Canada), Liz Huxter of Kettle Valley Queens, and GREAT intern Jamie Lee Martin.

Nicolas DimopoulosNicolas Dimopoulos, Research Assistant Intern

Nicolas is a research assistant intern and Masters student in Dr. Simone Castellarin’s lab at the UBC Wine Research Centre. He is involved in a genomics project exploring the differential expression of metabolites in grape berries of different sizes. The project is proving to be very interesting due to its potential impact on practices in the wine industry. He is excited to present results of the project and to consult with the industry at the upcoming BC Wine and Grape Council 16th Annual Enology & Viticulture Conference.

Previously, he finished his Bachelor’s in microbiology at the University of Victoria. Outside of the lab, he loves cooking, swing dancing, and rock climbing.

Adriana Suarez-Gonzalez, Research Assistant Intern

adrianaAdriana is a research scientist passionate about genomics and its applications in health and forestry. She completed her Honours Bachelor of Science in Colombia, and received a Master of Science, Technology and Public Policy from the University of Winnipeg. After surviving three winters in Manitoba, she came to UBC and is currently a PhD candidate in Botany.

This summer, with the support of the GREAT program, she will be joining GenXys, a startup working in pharmacogenomics and personalized medicine.

For more information on our Internship Program, please visit the Internships page or contact us.

Recent Events

Policy Entrepreneurship Program

Over the past two months, the GREAT team has been hosting the Policy Entrepreneurship Program, which consists of both speakers and workshops. We wrapped up this program with our final speaker, Sarah Stachowiak from ORS Impact, discussing Measuring Change, and our final workshop, Build Your Strategy.

We have captured the course content using video and sketchnotes so, if you missed these sessions, we are excited to announce that all of this content will be online soon as a full course package. Please stay tuned.

Upcoming Events

Here are some events we think you may be interested in:

Visit our events calendar to see all upcoming events and workshops.

Newsletter Subscriptions

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genomics.entrepreneurship@UBC is in partnership with Genome BC and Genome Canada.

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