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September 2013

E-Readers and other tech ‘toys’ enhance children’s literacy

Feed Your Head Philippe Put
Digital devices offer more than just gaming opportunities. Research by Dr. James Nahachewsky, associate professor in UVic’s Faculty of Education, shows that digital devices such as tablets and e-Readers can actually enhance children’s literacy. As 21st century learners, the advent of e-books has created an opportunity for students to access reading materials in a format with which they are very familiar, comfortable and able to personalize. While Nahachewsky does note that such devices can distract from the type of in-depth reading that printed text provides, they allow for a high degree of instant social interaction on what is currently being read. According to Nahachewsky’s research, digital devices contribute to making children’s reading experiences interactive, and this could have implications for the future of curriculum development. Learn more.

With funding support from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council.

Re-inventing the sticky note for Alzheimer's patients

Sticky Notes
A post-doctoral student at UVic has been awarded $50,000 to develop a series of apps helping those with memory problems related to Alzheimer's - work that will help these patients do everything from daily errands to independent travel. One of two national Cognition  Challenge Awards went to Celina Berg for her plan to design apps that address the unmet needs of people with cognitive challenges. The app, developed in collaboration with UVic's CanAssist research centre and Dr. Yvonne Coady, builds on existing technology to improve the functionality of sticky notes, enabling notifications and data to be available to the client and caregiver. Berg has been invited to bring her work to the Canadian Technology Accelerator in San Francisco for six months, working towards eventual commercialization of this app. Learn more. 

With funding support from the Consulate General of Canada and Johnson & Johnson Innovation.

Shedding a light on Canadian johns

Tree Branch Silhouettes
The men who pay for sex aren't always what you'd expect - at least according to UVic researcher Chris Atchison, who recently kicked off a national study interviewing more than 1,000 sex buyers across the country to get a better sense of who they are, what their motivations are and how safe the service exchange is from their point view. The new study builds on earlier work of Atchison's that examined the diversity of buyers and started to identify patterns of how space influenced sexual, physical and economical safety in this industry. Atchison's new study is being carried out as part of a larger project on sex work in Canada led by UVic's Dr. Cecilia  Benoit. Learn more.

Funding support from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.

Research report timed to new alcohol laws

Alcohol Glasses
New alcohol legislation in BC will benefit from UVic’s research. Dr. Tim Stockwell and Kara Thompson at UVic’s Centre for Addictions Research released a report titled ‘Reducing Alcohol-Related Harms and Costs in BC,’ a comparative study between BC’s alcohol policies and those of other provinces in Canada. Stockwell and Thompson provide facts and figures on alcohol consumption in BC, including the impact of drinking and driving legislation in BC on motor vehicle deaths, and the correlation between alcohol pricing and public health. The report was released early August, in timely anticipation of the BC government call for public input into alcohol legislation reform. Learn more.

With funding support from the BC Ministry of Health and Provincial Health Services Authority.

Earth to run away from the sun

Sun Emits a Solstice CME
Earth will be able to retain its capacity to support life only if it runs away from the sun. New research by Dr. Colin Goldblatt and his team in UVic’s School of Earth and Ocean Sciences shows that Earth is susceptible to the runaway greenhouse effect. This means that Earth receives enough heat energy from the sun to evaporate the oceans and make the planet uninhabitable. There is a bright side: Goldblatt says, “it would need 10 times more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to trigger this than burning all of Earth’s fossil fuels,” and this will not impact Earth for half a billion years. Goldblatt, who has worked for NASA, is thinking ahead. It is possible for Earth to relocate in space farther from the sun before the runaway greenhouse effect takes place. “It’s just an engineering problem,” he says. Learn more.

Funding support from National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Planetary Atmospheres, NASA Astrobiology Institute Virtual Planetary Laboratory, and Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council Discovery Grant.


Movember grant: beyond the test tube

Cancer Drug
Stronger drug treatments for prostate cancer will be in the making in two years. UVic’s Dr. Fraser Hof, Canada Research Chair in Supramolecular and Medicinal Chemistry, was awarded a Movember Discovery Grant to support his research. With the two–year term grant, Hof expects to go beyond the test-tube in order to gain a complete understanding of how Chromobox 7 (CBX7) inhibitors can be applied to treat cancer. Hof hopes that his research will lead to new drug treatments that will be effective against the most aggressive forms of prostate cancer. Learn more.

Funding support from Prostate Cancer Canada Movember Discovery Grant, Canada Research Chairs program, Canada Foundation for Innovation, BC Knowledge Development Fund, Genome British Columbia, Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research, and Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council.

Seaweed biofuel the wave of the future

BC Seaweed
What better symbol of BC’s coastal culture and commitment to sustainability is there than seaweed? Recent UVic graduate Aaron Philippsen completed his Master’s thesis on the potential of seaweed as an economically feasible bioenergy. Seaweed as an energy alternative produces low levels of greenhouse gas emissions in sufficient quantities to be the next wave of alternative energy sources. Philippsen advocates proper consultation with First Peoples, environmentalists, and general public stakeholders to make seaweed energy a BC industry. Learn more.
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