Dr. Archibald winner of the 2020 Great Trekker Award

Congratulations to Dr Jo-ann Archibald on winning the 2020 AMS Great Trekker Award!

Dr Archibald is a distinguished academic, educator and author from the Stó:lō and Xaxli’p First Nations. She graduated at the UBC Faculty of Education in 1975 and got a Master’s and PhD at SFU afterwards.

During her career, she made an incredible impact in the field of indigenous education through curriculum development, policy, teaching and research. She has won numerous awards including being appointed as an officer to the Order of Canada in 2018.

She is the author of the book Indigenous Storywork: Educating the Heart, Mind, Body, and Spirit.

The Great Trekker Award is presented each year to an alumnus or alumnae who have made unique contributions to the UBC and wider community. It was first established in 1950 to commemorate the Great Trek of October 28, 1922, when UBC students marched to pressure the government to complete work on the university’s buildings.

More about Dr. Archibald coming soon!

Adam Sandler noticed UBC Improv on social media

The guys from UBC Improv had a go at the monologue ‘This is how I win’ from Sandler’s latest film Uncut Gems. Check it out here:

They posted it on Twitter and it looks like Adam Sandler himself saw it and retweeted it. He said they were all really good actors and he even added the video to his Instagram stories.


Way to go, UBC improv!

Understanding the needs of students with disabilities

Meet Sara Izadi-Najafabadi a PhD Candidate at BC Children’s Hospital where she focused on brain changes after rehabilitation in children with developmental coordination disorder and the effects of brain stimulation on their motor behaviour. Last year Sara received an AMS Impact Grant and used it to propel her research.

Sara came to Canada to complete her studies and joined the Graduate Student Society where she served as a VP Academic.  She has a background in rehabilitation and is committed to help students with disabilities.


“When I joined graduate student society (GSS), I realized there was not enough support for students with disabilities. Particularly, I found out there was not a comprehensive understanding from the students’ perspective. There was also a difference between the needs of graduates and undergraduates.

So, I started my research about disability at UBC focusing on students that are in research-based graduate programs. I work closely with Dr. Tal Jarus to identify UBC accessibility issues from the students’ point of view.

Thus far in my research, I have identified a few issues that students with disability encounter on a daily basis. For example, international students with disabilities are not eligible for government support. This involves a financial burden for them too because there is minimum funding for disability programs and disable students have extra costs.

Also, the leave of absence policy is a concern for students. They explained that they cannot predict when they are going to need it and therefore they cannot notify the university 3 months in advance as the current policy states. Students have to pay a fee to stay connected to the university and maintain their student status while they cannot have access to most of UBC resources, are not allowed to take on student jobs, and cannot involve in any activity that helps them academically. This policy is very different from the University of Toronto, for example, where students can choose whether to pay the fee or not while here at UBC they don’t have that option.

Lack of inclusiveness was another issue of concern that students mentioned. Most of the students I talked to had negative experiences with staff, students, or even faculty members, which prevented them from accessing the accommodation, taking on job opportunities, etc because not everyone was receptive of their disability.

Lack of Scent-free policy and its implementation in UBC public spaces such as recreation centres and libraries has also excluded students with Asthma from participating in various activities or has even made their condition worsen.

The funding from the AMS Impact Grant was very welcomed and it helped me to put together a team, conduct a focus group and compensate the participants. I am still collecting the data I need to further understand and advocate for the needs of students with disabilities at UBC.

I expect that the results of my study can get the university to think about the changes they need to do and make them aware of the problems students with disabilities face at UBC.”

Your AMS top 10 achievements in 2019

After the last day of classes and once the exams are done, the campus is mostly empty! With just a few of us holding the fort here, it’s time to reflect and think back to all the great things the AMS has brought to you this year.  These are our top 10 achievements of 2019.

1. Sexual Violence and Anti-discrimination policy (SVPREP)

In September, the AMS council approved the Sexual Violence Prevention and Respectful Community and Workplace Policy. This will apply to all AMS staff and student members across UBC. Read the full policy here.

2. More funding for SASC, Indigenous Student Fund and U-pass renewal

In March, you agreed to continue your support for the Sexual Assault Support Centre (SASC), to create an Indigenous Student Fund and to extend the U-Pass program for another 5 years.
Plus, you put two questions forward to establish a thrift shop and to re-structure the campus culture and performance. They both passed the referendum. Well done UBC!

3. The Norm Theatre re-opened

This well-loved space reopened last month after being closed for three years for a revamp. Read more about it here.

4. A renovated Clubs Resource Centre opened

Planted between Iwana Taco and the Pit in The Nest, this space is here for you to hang out with friends, get some work done or take a nap. The whole space was renovated to make it more accessible and modern.

5. Interest-free student loans

In early 2019, the BC Government announced the elimination of interest for all current and future student loans.
This is the result of years and years of student advocacy and campaigning for the provincial government to recognize the financial difficulties of students in higher education.

6. Divesting from fossil fuels

Last year, we committed to being fossil fuel-free and we shifted our investments. We are also working closely with the university to divest from fossil fuels.

7. We put up a Lennon Wall

Installed on the first floor of the Nest, it quickly filled up with notes about the events that took place in Hong Kong.

8. Zero Waste Campaign

Plans and policies to implement a zero-waste campaign across campus were finalized. Starting in January 2020, all food outlets will reduce their disposable-cups usage.

9. Textbook Broke campaign

This year, we focused our campaign on pushing for alternatives to expensive textbooks. The development of open educational resources will help to reduce the cost of textbooks.

10. The 30th anniversary of Tiananmen Square

We organized a ceremony at the Goddess of Democracy statue, which was restored for the occasion, to mark the 30th anniversary of the events of Tiananmen Square.

None of this would have been possible without your support and hard work. So, a big thank you to all of you!

Science entrepreneurship could be the path for cancer prevention

By Iciar Fernandez

Seevasant Indran is a PhD student working on a project that studies mutations, changes and behavior of normal cells that might become carcinogenic. As someone who prefers to do science rather than business, he turned to eHub to find out how he can transform his research into a commercial service.

  • Tell us a bit about yourself

I am from Malaysia, from Kuala Lumpur. Regarding my background, I did my bachelor’s degree in Biotechnology, and then I was a research assistant back home in Malaysia, mainly to gauge if I wanted to do a PhD. After a while, I decided I did and I came here to UBC to do my PhD in Genome Science and Technology.

Seevasant Indran

  • What is your idea and how did you come up with it?

My thesis works on variant functionalization; we look at somatic variations and try to figure out a way to profile these variants. Because most of the variants in tumor suppressors and oncogenes are ‘variants of unknown significance’, we have no idea of whether they are harmful or not. So, we are trying to bring this technology as a service for commercialization purposes.

  • What made you reach out to eHub?

I started looking at any programs that offered entrepreneurship services, and while doing this I found eHub.

Being a science student, I am not familiar with the business end of things. I had actually tried out business before starting my PhD and I didn’t particularly enjoy it, I would rather do science. So I have no experience whatsoever in the business world.

Sometimes an idea will sound logical in the science world, but it is just not a good market fit. So, eHub provided me with this great opportunity, and a lot of tools to learn about business aspects that may not be obvious to me. I feel like the biggest help I’ve received is direction, there is a lot more to marketing than may be obvious and eHub provides you with that direction.

  • Since then has your idea come to life or is it in the process of doing so?

At this point, we have a platform for one gene and we are looking at two other genes. We are a yeast lab so we see our results in yeast and compare them to other animal models. But these are already well established and there is actually a paper coming out on that.

  • What are the three key things that you learnt from your experience?
  1. Never underestimate the amount of times you need to optimize something, the value of optimization. Particularly in the science field, 95% of times that you do things, they won’t work. So, the way you improve your success rate is by optimizing again, and again, and again.
  2. Time management. Doing a PhD teaches me how important is time management, back home it’s easy because I have people around, so I don’t have to do everything myself. And as you grow, you also need to think a bit about the future, how to monetize what you do.
  3. Enjoying activities outside the academic world. This is also related to time management. While I have gotten good at managing my time to get things done, sometimes I forget to allocate time to do things that I enjoy such as soccer or music.

Do you want to know what other students at UBC are doing? Come to our RBC Get Seeded event on November 18, 2019. Students from 15 teams will present their ideas to win the seed money to fund their business. More information and tickets here.

Do you also have an idea and don’t know where to start? Check the eHub page to find out more.