Patty Wellborn



View of sports car driving along bridge, over river

New research from UBCO has determined that as tires and roads wear down particles of that waste are spread across roadways and can eventually end up in rivers, streams and lakes.

Ever wonder what happens to the rubber tread that wears off a vehicle’s tires?

New modelling by UBC Okanagan researchers suggests an increasing amount of microplastics—fragments from tires and roadways—are ending up in lakes and streams.

The UBCO School of Engineering researchers developed a conceptual framework to examine the potential contamination originating from the regular use of vehicles on roads and highways. Their findings suggest that more than 50 tonnes of tire and road wear particles are released into waterways annually in an area like the Okanagan.

“The results are quite significant,” says Dr. Haroon Mian, a UBC Postdoctoral Research Associate and study lead author. “It’s especially alarming considering that this microscopic waste can contaminate our freshwater sources.”

Tires are critical for transportation and about 1.5 billion tires are produced annually to meet global demand—leading to almost six million tonnes of tire and road wear particles being generated around the world.

Both synthetic rubber and vulcanized natural rubber are considered forms of elastomeric polymers contributing to microplastics. It isn’t simply the rubber that causes contamination, says Dr. Mian.

“Over time, all of those materials begin to break down and can release chemical additives that affect aquatic species,” he explains.

While some of the materials end up in the atmosphere, the majority of the tire and road wear particles are spread across roadways and eventually end up in aquatic environments. The results of his study indicate that almost 15 tonnes of tire and road wear particles can be transmitted to lake surface water each year, he adds.

This is not only a global issue, but a local one, he points out. The research was done locally and he says lakes like Okanagan and Kalamalka are being unknowingly contaminated every day as thousands of people drive the highways connecting BC interior communities.

“This analysis focused on a small section of highway in the BC interior, but the findings suggest that other regions across Canada may experience the same challenges with this type of contamination,” says Mian. “A more uniform and comprehensive management and treatment strategy must be developed to limit the possible environmental ramifications.”

As part of his research, Mian also conducted a scenario-based assessment to estimate tire and road wear emissions by considering various real-time factors such as tire and roadway degradation in the environment and seasonal variations.

The report recommends implementing tire wear labels and standardization policies, adopting tire pressure monitoring systems, and applying wetlands or roadside swales as a secondary runoff treatment.

The research appeared in the latest edition of Science of the Total Environment and was supported by Kal Tire and Mitacs.

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Pregnant Woman and Gynecologist Doctor at Hospital

Using cannabis while pregnant to combat nausea and vomiting, pain and sleep disturbances while pregnant is nothing new, say UBCO researchers. But women continue to face significant barriers about discussing this use with their health-care practitioners.

A UBC Okanagan researcher is calling for doctors to have an open mind when it comes to cannabis use to combat nausea and other symptoms during pregnancy.

Doctoral student Sarah Daniels recently published research examining the stigma—and the lack of open communication with their doctor—pregnant women experience if they discuss therapeutic cannabis use while pregnant. Her research was published recently in the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs.

Daniels, who studies with Psychology Professor Dr. Zach Walsh in UBCO’s Irving K. Barber Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, says cannabis use during pregnancy is nothing new. But women face significant barriers to discussing this use with their health-care practitioners.

“Historically, cannabis has been used during pregnancy and childbirth—orally, topically, by suppository and by inhalation—to treat nausea and vomiting, pain, sleep disturbances and other symptoms,” says Daniels.

Despite decades of widespread prohibition, she notes cannabis remains among the most widely used drug in Canada in both general and prenatal populations.

More than 100 women participated in an online survey and 34 per cent reported using cannabis during pregnancy. Of those, 89 per cent said they used cannabis for prenatal nausea, and 92 per cent said cannabis is “effective” or “extremely effective” in treating their symptoms. A further 69 per cent said they substituted cannabis in place of a prescribed pharmaceutical.

This is particularly relevant in a landscape where there are few effective treatments for vomiting while pregnant, a condition that can have significant negative health impacts on both the mother and the developing fetus, Daniels says.

Research into prenatal use has resulted in ambiguous results, she adds. Some studies have reported differences in birth weight, head circumference, fetal development and neurodevelopment. Other studies have characterized the use as benign and attribute alleged negative effects to other variables such as poor prenatal nutrition, folate deficiency and tobacco use.

“While we do not have definitive and conclusive clinical data on the full range of potential consequences of cannabis use during pregnancy, the same is true for most pharmaceutical drugs currently available to those who may be pregnant,” says Daniels. “As such, physicians typically utilize their clinical insight to weigh the potential benefits compared to the potential harms in each case.”

Daniels says that physicians should drop the stigma and apply the same cost-benefit analysis to cannabis.

“Stigmatization has been identified as a barrier to discussing therapeutic cannabis use between a woman and her doctor,” says Daniels. “Patients report perceived negative responses from physicians when broaching the subject and fear that their care and the relationship with their physician will be negatively impacted.”

Of those pregnant women using cannabis, 62 per cent said they were not comfortable discussing it with their doctor and 74 per cent agreed they would not share this information with a health-care provider in future pregnancies because they sensed disapproval from their doctor.

Adding to the confusion, Daniels says health-care practitioners acknowledge not having enough information about cannabis use, both generally and specifically, to discuss it in an informed manner with a pregnant patient. A recent educational needs assessment found that physicians, nurses and medical students reported significant knowledge gaps and a lack of training and information about medical cannabis.

Daniels says a growing interest and conflicting information regarding the risks and benefits of therapeutic cannabis use while pregnant suggests a need to develop strategies that will provide women with the best available resources so they can make informed decisions with their doctor about using it.

“This research provides further evidence that prenatal cannabis use is pretty common—more common than people are often comfortable acknowledging,” says Daniels. “However, there continues to be this fear of judgment.

“At the end of the day, we want women to be able to have these conversations with their physicians to provide the best care possible without decisions being impacted by moral judgement, misinformation or stigma. Clear and effective communication with health-care providers—beyond issues of abstinence and legality—is essential to enable the safest therapeutic use of cannabis by pregnant women.”

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Seniors having a conversation

UBC Okanagan’s NavCARE, designed to help older people with declining health age safely in their homes, has now expanded to six European countries.

The European Commission is investing more than $8 million to adapt a volunteer health-care navigation program developed jointly by UBC Okanagan and the University of Alberta.

NavCARE, created to help older persons living with declining health age safely in their homes, launched in 2014 with researchers from UBC Okanagan’s School of Nursing and the University of Alberta’s Faculty of Nursing. The goal was to connect volunteers with older people living at home to help maintain their independence and support their quality of life needs.

After a three-year study that determined older persons living in rural communities with declining health can maintain better, healthier lives if they have the help of a trained volunteer, Dr. Barb Pesut, a UBCO Nursing Professor, and Dr. Wendy Duggleby with the UAlberta Faculty of Nursing launched NavCARE. It started small, in three rural communities in BC. But as Dr. Pesut explains, the need to help the aging population is urgent.

“Far too often, supportive care comes too late and many people are left struggling,” she says. “People living at home with declining health need support early—and volunteer navigators have enormous potential to provide this support and improve their quality of life.”

The program has grown significantly since its inception and in 2021 Health Canada awarded $2.2 million to expand NavCARE across the country.

“This expansion across Canada has been exciting, as we have seen diverse communities across Canada benefit from NavCARE” explains Dr. Duggleby.

Now, a group of European partners will use the NavCARE model to implement a similar program, called EU NAVIGATE, for older people with cancer.

“The concept of care navigation hardly exists in Europe,” explains Dr. Lieve Van den Block, lead researcher for EU NAVIGATE and Professor of Aging and Palliative Care at the Vrije Universiteit Brussels (VUB) and the VUB-University of Ghent End-of-Life Care Research Group. “This is a Canadian care intervention program that’s going to be adapted to the European Union health-care context. The goal is to see how it fits into the health-care systems in our countries and how older people with cancer can benefit from it, including those who usually lack access to health and social care services.”

Earlier this month, EU NAVIGATE began service in six countries: Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands, Ireland, Poland and Portugal. Researchers will monitor and evaluate the implementation of a navigation intervention for seniors with cancer. The program will also examine the impact on the patients and their family caregivers and will run as an international, pragmatic randomized controlled trial.

The three main dissemination partners are the European Cancer Organization, the European Association of Palliative Care and Age Platform Europe. In total, there are 11 partner groups, including one in Canada with Drs. Pesut and Duggleby.

While volunteers are at the heart of NavCARE, Dr. Van den Block says the program will vary in each European country, with some using paid social workers or health-care professionals.

The program was developed in such a way so it could be adapted to different contexts, Dr. Pesut explains.

“What’s so positive about this project is that while the underlying principles of NavCARE stay the same, they are meant to be flexible and adjustable depending on the needs of each country,” she says. “That’s the piece we’re very excited about—seeing its potential within different health-care systems and seeing how various countries chose to use our model and make it work for their specific needs.”

The funding, the equivalent of six million euros, will cover the implementation of the program in the six countries including clinical work, research and a full evaluation. Dr. Van den Block says once navigation services are mapped in Europe, the program can grow to perhaps include all cancer patients, not just senior ones, and she sees the potential for continued growth for the many people living across Europe with chronic illness, including those with frailty or dementia.

“We have really tapped into all the different stakeholder group’s needs to create positive impacts in Europe for people living with cancer,” she adds. “This is a unique project. It is exciting to build on knowledge developed in Canada and translate it to improve care in Europe.”

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A photo of a B.A.R.K. dog and its handler

In 2022, B.A.R.K. hosted more than 25 drop-in and BARK2GO sessions each for a combined total of more than 4,000 canine visits aimed to help reduce student stress.

Ten years ago, a rescue dog named Frances was given a new “leash” on life—and a new job.

Frances was rescued off the streets of Los Angeles by Dr. John-Tyler Binfet an Associate Professor who researches kindness and student success with UBC Okanagan’s School of Education. The pup was put to work to provide Dr. Binfet’s students a unique classroom learning experience. For example, the students would teach Frances a behavioural exercise in front of their classmates.

While Frances has since retired, Dr. Binfet recalls it was her impact on students that sparked a pilot project called Building Academic Retention through K9s (B.A.R.K).

“We couldn’t walk down a hallway without being stopped by students,” he says. “They would eventually look up at me from petting Frances and say, ‘As much as I miss my family, I miss my dog more.’”

Using those experiences as inspiration, Dr. Binfet began B.A.R.K. to examine how animal-assisted visitation can impact feelings of homesickness and a sense of isolation in first-year university students. The program started modestly in 2012 with 12 dogs and has grown significantly.

B.A.R.K. now has more than 60 in-house handler and dog teams—all UBCO volunteers—and reaches thousands of students each year. Each session generally has 10 to 13 dogs and handlers, 15 student volunteers and more than 100 student visitors. BARK2Go, mini sessions offered around the campus, was introduced a few years later and last year the program offered 25 drop-in and BARK2GO sessions each for a combined total of more than 4,000 canine visits.

The program has also spread with and into the community through several different partnerships including the Okanagan Boys and Girls Club and the VEDA Exclusive Student Living buildings.

“We’re thrilled to be celebrating 10 years on campus and are excited to see how the program continues to evolve and move forward,” says Dr. Binfet.

Not only has the program evolved, but it’s come full circle with a number of former students now volunteering as trained B.A.R.K handlers.

“When I first got to campus in 2017, I was extremely nervous and didn’t know what to expect,” says Sierra Adamow, now a UBCO alumna. “During my first week, I noticed the B.A.R.K. program, and it allowed me to make new friends, feel calmer, put a smile on my face and leave me ready to enjoy my university experience. Now in 2022, I volunteer with my dog to help other students feel welcome and included.”

In addition to providing comfort to students, more than 15 peer-reviewed research papers have been published based on the program. Dr. Binfet and his team, including graduate students, have led a number of studies on canine-assisted interventions such as measuring the impact of stress reduction on students and law enforcement members, the importance of canine cuddles and effects of virtual dog therapy.

The program continues to have a lasting impact on many, including Emma Kneller, who became involved as a handler when the program first started.

“B.A.R.K. has created a community full of laughs and joy for students, volunteers and handlers alike,” says Kneller. “B.A.R.K. has changed my life and I am sure many others as well. The joy to share my dogs with people is indescribable and I know, by watching the faces of our students, a little pat, or a scratch behind a dog’s ears goes a lot further than just making my dogs feel good.”

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A person cutting grapes with garden shears

Giving your guests the chance to participate in agricultural workshops or hands-on activities are just some of the ways wineries can create an authentic and memorable holiday, new research from UBC Okanagan suggests.

Establishing a sense of place—letting visitors dig right into the soil and smell the earth where the grapes are grown for their wine—is one strategy wineries can use to revive lagging tourism numbers coming out of the pandemic, new research from UBC Okanagan reveals.

Research Associate Darcen Esau and supervisor Dr. Donna Senese, an Associate Professor in Geography in the Irving K. Barber Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, collaborated on new research published recently in the journal Food Quality and Preference.

“It really does come down to ensuring people understand that wine tourism is a multi-sensory experience,” says Esau.

The findings come thanks to research focused on Italy’s renowned Tuscany wine region in 2018.

Finding “slow, small and local” is what wine tourists crave on vacation, and is what makes Tuscany a world leader in wine tourism. It also provides a simple framework others can follow regardless of where in the world they are located.

“We often think of tourism as just being visual, at just looking at the landscape,” Esau says. “It’s about engaging all five of our senses through participation at a working farm and actually getting a little mud under your fingernails, touching the vines, smelling the wine cellar or hearing a tractor drive by.”

The feeling of being part of an agricultural lifestyle can be accomplished through workshops or hands-on activities. It is this participation in agricultural activity that helps vacationing visitors escape, which makes the whole experience feel more authentic and memorable, he explains.

Esau wanted to understand how the sensory experience of wine tourism can create a unique association with a wine destination, providing memorable experiences that are both unique and authentic. Much of that investigating was done during a four-week trip to Castello Sonnino winery in the valleys of Central Italy. Yes, spending a month on a working vacation at a Tuscan winery is part of a class offered at UBCO.

But the winery is also an education centre and provides lessons to the world, Dr. Senese says.

Dr. Senese, who conducts research with UBC’s Wine Research Centre, has led UBC courses in the Chianti wine appellation four times to study the connections between wine, food and tourism in the sustainability of the region’s geography.

She calls Esau’s findings eye-opening, and further confirmation of what she has held dear for the past 20 years. Respecting place is at the heart of every geographer, like her, and she wants the wine industry to embrace a holistic approach in their thinking.

“It is sensual on all five levels,” she says. “For our students, one of the standouts about visiting a lot of those wineries in Tuscany, and the experiences they have, is the breathtaking passion the people at the wineries have for the product and the place.

“It’s odd to see tears coming to the eyes of students going, ‘Wow. I haven’t had this experience before, and these people are so passionate about what they’re doing.’”

The research comes at an especially important time for a wine industry attempting to recover from a global pandemic. According to a study commissioned by Wine Growers British Columbia and released in mid-August, wine-related tourism in the Okanagan declined to 254,000 visits in 2020 from 1.2 million in 2019.

Dr. Senese is quick to encourage smaller wine regions, such as the Okanagan Valley, to embrace the findings and give their visitors the full sensory experience. After all, many small wineries rely on tourists and local tastings rather than flooding global markets with exported products.

At the same time, the research also applies to all wine regions regardless of their numbers as they seek to drive tourism and subsequent visitation.

“It really is about downplaying that commercial component and emphasizing the local craftsmanship,” says Esau, “which a large winery can do as well. We see great examples of it throughout the Okanagan.”

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A person stepping on a scale to measure their body weight.

While many people may try the do-it-yourself approach when it comes to dieting, new UBCO research says a paid program could yield better results.

For people trying to improve their health and lose weight by themselves—privately tracking and journaling meals and exercise—new research from UBC Okanagan suggests it is time to call in the professionals.

Dr. Lesley Lutes’ latest research paper, published this month in the Journal of the American Medical Association Network Open, suggests people trying to make lifestyle changes are more successful when they use a commercial weight loss program compared to those trying to do it on their own. She is the Director of UBC’s Centre for Obesity and Well-Being Research Excellence and studies behavioural change programs aimed at improving physical and emotional health and personal happiness.

“Given the prevalence of obesity, accessible and effective treatment options are needed to manage obesity and its comorbid conditions including heart disease and pre-diabetes,” she says. “Evidence-based commercial weight management programs are a potential solution to the lack of available treatment and considerably cheaper than a clinic-based approach.”

But, she notes, very few commercial programs have been rigorously evaluated, making it difficult for doctors to refer patients to for-profit programs due to a lack of evidence-based success rates.

While there are hundreds of commercial weight loss programs available—only six meet the United States Preventive Services Taskforce criteria—the quality and success rate, along with behavioural and nutritional components, isn’t well known by health-care providers.

Even fewer of these programs integrate cognitive, affective and behavioural factors—seen as critical elements of care and supported as the basic standard of any care.

As a result, she says, doctors are reluctant to refer patients to commercial programs.

The Canadian Medical Association clinical practice guidelines released in 2020 state that obesity care should be based on evidence-based principles of chronic disease management and must validate patients lived experiences.

“Essentially, obesity care needs to move beyond the simplistic approaches of ‘eat less, move more,’” she says. “To be successful it must address the root drivers of obesity.”

Dr. Lutes was one of the lead investigators who conducted a year-long study in Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom. More than 370 participants were randomly assigned into two groups—half to a commercial weight management program and the remaining to a do-it-yourself (DIY) group.

The DIY participants were provided with common weight-loss approaches—including strategies, diet tracking, self-monitoring apps, meal plans and physical activity—then essentially left to their own devices.

Those in the commercial program were encouraged to attend weekly workshops that included a private weight assessment and discussed successes, problem-solving and topics related to weight loss and behaviour change. Participants also had access to an app, which included minimal self-monitoring of intake, activity and weight along with articles, around-the-clock support and an online community.

“One of the features of the commercial program used in this study was that self-monitoring was simplified to be less burdensome,” Dr. Lutes says. “Participants did not need to weigh, measure or track more than 200 foods, simplifying the process as much as possible.”

At three and 12 months, participants in both groups were assessed. Those randomized to the commercial weight management program lost more than twice as much weight and reduced their waist circumference by a greater percentage compared to those in the DIY group.

There were also secondary benefits for both groups including improvements in blood pressure, heart rate, aerobic stamina, flexibility and sleep.

Dr. Lutes emphasizes two key takeaways. First, the researchers determined adults assigned to a globally available commercial weight management program had greater success at three months. And, importantly, they felt supported and were able to maintain and continue that weight loss across 12 months. Those using the DIY approach had fewer successes.

She also notes this research provides a tool for care providers and policy-makers who see obesity as a serious health concern.

“This information can help me advocate the government about one of the many ways they can support patients in our province to improve health and wellbeing,” she says. “Perhaps our leaders can think about subsidizing access to commercial weight-loss programs that are proven effective. It could be a major step in helping achieve desperately needed improved health outcomes.”

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Young Grizzly Bear with Salmon

A UBCO researcher suspects misadventures with traps set to catch small furbearing animals are causing grizzly bears to damage and lose their front toes.

A UBC Okanagan researcher is suggesting changes to fur trapping practices to help prevent the accidental amputation of grizzly bear toes.

Dr. Clayton Lamb’s latest research, published recently in Wildlife Society, is calling attention to a small number of grizzly bears in the southeast corner of British Columbia missing toes on their front paws. While it’s not a large number of bears, Dr. Lamb says there is enough data to confirm that the accidental amputations, likely due to fur trapping bycatch, are frequent enough to raise concern.

Now a postdoctoral researcher with UBCO’s Irving K. Barber Faculty of Science, and an experienced trapper himself, Dr. Lamb conducted a live-capture research project to better understand grizzly bear mortality as part of his PhD work at the University of Alberta. Lamb captured and collared almost 60 grizzlies. He noticed several of the bears were missing some of their front toes.

“These were not birth defects,” says Lamb. “Identifying how those toes were amputated and mitigating the source of amputation became one of the objectives of this study.”

Of the 57 bears captured, four were missing toes on one of their front feet, which could make it hard for the bears to dig for food or defend themselves. While the injuries had healed, they were all similar and Lamb suggests the wounds were from a misadventure with a trap designed to catch furbearers.

Small body‐gripping traps are used to capture martens or weasels and are typically set with a baited box attached to a tree, he explains. They can be set in early November and remain in place until late winter.

The researchers discussed the issue with trappers, Indigenous communities, scientists, conservation officers, wildlife managers and guide outfitters. Comparing data from other collaring projects in adjacent areas of BC, they found a pattern to the toe loss and even confirmed reports of grizzly bears killed with small mammal body-gripping traps still on their feet.

To test their theory, they set up four small mammal body-gripping traps—rigged so the traps could trigger but not fully close—and monitored them with remote cameras for two weeks. Grizzly bears visited all four traps and sprung two of them.

“Even with the small sample, it was clear that baited traps attracted bears and that bears set off the traps to get the food. We have pictures and videos showing the bears investigating the traps and manipulating the boxes with their paws.”

The researchers also determined it wasn’t the initial snap of the trap that caused the bears to lose their toes, but the prolonged duration of the trap stuck on their foot.

“The bone loss observed in the bears either happened from a weakening of the bone during necrosis and infection, or from force applied to the bone from the trap while the bear walked or ran with the trap still on its foot.”

Small mammal trapping is generally done in the early winter when fur is prime and most valuable. While some trappers voluntarily delay the start of their marten and weasel trapping season, Dr. Lamb is suggesting an official delay from November 1 to early December to buy the bears time to fully hibernate.

“Shifting the start of most trapping that coincides with the active bear season would eliminate the overlap, and trappers should generally be able to avoid accidentally catching bears,” he says. “This not only reduces the risk to the bears, but also prevents the traps from being destroyed by the bears.”

Another suggestion involved a different trap with a smaller, constricted entrance so most bear paws could not fit inside to grab the bait.

Neither suggestion is perfect. Dr. Lamb recognizes both will impact the trappers’ livelihood and require compliance monitoring, adding additional responsibilities to conservation officers.

“The most viable solution to the amputated toe issue requires that bears’ feet do not enter these traps at all,” he says. “The solutions we present have various pros and cons, and we hope this work can help policy-makers choose a solution that will resolve the amputated toe issue while ensuring trappers continue to have the important opportunity to trap furbearers.”

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A photo of a starfish and oil spill

UBCO researchers have come up with a strategy to deal with the waste created when an off shore oil spill is cleaned up.

Images of damaged coastlines, oily sheens, containment booms and endangered wildlife are part of every offshore oil spill.

And while a response team arrives and the clean up gets underway, UBC Okanagan researchers are now exploring how to effectively handle the waste created from that spill.

As part of a Multi-Partner Research Initiative sponsored by Fisheries and Oceans Canada, UBCO engineers are conducting new research to help the oil spill response industry and its regulators enhance response preparedness and efficiency in Canadian waters. A new research study, published recently in the Journal of Hazardous Materials, conducts a lifecycle assessment of oil spill waste mitigation and how to properly dispose of the refuse.

“We never want to experience any sort of spill, but when it happens we need to be prepared,” explains Dr. Guangji Hu, a School of Engineering postdoctoral fellow and report co-author. “If a spill is on land, contaminated soil can be removed and remediated off-site, but that simply isn’t feasible on the water.”

Using a lifecycle assessment approach, the researchers developed a framework to help decision-makers effectively manage the waste of an offshore oil spill cleanup. The lifecycle assessment quantifies the environmental impacts associated with products and services at different points of their life cycle.

The lifecycle assessment compared various strategies for treating wastes—including its collection, segregation and sorting, initial treatment, secure transportation of waste materials, resource recovery and the final disposal of all soiled materials—as well as the resulting environmental impacts, particularly on scenarios situated in Western Canada.

Addressing maritime oil spills is a complex process with many variables including type of oil, tides and water composition, explains Saba Saleem, an engineering master’s student with UBCO’s Lifecycle Management Lab.

“Every spill is unique, but with this new tool we can identify the barriers, gaps and bottlenecks in oily waste management during an offshore oil spill response and enable decision makers to make more informed choices,” says Saleem, who is also the study’s lead author.

Several techniques such as mechanical containment and recovery, use of chemical dispersants, and in-situ burning are commonly used depending on various factors, such as oil slick characteristics, environmental conditions and the spill location.

“The aspect of oil spill recovery waste is one part of a response, but the management of this waste is the most complex, expensive and time-consuming component of recovery,” says Dr. Hu.

The findings point to a strategy of combining centrifugation and landfilling as the most suitable remediation approach for low-impact offshore oil spill waste management, but also highlight the potential of other strategies based on the severity of the spill.

“Analyzing these challenging situations in a holistic manner through lifecycle assessment allows us to develop a framework that encompasses nearly every possible scenario of offshore oil waste management,” Dr. Hu adds. “As a result, stakeholders have one more tool to address these spills quickly and effectively.”

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Two UBC alumni working on an aerospace project.

Connor Badowich and Pradeep Pugalendhi, both graduates of UBC Okanagan’s School of Engineering, at work at KF Aerospace in Kelowna.

To address the increasing demand for aerospace engineers in Western Canada, UBC Okanagan’s School of Engineering is launching an aerospace option.

The new option will be available to manufacturing and mechanical engineering students, explains Dr. Joshua Brinkerhoff, an Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering and coordinator of the aerospace option.

“Aerospace is a huge industry in British Columbia, and across Western Canada,” he says. “Our industry partners in the aerospace sector are seeking highly-qualified graduates with very specific skills. This option will provide a solid foundation for our students to meet those requirements.”

Kelowna’s KF Aerospace has been a significant partner in helping to guide and develop the new program. KF Aerospace is the city’s largest private sector employer and currently has 25 engineering graduates.

“KF Aerospace is very excited to have an aerospace engineering option at UBC Okanagan. This program will help support us with locally grown talent as we continue to expand Canada’s leading engineering services,” says Gregg Evjen, KF Chief Operating Officer. “We thank UBCO for its support in launching a program that will help grow the aerospace sector in Western Canada.”

The aerospace engineering option will equip students with state-of-the-art skills, competencies, theories and design methodologies to train engineers with specialized skill sets in aerospace engineering.

“Our students have a track record of excellence in a variety of disciplines and we are excited to expand our offerings so they can continue to explore what they’re passionate about,” says Dr. Will Hughes, Director of the School of Engineering.

The first intake for the aerospace engineering option begins this fall and before completing the program students will be required to do a fourth-year aerospace capstone project.

“It is a big undertaking to establish a new option in aerospace engineering, but based on feedback from students, faculty and industry, we are confident in this program’s future horizon,” says Dr. Hughes. “We can’t wait to get it off the ground, and we are excited to introduce this new option to our students.”

To learn more about the opportunities available to students who chose this option, visit:

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