Nathan Skolski

Email: nathanskolski@okmain.cms.ok.ubc.ca


 

UBC Okanagan doctoral student Sadia Ishaq's research has found that Alberta, British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec have embraced alternative stormwater management technologies.

UBC Okanagan doctoral student Sadia Ishaq's research has found that Alberta, British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec have embraced alternative stormwater management technologies.

UBC Okanagan researchers develop decision-making tool for governments

As population density in urban areas continues to intensify, municipal and provincial governments are looking towards alternatives to traditional stormwater systems.

Measures such as rooftop gardens, vegetative strips and bioswales—manmade trenches created for rainwater runoff—are becoming more common in urban planning. Known as low-impact developments (LIDs), these measures allow the water cycle to flow more smoothly.

In a recent study, researchers at UBC Okanagan’s Life Cycle Management Laboratory compared how different jurisdictions are handling LIDs. The investigation’s goal was to establish a decision-making tool for governments to help them incorporate LIDs into their urban planning as a way to address water management needs.

LID refers to site design practices that reduce the impact of water runoff. Contrary to traditional systems, LID tries to mimic the natural water cycle in urban settings and helps to harvest rainwater or snowmelt as well as to remove pollutants.

“Canadian stormwater management systems are facing challenges around every corner from climate change to aging infrastructure,” explains Rehan Sadiq, engineering professor and study co-author. “When you add urbanization to the mix, governments need to decide what approach they wish to take when it comes to LIDs or otherwise face potentially dire consequences.”

The UBC researchers found that the guidelines and approaches to implement LIDs vary from one province to another and one municipality to another. Some have embraced LIDs, while others have not.

In particular, the study found that Alberta, British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec have embraced alternative technologies for stormwater management while New Brunswick and the three northern territories continue to lag behind.

“Urbanization has pushed those four provinces to act while the late-adopters have some time to establish their own approaches,” says Sadia Ishaq, UBC Okanagan doctoral student and study lead author. “Whether it is the Far North or the Maritimes, government leaders need to ensure they are taking appropriate action to balance development with sustainable water management.”

Although the study highlights the positive impact of LIDs, it also points out that more research is needed to determine the potential health risks of these systems on the public. Specifically, the microbial quality of storm runoff in urban areas.

“This type of sustainable infrastructure design can be enormously beneficial as communities grapple with aging infrastructure and a changing climate. This analysis can help promote the LIDs and extend their benefits as urban planners prepare our cities for the future,” says Ishaq.

The research, recently published in the Journal of Environmental Management, was supported by funding from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada.

About UBC's Okanagan campus

UBC’s Okanagan campus is an innovative hub for research and learning in the heart of British Columbia’s stunning Okanagan Valley. Ranked among the top 20 public universities in the world, UBC is home to bold thinking and discoveries that make a difference. Established in 2005, the Okanagan campus combines a globally recognized UBC education with a tight-knit and entrepreneurial community that welcomes students and faculty from around the world.

To find out more, visit: ok.ubc.ca.

Open house explores new design and concept

What: Free public open house on co-housing development
When: Wednesday, March 6 at 7 p.m.
Where: Kelowna Innovation Centre Theatre, 460 Doyle Ave.

Community housing is an old concept. But UBC Okanagan students are modernizing the idea with their creation of Kelowna’s first co-housing development plans, called the Aviary.

The engineering and management students and their faculty supervisor will be on hand at a free public open house to unveil the concept, designs and business model for what they say will be an evolution in sustainable housing for the region.

“Co-housing should not be confused with co-op, social or low-income housing,” says Gord Lovegrove, associate professor of engineering at UBC Okanagan and project leader. “The co-housing model typically involves 30 committed families who co-develop a property that clusters self-contained, smaller units around a central community dining and activity hall.”

Lovegrove says this community property helps to reduce costs but increases quality of life thanks to shared facilities like a community garden, social hall, craft room, workshop, toddler playroom and laundry.

“It’s an elegant solution because it addresses many housing issues simultaneously, from aging in place for seniors, to building a sense of community for those that otherwise might be socially isolated, to housing affordability for first-time home buyers,” says Lovegrove.

Development of the project was supported by fourth-year engineering and management students who were responsible for identifying potential locations, designing site layouts and determining development costs. The students also took charge of creating a viable business model for the project and managing its marketing.

“This is the culmination of two years of work and the team worked hard to create an innovative approach to an old idea,” says Lovegrove. “We’re excited to present the conceptual designs to the public and work with anyone interested in helping to make the project a reality.”

The open house begins at 7 p.m. on March 6 at the Kelowna Innovation Centre Theatre. A mini-design café will take place at 8 p.m. for those wishing to delve further the details or to become involved in the next steps.

About UBC's Okanagan campus

UBC’s Okanagan campus is an innovative hub for research and learning in the heart of British Columbia’s stunning Okanagan Valley. Ranked among the top 20 public universities in the world, UBC is home to bold thinking and discoveries that make a difference. Established in 2005, the Okanagan campus combines a globally recognized UBC education with a tight-knit and entrepreneurial community that welcomes students and faculty from around the world.

To find out more, visit: ok.ubc.ca.

Engineering doctoral student George Luka says there is an urgent need to develop a fast, flexible, accurate and real-time detection tool to meet the challenge of protecting water consumers.

Engineering doctoral student George Luka says there is an urgent need to develop a fast, flexible, accurate and real-time detection tool to meet the challenge of protecting water consumers.

Cost-effective biosensor provides immediate and accurate results

A handheld 'tricorder' that can test for biological contamination in real-time has been the dream of science fiction fans for decades. And UBC Okanagan engineers say the technology is closer to science fact than ever before.

Using a small and inexpensive biosensor, researchers in the School of Engineering have developed a novel low-cost technique that quickly and accurately detects cryptosporidium contamination in water samples.

Cryptosporidium is an intestinal pathogen and one of the leading causes of respiratory and gastrointestinal illness in the world. Drinking water contaminated with the parasite can result in diarrhea and, in extreme cases, can even lead to death.

“Current methods for detecting cryptosporidium require filtering large volumes of water, separating out the organisms, staining them with a fluorescence label and trying to identify the pathogen using a microscope,” says George Luka, a doctoral student at UBC Okanagan’s School of Engineering and study lead author. “The process is extremely slow, expensive and doesn’t yield reliable results.”

Luka says there is an urgent need to develop a fast, flexible, accurate and real-time detection tool to meet the challenge of protecting water consumers from this common and potentially dangerous contaminent.

To solve this problem, Luka and his colleagues tested a specially designed and calibrated biosensor. Using varying concentrations of pathogen in water samples, they were able establish its ability to detect cryptosporidium contamination.

“The biosensor performed exactly as we were hoping and was able to measure cryptosporidium contamination rapidly and without the need for complex preparations and highly-trained technicians,” says Luka. “This is an impressive solution that can easily be integrated into inexpensive and portable devices to test drinking water in real-time anywhere in the world.”

Luka also says the biosensor can be expanded to measure other biomarkers and hazards.

“The technology has real potential to be used to test all kinds of biological contamination, both in medical and environmental applications. A handheld sensor that tests the safety of our water and our environment could soon become a reality.”

The research was published recently in the journal Sensors and was funded by the India-Canada Centre for Innovative Multidisciplinary Partnerships to Accelerate Community Transformation and Sustainability (IC-IMPACTS).

About UBC's Okanagan campus

UBC’s Okanagan campus is an innovative hub for research and learning in the heart of British Columbia’s stunning Okanagan Valley. Ranked among the top 20 public universities in the world, UBC is home to bold thinking and discoveries that make a difference. Established in 2005, the Okanagan campus combines a globally recognized UBC education with a tight-knit and entrepreneurial community that welcomes students and faculty from around the world.

To find out more, visit: ok.ubc.ca.

FortisBC partners to fund smart energy research chair at UBC Okanagan

British Columbia is poised to become more energy efficient and sustainable thanks to a new research collaboration announced today between FortisBC and UBC Okanagan. They’ve created a Smart Energy Research Chair position to help optimize energy use in BC and reduce the province’s greenhouse gas footprint.

“The future of humanity depends on our ability to make informed and sustainable energy choices,” says UBC Okanagan School of Engineering Professor, Kasun Hewage, recipient of the FortisBC Smart Energy Chair award. “This new position gives us an opportunity to better understand how to optimize and improve energy efficiency through an in-depth analysis of the environmental, financial and social implications—what we call the complete lifecycle—of each of those choices.”

The FortisBC Smart Energy Research Chair is a five-year appointment supported by FortisBC, Mitacs and UBC. Hewage says the new position will direct independent research to address BC’s growing energy needs and improve the sustainable use of available energy sources in the province.

Hewage, an associate director with UBC’s Clean Energy Research Centre, takes a holistic approach to investigating smart energy strategies, which includes cost-effective, sustainable and renewable energy production systems coordinated by cutting edge technologies. By evaluating the implications and cost-benefits of a diverse variety of smart energy solutions, Hewage will be able to provide policy-makers with invaluable data.

“This role will mean that we are well-positioned to leverage UBC Okanagan’s expertise in green technologies and work with stakeholders like FortisBC to develop tools and strategies to improve energy sustainability throughout the province,” says Hewage.

Hewage is also part of a multidisciplinary network of UBC researchers working collaboratively to develop new tools, techniques, policies and best management practices to address municipal infrastructure challenges including climate resiliency and the environment. The Cluster of Research Excellence in Green Infrastructure integrates the expertise of researchers in engineering, economics, geography and the social sciences.

In addition to the funding from FortisBC, the appointment will be supported by matching internship funding from Mitacs, which will support students to work hand-in-hand with FortisBC throughout the five-year collaboration.

“We appreciate the work that UBC Okanagan is doing to advance research and education around energy-efficient buildings as well as the opportunity to be involved,” said Danielle Wensink, director of conservation and energy management for FortisBC. “We’re committed to helping our customers manage their energy use and these findings will have real-world benefits as we incorporate them into our many energy management programs.”

“Our investigators are among the finest in their fields,” says Phil Barker, vice-principal and associate vice-president of research at UBC’s Okanagan campus. “Industry collaborations like these help our research teams tackle major societal issues and contribute their expertise to solving real problems. Sustainable infrastructure is a core research strength at UBC’s Okanagan campus and research partnerships help catalyze smart strategies, influential policy and emergent technologies for the future.

About UBC's Okanagan campus

UBC’s Okanagan campus is an innovative hub for research and learning in the heart of British Columbia’s stunning Okanagan Valley. Ranked among the top 20 public universities in the world, UBC is home to bold thinking and discoveries that make a difference. Established in 2005, the Okanagan campus combines a globally recognized UBC education with a tight-knit and entrepreneurial community that welcomes students and faculty from around the world.

To find out more, visit: ok.ubc.ca.

UBC Okanagan engineering students tasked with designing a safer donation bin

What: Computer-aided design/computer-aided manufacturing (CAD/CAM) design competition finals
Who: 400 first-year engineering students
When: Sunday, November 25, 2018, from 2–5pm
Where: Richard S. Hallisey Atrium, Engineering Management and Education Building, UBC Okanagan

First-year engineering students at UBC Okanagan have been tasked with solving a pressing need that may save lives.

UBC Okanagan is following its successful collaboration with Metro Community Church where the same first-year design course led to a personal belongings carrier prototype designed for homeless people. Course Instructor Ray Taheri was approached this summer by Union Gospel Mission to see if students could design a safer clothing donation bin.

“In the Lower Mainland alone, there have been many cases of injuries and even death related to people being trapped inside these bins,” says Taheri.  “We asked students to take on this challenging task and come up with a new and innovative design to stop these needless injuries and death.”

Over 400 first-year students are participating in the computer-aided design/computer-aided manufacturing (CAD/CAM) APSC 171 design competition finals.  The competition culminates with a showcase taking place on Sunday, November 25.

About UBC's Okanagan campus

UBC’s Okanagan campus is an innovative hub for research and learning in the heart of British Columbia’s stunning Okanagan Valley. Ranked among the top 20 public universities in the world, UBC is home to bold thinking and discoveries that make a difference. Established in 2005, the Okanagan campus combines a globally recognized UBC education with a tight-knit and entrepreneurial community that welcomes students and faculty from around the world. For more visit ok.ubc.ca.

Kenneth Chau, associate professor of engineering at UBC Okanagan.

Kenneth Chau, associate professor of engineering at UBC Okanagan.

Discovery by international research team advances understanding of light momentum

The idea that light has momentum is not new, but the exact nature of how light interacts with matter has remained a mystery for close to 150 years. New research from UBC’s Okanagan campus, recently published in Nature Communications, may have uncovered the keys to one of the darkest secrets of light.

Johannes Kepler, famed German astronomer and mathematician, first suggested in 1619 that pressure from sunlight could be responsible for a comet’s tail always pointing away from the Sun, says study co-author and UBC Okanagan Engineering Professor Kenneth Chau. It wasn’t until 1873 that James Clerk Maxwell predicted that this radiation pressure was due to the momentum residing within the electromagnetic fields of light itself.

“Until now, we hadn’t determined how this momentum is converted into force or movement,” says Chau. “Because the amount of momentum carried by light is very small, we haven’t had equipment sensitive enough to solve this.”

Now that technology is sensitive enough, Chau, with his international research team from Slovenia and Brazil, are shedding light on this mystery.

To measure these extremely weak interactions between light photons, the team constructed a special mirror fitted with acoustic sensors and heat shielding to keep interference and background noise to a minimum. They then shot laser pulses at the mirror and used the sound sensors to detect elastic waves as they moved across the surface of the mirror, like watching ripples on a pond.

“We can’t directly measure photon momentum, so our approach was to detect its effect on a mirror by ‘listening’ to the elastic waves that traveled through it,” says Chau. “We were able to trace the features of those waves back to the momentum residing in the light pulse itself, which opens the door to finally defining and modelling how light momentum exists inside materials.”

The discovery is important in advancing our fundamental understanding of light, but Chau also points to practical applications of radiation pressure.

“Imagine travelling to distant stars on interstellar yachts powered by solar sails,” says Chau. “Or perhaps, here on Earth, developing optical tweezers that could assemble microscopic machines.”

“We’re not there yet, but the discovery in this work is an important step and I’m excited to see where it takes us next.”

The study was published on August 21 in Nature Communications with funding from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, the Slovenian Research Agency, CAPES, CNPq and Fundação Araucária.

About UBC's Okanagan campus

UBC’s Okanagan campus is an innovative hub for research and learning in the heart of British Columbia’s stunning Okanagan Valley. Ranked among the top 20 public universities in the world, UBC is home to bold thinking and discoveries that make a difference. Established in 2005, the Okanagan campus combines a globally recognized UBC education with a tight-knit and entrepreneurial community that welcomes students and faculty from around the world. For more visit ok.ubc.ca.