Astrophysics alum breaks stereotypes, biochemist’s unusual pathway to PhD, changing the university model for next generation of leaders
University of Victoria Alumni
Faculty of Science
Science News: June 2022
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Dean Peter Loock at ConvocationThe Faculty prepares for a special alumni celebration on Friday, June 10, for the classes of 2020 and 2021 Spring. Credit: UVic Photo Services
Message from the Dean

Greetings from the UVic Faculty of Science,

I am happy to present to you, once again, a smorgasbord of newsclips and updates. To many visitors of our beautiful campus the summer appears to be the slow time of the year–undergraduate students have largely left the campus and many of our dining facilities have shut down. Meanwhile, to many researchers this is the busiest season: the time when field studies are undertaken, lab-based research projects run at full speed, and many of us travel to conferences to present our work…

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headshot of Julie ClaveauClaveau. Credit: Fiona Du Jardin Photography
Space to Grow: Astrophysicist Julie Claveau

For someone who’s spent most her life gazing up at the stars, Julie Claveau (BSc Physics & Astronomy ‘09) is very down to earth. Take a quick orbit around this alum’s social media universe and you’ll discover Claveau is not only a Program Scientist for the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) who’s been working on the newly launched James Webb Space Telescope, but a mother of three, blogger, YouTuber, avid World of Warcraft gamer, violinist, dancer and former lifeguard. Her Instagram feed straddles the seemingly distant galaxies of astronomy, family, gardening and baking.

“People often have these stereotypes that if you’re an astrophysicist you’re this kind of person… But there are so many different facets of a person that adds to what they have to offer to the world, or a team,” says Claveau.

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student in forestSmazynski. Photo provided
Second chance scientist

The world is full of second chances. Julian Smazynski didn’t have the university experience he was hoping for the first time around, but he took a second run. This year, he receives his PhD in Biochemistry.

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Brown cows in fieldHan. Credit: Katy DeCoste
Co-op student of the year

Each year, UVic recognizes three co-op students for their outstanding contribution to their employer organizations, communities, and programs. Congratulations to Ocean Han (Physics & Biochemistry) for making the list!

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Amanda Bates at a beachBates. Credit: Beth Doman
Next generation of leaders

Universities are structured on a colonialist model, focusing on the individual—let’s refocus the next generation of researchers to support each other and better tackle the grand challenges we face, says Amanda Bates, UVic’s Impact Chair in Ecosystem Change and Conservation.

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Ocean Han, Biochemistry and Physics studentMcIndoe. Credit: UVic Photo Services
3M National Teaching Fellowship

Innovative, inclusive teaching is the most fundamental element in Scott McIndoe’s courses. He’s one of ten post-secondary educators nation-wide to be recognized for exceptional leadership in undergraduate education.

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Brown cows in fieldCredit: James Coleman/unsplash
Science-led solution to beef GHGs

New discoveries in gut microbiota—tiny microorganisms living in our digestive tracts—could lead to seaweed-based cattle feed that reduces methane emissions from cows.

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Julian SmazynksiStudent Angela Mitchell. Credit: UVic Photo Services
New COVID-19 test measures virus proteins

Less than 0.1 mL of blood is all that UVic researchers need, in an exciting commercial-academic partnership that has developed a “gold standard” test for COVID-19 using cutting-edge technology.

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Brown cows in fieldSwannie. Credit: UVic Photo Services
Alum Q&A: Karl Swannie

“I’ve been called the creative, persuasive and decisive force behind many successful SaaS Platforms and recently sold a very successful company. Mostly, I’m just stubborn, curious and fortunate.” Swannie is the chair of our inaugural Alumni Advisory Board.

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wolverine headshotCredit: Shutterstock
Wolverine habitat fragments

Present day wolverines—which emerged during the ice age—have been declining globally despite their many adaptions to live in challenging, rugged environments. Connecting their fragmented habitats is essential for conservation. Jason Fisher (PhD Biology ’10) co-authors a piece in The Conversation Canada.

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Save the date: Lipson Lecture
Dr. Roberta Bondar—astronaut, physician, scientist, and photographer—is our 2022 Lipson Lecture speaker. The first Canadian woman and neurologist to fly in space joins UVic this Fall. More info and alumni presale tickets coming this summer.
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