2021-2022 Welcome to the Biodiversity Research Centre

September 6, 2021

Welcome to the Biodiversity Research Centre. We are looking forward to welcoming everyone back in person. The BRC is operating under UBC’s Campus Return Plan and the updated Return to Campus Public Health Guidelines.  Masks are mandatory inside the building, including meeting rooms. If you are serving food, please do so outside. We lack covered space in the courtyard, so if you need to borrow one of the 10x10 pop-up tents, please contact the Administrator, Katie Beall (katie.beall@ubc.ca).


For new grads and postdocs that are joining us, please make sure to add yourself to the main BRC mail groups by following the instructions posted

. The two main BRC mail groups are Research and Building. 


The Biodiversity Research Centre is resolved to work against racism and to promote diversity within our centre as well as more broadly in the scientific community. In discussions with a variety of groups (undergraduate and graduate students, staff, faculty), an often-expressed suggestion is to provide more specific mentorship and research opportunities for undergraduates who self-identify as Indigenous, Black, or People of Color (abbreviated as IBPOC) and/or as visible minorities. Hence, we are establishing an Undergraduate Diversity Research Grants Program. The program was developed by Darren Irwin and Sunita Chowrira, following consultation with the Departmental EDI Committees, BRC faculty members, and the Faculty of Science.  Details of the program, as well as an application form, can be found here:


We are happy to welcome three new BRC Faculty members:

Sarah Benson-Amram (Assistant Professor, Forest and Conservation Sciences and Zoology)
Andrea Reid (Assistant Professor, Institute for the Oceans and Fisheries)
Risa Sargent (Associate Professor, Land and Food Systems)

A complete list of BRC Faculty and their research interests can be found here.


We’re also pleased to welcome Courtney Collins (starting October 2021) as the newest Biodiversity Postdoctoral Fellow, and Gracielle Higino as the new Living Data Project/Biodiversity Postdoctoral Fellow joining Tess Grainger. They will be coordinating some of the internal seminars and EcoEvo Retreat (postponed until March 2022). A search for the next Biodiversity Research Centre post-doc will open in November 2021. 

Likewise, we are happy to announce that Tom Booker (starting October 2021) and Julia Kreiner (started May 2021) are the Bioinformatics Postdoctoral Fellows, and they will be co-teaching the bioinformatics workshop (BIOL 525D) this fall.  


The BRC hosts a variety of seminars and discussion groups, including:

The Biodiversity Research Seminar (BRS) series is our flagship seminar series and has a great line-up of speakers for the upcoming year.  This is meant to be a broadly aimed seminar series that should appeal to the diversity of members of the BRC, regardless of Departmental affiliation. This seminar series is held Wednesday at noon, and we will be presenting these as a Zoom webinar initially this term. We will keep a close eye on the Provincial guidance about gatherings and we may be able to pivot to in-person gatherings later this term or next. The schedule is posted on our events page:
https://biodiversity.ubc.ca/events/biodiversity-research-seminar-series . Thanks to the BRS seminar Committee members Judith Mank, John Richardson, and Amy Angert for putting together an impressive line-up this year, and to Yuying Lin and Samantha Straus for patiently dealing with all of the AV and Zoom webinar setup. Thank you, both!

We also have an internal seminar series, the Biodiversity Legendary Internal Seminar Series (BLISS), 10am on Thursdays in room 224. This will be delivered in-person with option to view remotely unless otherwise noted. A Zoom link will be sent out on the BRC Research Listserv each week. This series lets us showcase all the great work happening here. The fall schedule posted here: https://www.zoology.ubc.ca/bliss/ Thanks to Tess Grainger for coordinating and planning this series. 

The Biodiversity Public Lecture is scheduled for November 4, 2021. This year’s speaker is Dr. Peter Marra. More details to follow.


Through funding from the BRC and an endowment (donations always accepted!!), we will continue to support many BRITE Graduate internships in governmental, industrial, and non-profit sectors (approximately six per year). Thanks to Sally Otto, Kai Chan, and Kathy Martin for serving on the BRITE Internship committee.


Is there a topic or skill-set that you really want to see explored at the BRC?  Apply for funding support from BRC (see form at https://biodiversity.ubc.ca/training/brite/workshops/brc-workshop-propo… ) or email Loren with suggestions.


Housed in the BRC, the Zoology Computing Unit manages the network and computing infrastructure for Zoology and Biodiversity.  People in those groups can get free accounts or member accounts for access to enhanced services such as: our server cluster, automatic backups, custom web blogs/sites, etc.  Please contact Andy (Andy@zoology.ubc.ca) for more information.


We have purchased the Meeting OWL Pros in each meeting room (111, 224, 225, and 303). The size of Room 224 requires two OWLs to be linked together to allow the cameras and microphones to pick up conversations.  We’re waiting on UBC IT to finalize this – hopefully by the first day of classes. These OWLs are locked to a rolling cabinet in the centre of each room. Please contact Andy for more details.


Autoclaves, 2 environment chambers, bioanalyzer, water filtration systems, and much more. Please contact Katie Beall (katie.beall@ubc.ca) for more information.


The BRC and BBM are planning an expansion of the Beaty Biodiversity Centre Building.  Over the past year, user groups including faculty, graduate students, postdocs, and staff from the BRC and BBM met with an outside firm, Resource Planning Group (RPG) to to describe what should be included in such an expansion, as well as the requirements of the space. Following completion of this “Functional Program” in January, we obtained Board 1 approval of the project from UBC.  We then solicited proposals from Architects and ultimately selected Public Architecture to design the project.  We were impressed by their proposal.  Early Schematic Design is now underway.  The architects are analyzing the functional program and looking at creative ways to balance program demands/priorities with site constraints. We expect massing studies that reflect the project’s goals to be available for discussion in the next few weeks.


For building related issues, including access and deficiencies, please contact the Administrator, Katie Beall katie.beall@ubc.ca . Her office is room 115, but it’s always easy to reach her via email.


We wish to thank everyone for their patience as we try to function effectively during the pandemic.  Special thanks to the Patrick Keeling and Mary O’Connor who have served as Associate Directors since 2013.

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