Around town: Operation Med School

Medical students learning from professor.This one’s for you if you have a high school student around the house who is thinking that med school could be a good option for post-secondary.

A group of enterprising Grade 11 and 12 students is putting on a one-day pre-medical conference for high school peers. Run as an annual event, Operation Med School exposes attendees to many aspects of working in health care by giving them a chance to meet medics, biomedical researchers and other professionals in the field of medicine. The Vancouver event takes place on Saturday, February 18, at the Robert H. Lee Alumni Centre of the University of British Columbia. (The team also runs similar events in Toronto and Calgary.) Admission includes a lunch card as well as networking opportunities with people who can help guide a future medical career.

Dear reader, I’m sure if you cast your mind waaay back (or even waaaay-er back for some), to those intense days of career planning for high school graduation, you will no doubt remember the heady mix of giddy excitement at the prospect of adulthood mixed with a good dose of

Cool science gifts for the cool science kids

Image of child in spacesuit helmet with Dolly the sheep reflected in the backgroundWith the arrival of a Talk Science to Me baby this summer, we’re looking ahead this festive season to nurturing the next generation of science fans with some cool gifts.

Crowdsourced from friends, like a lot of parenting advice these days, here’s our list for keeping the kids (and adults too) fully occupied over the festive season.

(Many) days out with science

First up, from a new mom, our associate editor Roma Ilnyckyj recommends a family membership to a science museum. In Vancouver, BC, we’re spoiled for choice with excellent kid-friendly institutions like Science World, which is filled to the brim with interactive exhibits, as well as the Beaty Biodiversity Museum, which connects us with the natural world, and the H.R. MacMillan Space Centre, to blast us off among the stars. Or you may live close to London’s Natural History Museum or the Smithsonian in Washington, DC, which both allow free

Around town: All creatures, great and small

vet_students_clinical_training_2006-08This weekend will see a gathering of the province’s veterinarians and staff in downtown Vancouver for the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA) and the Society of British Columbia Veterinarians (SBCV) Chapter Fall Conference and Trade Show. The program seems predominantly small animal–oriented, but in reality, vets across BC handle all sizes of patient, quadruped and biped, skin, scales, fur and feather in their daily working lives.

Have you ever wondered just how oddly varied a day’s work must be for a veterinarian?

While your local GP will open the surgery door to see only one species waiting in line, anything goes in the veterinarian’s waiting room—mammal, reptile, avian…fish?

For an example of the oddness routinely encountered by veterinarians, the first time I met with a chinchilla on the consult list, something that looked like a gremlin popped out of the pet carrier onto the table—not quite the fluffy cat I was expecting. Luckily the practice library (pre-Internet days, oh

Around town: 16th International Conference of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Mertz_and_Ninnis_arrive_at_Aladdin's_CaveThis week, Vancouver is hosting the 16th International Conference of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. Jointly organized by three associations—the International Union of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, the Canadian Society for Molecular Biosciences and the Pan-American Association for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology—conference attendees will attend sessions over five days. These include two plenaries delivered by Nobel Prize winners, including Dr. Andrew Fire (2006; RNA gene silencing-interference by double stranded dsRNA).

The conference theme this year is “Signalling Pathways in Development, Diseases and Aging.” This is certainly a broad scope, since the three cover just about everything a cell will do in its lifetime. But why the excitement over cell signalling pathways? What are they, and how are they involved in aging, disease and development? And just why are biochemists and molecular biologists so interested anyway?

In a nutshell, it’s all about exploration.

Around town: Shatner and early grammar woes

William_Shatner_Star_Trek_first_episode_1966(Or why you should hire an editor.)

Local institution the University of British Columbia (UBC) is celebrating its 100th anniversary this school year. This weekend, as part of its centenary celebrations, UBC is running a daylong event: UBC100: What’s Next? A day of exploring the future, a series of talks on upcoming issues in science, community and technology. To round off the day in style, actor, musician, author and horse breeder William Shatner will share his perspective in a talk called The Curious Life, and will take questions from the audience.

My Around Town series, as I’ve explained previously, is a collection of posts highlighting great local science events. I usually pull together interesting news from conferences happening in Vancouver or explore the topics of the conferences in a more general way. With Captain Kirk himself in town, there are so many potential topics for an Around Town blog post here: NASAStar Trek…space…technology…horse breeding?

Should I focus on the amazing science portrayed through the decades and presented seamlessly by Shatner and fellow actors in one