Lonesome George, long believed to be the last of Pinta Island's giant tortoises, is now known to have relatives on nearby islands. (Photo: Thomas Fritts)

Finding Family for Lonesome George
A Galapagos giant tortoise known as Lonesome George may some day lose his ranking as the world's rarest living creature. A multinational team of researchers led by Michael Russello of UBC Okanagan has discovered that George -- long believed to be the last of his Pinta Island species (Geochelone abingdobi) -- has at least one living relative, and perhaps others.

Russello and colleagues examined mitochondrial (mt) DNA and nuclear microsatellite data from George and tortoises from neighbouring Isabela Island, also including genetic data from six museum specimens collected on Pinta. The data revealed that George does, indeed, have close relatives living in the Galapagos Islands -- including a male that is a hybrid, having a Pinta father and an Isabela mother.

In a paper published this week in the journal Current Biology, the research team reported the identification of eight individuals of mixed ancestry among 27 individuals sampled, one of which shared half his genes with Lonesome George.

The researchers plan to return to the Galapagos in search of other tortoises descended from Pinta Island. Over the past 35 years, efforts to have George breed with non-Pinta females have failed. Finding a female hybrid, or even better, purebred Pinta tortoises of both sexes, could take the pressure off Lonesome George and lead to a successful captive breeding program. Lonesome George may no longer be a conservation icon because of his rarity, but rather due to his important role in his species recovery.

MEDIA RELEASE | April 24, 2007
Distinguished Former Federal Minister to Receive Honorary Degree at UBC Okanagan Congregation
A distinguished Canadian who helped create the Canadian territory of Nunavut will receive a UBC honorary degree at UBC Okanagan's Spring Congregation on June 8.

The honorary degree, Doctor of Laws (honoris causa), will be awarded to The Hon. Thomas Siddon, P.C., for his distinguished career achievements, as well as service to UBC and to Canada.

Dr. Siddon, who holds a Ph.D. in aeronautical noise, turbulence and acoustics, is a professional engineer, author and entrepreneur. He also conducted research and was a professor of mechanical engineering at UBC for 10 years.


Okanagan Senate Looking to Better Inform Campus Community
Important items are regularly being passed by the Okanagan Senate. To better inform the campus community, highlights of these items will be posted on the UBC Okanagan Senate website following each scheduled meeting.

Okanagan Senate Meeting Highlights: April 25, 2007

  • The following recommendation was approved to the Council of Senates: "That the elected terms for the current Convocation and Faculty Representatives to Okanagan Senate be extended by 12 months to August 31, 2008."
  • Dr. Carol McFadyen was welcomed as the Senate Representative from the Faculty of Health and Social Development.
  • Ms. Michelle Wilson and Mr. Oliver Penner were welcomed as Student Representatives to the Senate.
  • Program changes were approved in the School of Nursing
  • Thirteen new student awards were approved, totalling more than $23,000 in support for UBC Okanagan students

For more information contact Nathalie Limbos-Bomberg at 79259.

Thesen Nominated for Poetry Prize
Sharon Thesen, Associate Professor of Creative Writing, was nominated for another award this month -- the Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize -- for her book of poetry, The Good Bacteria. The Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize is awarded annually to the best collection of poetry by a British Columbia resident.

For more information on the finalists for the Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize, visit the BC book prizes website.

King Rules Atop International Business Competition
Graduate Studies' Arluene King and her team won both the Top Team and Top Report categories at the 43rd annual International Collegiate Business Strategy Competition in San Diego, April 12 to 14.

King served as VP Corporate Communications in the only Canadian team in the competition. Her team's simulated firm called "Inukshuk Sound," a headphone company, finished with a stock price four times higher than its next best competitor. In total the team brought home five trophies, the admiration of the competition judges, and set the standard for all future competing teams.

Congratulations Arluene!

Grad Studies Announces Staffing Update
Arluene King has returned to her position as Assistant to the Dean, and can be reached at local 78772. She now provides administrative support to the Dean, the Director of Graduate Administration, the Graduate Studies Council, and several of its subcommittees.

Jill Mitchell continues in an auxiliary admissions assistant capacity, processing applications for admission, assisting students, and providing administrative support to Erika Schulz, Director of Graduate Administration. She will also take care of other subcommittees of the Graduate Council. Jill can be reached at her new local, 78829.

Jennifer Cook continues to assist with processing applications for admission and general office support to the College. Jennifer can be reached at 78180.

Students Help Each Other in Peer Support Network at UBC Okanagan
Students helping students -- that's the core idea behind the peer support network (PSN), now finishing its first year of operation at UBC Okanagan.

The network of 25 student mentors, plus another five students who serve as coordinators, provides information and services in four key areas -- learning support, supporting students in distress, advocacy support, and supporting student self-development.

"We have weekly meetings where we learn new things, such as how to work with students in distress," said peer support mentor Roxanne Bautista. "As a mentor, you get great experience."


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May 2, 2007

Teacher Education Roundtable Conference
This annual conference provides a venue for sharing ideas, discussing common concerns and gaining new insights into best practices for teacher education.

This year's conference is hosted by the UBC Okanagan Faculty of Education and supported by the Association for B.C. Deans of Education and the B.C. College of Teachers.

For more information about the workshop, contact Lorraine Carrier at 78125

Date: May 3 and 4
Location: SSC 026

UBC Okanagan participates in Bike to Work Week
Bike to Work Week (BTWW) is being held across the Central Okanagan this week, and UBC Okanagan is participating with over 30 members this year. If you cycle to work at all this week, even just one way, you are eligible to join the UBC Okanagan BTWW team.

There are some great health and environmental perks to cycling and when you join the BTWW group, you can qualify to win fun prizes too. On Thursday, May 3, there is an e-mail trivia challenge and on Friday, May 4, the UBC Okanagan BTWW team is gathering at Parkinson Rec Centre for a barbeque.

To join the UBC Okanagan team contact Leanne Perry. For more information visit www.i-go.ca.

Aboriginal Career Fair
As many as 350 Aboriginal high school students from throughout the Okanagan will visit UBC Okanagan this Thursday for the 13th-annual Aboriginal Career

More than 35 employers will present information to the Grade 9 to 12 students. The Aboriginal Career Fair provides high school students with career information, connects students with Aboriginal role models, and celebrates Okanagan Nation and Aboriginal cultures.

The day will be filled with dancing, singing, and drumming performances, career and employment booths, and more. At 1:30 p.m., a draw will be held for two grand prizes -- two lucky student winners will take home new computers.

Time: 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Date: Thursday, May 3
Location: Courtyard

UBC/Air Canada Pass Product Information Session
What you will learn at this session:

  • What is a UBC/Air Canada Pass, and why we have them
  • How to pay for a pass, and why we use a Journal Voucher
  • Frequently Asked Questions on the pass product.

Registration: RSVP to Connie Fabro by May 7. Space is limited, therefore, please ensure that you are free to attend prior to responding.

Date: Thursday, May 10
Time: 3 to 4 p.m.
Location: ART 206

Math Centre Introduces Online Tutoring
The Math Centre (ART 203) introduced online tutoring for Calculus students in time for the final exam period, and will provide online tutoring for a broader range of subjects in time for the fall semester. Demonstrations of online tutoring will be available during the week of May 14.

For more information regarding online tutoring, contact Cindy Bourne.


Smart Forms Training
UBC Okanagan Finance is pleased to offer SMART FORMS training. Smart Forms are web-based requisition forms that replace paper-based requisition forms (Q-Requisitions and Travel Requisitions). This session is limited to 12 participants -- register early.

To Register: Gabriel Gock, Accounts Payable. Be sure to include your CWL login ID.
Date: Wednesday, May 23
Time: 9 a.m. to 12 noon
Location: FIN 142

Professional Minute Taking
Meeting minutes provide an important record of discussion and decisions. Whether meeting minutes are a regular or occasional responsibility, you will leave this workshop with increased confidence in your skills. Participants in this workshop will receive information about recording secretary etiquette, minute formats and content and will have the opportunity to practice taking and processing minutes through to the final product. Presented by Organizational Development & Learning.

Date: Thursday, May 31
Time: 9 to 11:30 a.m.
Location: FIN 142
Fees: No charge, but registration required
Instructor: Ingrid Tilstra
To Register: Doris Taylor at 78624