Leading Change with Sustainable Literacy

By Ranah Chavoshi
Edited by Franki Katz

Every two years, individuals uniquely positioned in their fields to make a difference in sustainability meet at the bi-annual conference GLOBE 2016. This conference is preceded by a youth conference called Leading Change which is designed for individuals who are actively working to become the change-makers who inspire others in the sustainability movement. This spring I was fortunate enough to attend both conferences. There,  I was inspired to see so many other young leaders and thinkers working towards the common goal of reducing carbon emissions and phasing out our reliance on oil and its products. My fellow delegates came from across Canada with a wide diversity of backgrounds. Among these business professionals, experts in law, sociology, and applied scientists, there was a high proportion of of environmental and fundamental scientists present. Contrary to Leading Change, GLOBE had a  low count of scientists among the attendants and low representation on panels and speakers as well.Read More »


HERstory: Writing Women Back into Science

By Alisha Ward

Why is it that whenever you ask anyone to name a famous scientist they are almost always men? You get answers like Einstein, Newton, Darwin, etc. If you ask specifically for female scientists people will usually know Marie Curie along with maybe Rosalind Franklin or Ada Lovelace, but they’re unlikely to be able to name any more than that. Seriously, there must have been way more than three female scientists. How is it that those are the only names we know?  It certainly wasn’t because women weren’t pursuing science, in fact there were quite a few notable women in scientific fields long before it was “socially acceptable” for women to be scientists. It was mostly due to women being actively unwritten from science contributions. Their work was overlooked, underfunded, and in many cases even claimed as the product of another (always male) scientist.Read More »

Why you should care about gravitational waves

By Jesse Velay-Vitow

On the 11th of February, the Laser Interferometry Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) released confirmation that they had direct detection of gravitational waves. What followed was a lot of phycisists cheering excitedly and many people knowing that something important had obviously happened, but not quite sure about its relevance. Hopefully this blog post will shed some light on why everyone should be excited about this.Read More »

Exit Signs

By Tomas Rapaport

I have two things to do tonight. 1. Write up a Science Undergraduate Society (SUS) Exit Report for incoming executives and 2. Write a blog post which my fellow Executive Editor has been asking for the last few weeks. As I sat down to do task #2, I realized that as a science student I have developed a built-in inability for inefficiency and instead of continuing to research the factors which contribute to young customers’ enjoyment of coffee shops and revisit expectations (you can find research on nearly anything online!), I decided to write up the exit report, and post an excerpt of it on here instead. Some may call me lazy, but in all honesty, as I wrote the report I realized that its contents have just as much to do with being a science student as any analytically designed and cited paper I could ever produce. Thus, here is the introduction to Tomas Rapaport’s SUS exit report:Read More »

Why Science Can’t Give You All the Answers

By Sean La

When I was in high school, I was a scientismist. Not a scientist (I was quite the mediocre student in Science 10). No, I was a scientismist, I believed in scientism. Scientism is the belief that the only sure way to understand the world is through the scientific method [1].

To me, science was the answer. Every phenomenon could be reduced. Culture is herd behaviour. War is natural selection. Love is chemistry. And religion is adaptation. To me, science was the word and to suggest otherwise was blasphemy.

And physics and math were the most powerful because of the power of their predictions.

But as I grew a little bit older and a little bit wiser, I made two great observations about science: there are things you can’t know, and there are things you can’t know to know.

Things you can’t know.Read More »

Road Building on Walbran Karst: A Sinking Idea

By Charly Caproff
Photos courtesy of Busta Pbj

Sir-Karst-A-Lot‘Environmentally responsible’ Teal Jones has proposed to construct logging roads through a landscape characterized by sinkholes, disappearing streams and caves.

Sinkholes are caused by the dissolution of limestone by slightly acidic rainwater. Surface water seeps through the epikarst and opens intricate cave chambers within the subterranean environment. They can also occur due to the lowering of the water table. As the limestone dissolves, the organic material at the surface can no longer be supported, leading to the ground caving in rapidly and with little warning.

Peter Cressey and I ventured into the heart of Cutblock 4403, a magnificent old-growth rainforest, to observe the proposed route. Cressey was actively involved in the Walbran Valley blockades during the 90’s. Approximately 10 meters from the proposed road route we found an exposed sinkhole. It was roughly two feet in diameter, and directly below the proposed route on a steep bank. There had been a heavy rainfall that weekend and crystal clear surface water was rushing into the dark, mysterious depths. To the right of the sinkhole, an immense western red cedar towered overhead. As I continued to explore the rainforest, I moved cautiously as the forest floor was covered with depressions.Read More »

Exploring the Walbran Valley

Following up on Charly’s post earlier this week, we couldn’t resist sharing a few more photos of the spectacular Walbran Valley. If these don’t make you want to skip that midterm you’ve got coming up and go adventuring, we don’t know what will. Enjoy!

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These photographs are courtesy of the wonderfully talented Busta Pbj.

What Lies Beneath The Walbran


By Charly Caproff

Photo courtesy of Busta Pbj

The Walbran Valley is one of the last remaining intact old growth red cedar forests on southern Vancouver Island. This ecologically diverse area contains impressive stands of coniferous trees that are thousands of years old. During the ‘war of the woods’ over a decade ago, the Walbran Valley was the center of heated protests between industry and conservationists. Recently, it was revealed that the logging company Teal-Jones intends to clear-cut sections of this pristine environment, which has ignited organizations, such as the Wilderness Committee, Sierra Club BC, the Ancient Forest Alliance and The Friends of the Carmanah/Walbran to speak out and fight for the protection of this forest ecosystem.

Karst is a landscape that is formed from the underground erosion of soluble rocks like limestone, dolomite, and gypsum. The erosion forms underground openings, caves, and streams that support unique ecosystems. Karst landscape can be easily damaged by activities such as logging and road building.

If the old-growth forest underlain by karst is logged, the area could become a desolate landscape, compromising the water quality of the drainages.

Read More »

CJSF Interviews SFU SURJ!

What better way to kick off the SFU Science Undergraduate Research Journal’s blog, than with an interview about SFU SURJ? We promise we’re not complete narcissists – we are just real stoked on this project!

Recently, Emma Atkinson (SFU SURJ Executive Editor) sat down with the host of the CJSF radio program, “Health Matters” to discuss SFU SURJ and undergraduate research on a more general scale.

Listen to the interview (in all its glory) here.

You can listen to “Health Matters” the last Wednesday of every month on SFU Ideas & Issues at 12:00pm. SFU Ideas & Issues presents news, research and stories from SFU’s students, campuses and communities. Got a story idea? Contact their Public Affairs Coordinator at CJSFpa@sfu.ca. Want to get involved? They’ve got tons of ways to participate on air, behind the scenes and in the community. Visit www.cjsf.ca/signup to attend one of their weekly orientations.