VIU lecture series kicks off with the story of the endangered Vancouver Island marmot

An brown Vancouver Island marmot sits on a grey rock with some green bushes around it.

The first lecture of the series showcases student research projects that reveal new aspects of Vancouver Island marmot biology. Eden Rowe Photo

January 31, 2023 - 1:15pm

Science and Technology Community Lecture Series features seven presentations by VIU faculty.

Scientists are sharing their insights on everything from the endangered Vancouver Island marmot to investigating deep-sea organisms with computational chemistry during the Vancouver Island University (VIU) Science and Technology Community Lecture Series.

The lecture series has run almost every spring for the last 16 years and was created as an opportunity for researchers to share their findings on a range of different issues and topics with the VIU community and the public.

“The talks this year showcase the creativity and innovation occurring within VIU’s Science and Technology department by professors and their undergraduate students,” said Dr. Timothy Green, VIU’s Canada Research Chair in Shellfish Health and Genomics and the series coordinator.

The series runs on Wednesdays, 5:45 to 7 pm, from February 8 to March 29 and doors open at 5:30 pm. There is a short student presentation before the featured speaker. There is no lecture on February 22 during VIU’s study days (semester break for academic programs). All lectures are free to attend and are in Building 355, Room 203.

The series kicks off on Wednesday, February 8 with Parasites, ecology and genetics of the endangered Vancouver Island marmot, presented by Mac Barrera, a VIU alum and Lab Technician, and Dr. Jamie Gorrell, a VIU Biology Professor. 

Attendees are invited to learn the story of the Vancouver Island marmot, an endangered mammal, through the eyes of a student leading cutting-edge research. Barrera will share the results of his research project, conducted as an undergraduate at VIU, on the genetics of marmot parasites and what makes these species unique to the Island. His research was recently published in the International Journal for Parasitology: Parasites and Wildlife.

Headshot of

Dr. Jamie Gorrell.

Gorrell will detail the history of conservation efforts to save this species from the brink of extinction. He will also share other research discoveries made by students in his lab studying marmot behaviour, genetics and ecology. 

“I’m excited to showcase some amazing student research projects, which reveal new aspects of marmot biology and will help improve ongoing efforts to save this species from extinction,” said Gorrell. “These projects demonstrate what VIU undergraduate students are capable of and the impact they can have while gaining real research experience.”

Other presentations in the lecture series include:

  • Can shellfish adapt to the rapid pace of climate change in the Salish Sea?, presented by Dr. Timothy Green, VIU’s Canada Research Chair in Shellfish Health and Genomics, on February 15.
  • Under Pressure: Using computational methods to investigate pressure resistance in deep-sea organisms, presented by Dr. Heather Wiebe, a VIU Chemistry Professor, on March 1.
  • From Ions to images: new tools for mapping molecules directly in tissue, presented by Dr. Kyle Duncan, a VIU Chemistry Professor, on March 8.
  • The wonderful white sturgeon: A dinosaur fish in danger?, presented by Dr. Dan Baker, a VIU Fisheries and Aquaculture Professor, on March 15.
  • Pursuit-evasion games, presented by Dr. Melissa Huggan, a VIU Mathematics Professor, on March 22.
  • Mission impossible: steps toward understanding the Platanthera dilatata orchid complex, presented by Dr. Jasmine Janes, a VIU Biology Professor, on March 29.


Media Contact:

Rachel Stern, Communications Officer, Vancouver Island University

C: 250.618.0373l E: | T: @VIUNews

Tags: Biology | Chemistry | Fisheries and Aquaculture | Math | Research | Announcements

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