A unique partnership between UBC Okanagan, the British Columbia Institute of Technology and a private company, Pacific Rim Brands, has opened the door for the research and development of cannabis-infused beverages.
“We are at the early stages of this research and are very excited about the potential for both interesting science and new products for consumers,” says chemistry professor, Susan Murch.
Murch’s research investigates the chemistry of plants and how plant chemistry affects human health. She’s interested in cannabis ingredients and how they can be used in beverages for health, wellness and leisure.
Artificial anti-oxidant may be the next go-to supplement
Naturally-derived anti-oxidants have become the ‘it’ health ingredient to look for in food. But researchers from UBC Okanagan and the University of Bologna have discovered that TEMPO—a well-known artificial anti-oxidant—is up to 100 times more powerful than nature’s best and could help counteract everything from skin damage to Alzheimer’s Disease.
“Free radicals are a natural part of human metabolism. But when our bodies have too many, like when we’re exposed to UV radiation from the sun, when we smoke, or even when we drink alcohol, it can be a problem,” says Gino DiLabio, chemistry professor and study co-author.
While the body already has its own chemical defenses against free radicals through vitamin C and vitamin E, DiLabio and his colleagues wanted to know how a human-made anti-oxidant called TEMPO would perform.
Professor & Department Head, Chemistry
Chemist Fred Menard is looking at questions about chronic disease in ways few others can. He is developing molecular probes and biologically compatible reactions to study these living systems and how they are influenced by nerve-cell phenomena.
In the Menard Lab, a team of nine students focuses its research on designer chemical probes that help investigate the process of nerve-cell degeneration. Although Menard’s work is largely chemical, he works closely with other investigators in other fields to uncover the factors in this process.
“We need to step outside our field and talk with colleagues in other disciplines. Our tools are chemical, but the questions are biological.”
Associate Professor, Chemistry
“I’m interested in not just how we affect the environment in terms of pollutants but how organisms affect the environment,” says associate professor, Karen Perry.
Perry is interested in exploring how bacteria and their processes affect the environment, and studies cyanobacteria, an ancient group of bacteria that can produce harmful neurotoxins.
She’s researching how they fit into the ecosystem in different environments and plans to look at saline lakes in particular to see what species are there and what role they play in terms of nutrient cycling.
Associate Professor, Chemistry
LABS & Groups
Our labs and groups form the foundation of our research efforts, where our faculty members work with a number of community and industry partners to advance knowledge and provide hands-on research and learning opportunities for students
Plants produce hundreds of thousands of distinct small-molecule natural products, many of which are invaluable nutrients, commodity products, and therapeutics.
At the heart of the beautiful Okanagan Valley, Dang Group integrates biochemistry, chemistry, bioinformatics, and molecular genetics to elucidate and engineer the biosynthesis of valuable small molecules from medicinal plants. Our ultimate aim is to learn and to translate natural metabolism into innovative biotechnologies to meet the ever-increasing demands of high-value chemicals.
Noncovalent interactions play a central role in determining structure and reactivity throughout chemistry and physics. Our group develops and applies computational methods to understand this role.
We also use computational chemistry techniques to study a wide variety of radical systems in chemistry, biochemistry and physics. Our current research focuses on quantum effects in enzymes that mediate radical rearrangement processes and on the potential for non-redox metal cations to act as a chemoprotective against radical damage through hydrogen atom transfer reactions.
The group aims to make impactful contributions to worldwide efforts in developing affordable clean energy. Our main focus is understanding the photophysical and photochemical processes that dictate efficiency in solar fuel producing systems. Our advanced time-resolved optical spectroscopy techniques give us the insights necessary to understand the influence of key physical and chemical parameters, and optimize material synthesis with strong rational.
We study the biophysics of cells at the single molecule and single cell levels. Our studies address fundamental cell biology questions that have many practical applications from smart DNA-based biomaterials to cell screening technology.
The McNeil Research Group conducts chemistry education research by using our classrooms as our laboratories. We study the challenges associated with teaching and learning university-level chemistry and develop innovative learning strategies to address those challenges.
The Menard lab works at the interface between chemistry and biology. We use small molecules to study and manipulate biological systems. The group provides a multidisciplinary environment where students and researchers work together to develop new chemical and biophysical tools for the study of living systems.
PlantSMART investigates the chemicals produced by plants and how plant chemicals affect human health. Research themes include: chemistry of cannabis and other medicinal plants; plant chemistry for food security; chemistry of natural non-protein amino acids; chemical regulation of plant signalling behaviour; chemistry of plant responses to light.
The Pranckevicius Group will perform research at the boundary between organometallic and main-group chemistry, with an eye to the development of new catalysts and materials that are based on principles of sustainability..
Our lab focuses on describing the chemistry of medicinal plants and bacteria to investigate the chemical differences between species and samples. This is used to discover biological activities, optimize natural health product formulation, identify adulterated products, and classify species by their chemistry.
Earth-abundant transition metal catalysts that operate under mild conditions will be required for valorization of renewable resources and more sustainable organic synthesis. The Smith research group has explored metal-mediated radical reactions based on reversible homolysis of chromium-alkyl bonds in well-defined organometallic complexes.
Enzymes are large macromolecules that serve as biological catalysts for an immense number of biochemical reactions. We explore how enzymes can serve as valuable tools for the synthesis of new drugs and other high commodity chemicals, and also lead to the treatment of diseases, including bacterial infections, cancer, and metabolic disorders.
A key objective of our lab is to combine capillary electrophoresis (CE) and mass spectrometry (MS) into a sensitive and high resolution method for glycan analysis. As a complement to the development of improved hyphenated analytical methods, we are also interested in devising more efficient sample preparation techniques. We also explore the roles played by glycans in diverse biological phenomena. Our lab members: investigate the effects of known chemical inhibitors of glycan processing enzymes; synthesize and test new inhibitors; devise assays to explore the functions of glycan biosynthetic enzymes; develop new methods for identifying glycan-binding proteins and their target.
Advanced Microscopy & Spectroscopy
Biochemistry & Biophysics
Catalysis and Green Chemistry
Exosome Biology & Liquid Biopsy
Chemistry, Engineering, Health Sciences
Glycobiology and Glycomics
Neural Chemical Biology & Mechano-Biology
Plant & Natural Product
Solar Energy Storage
Theoretical & Computational Chemistry
Opportunities for Undergraduate Students
The Department of Chemistry offers many opportunities for undergraduate students to gain valuable research experience. You can participate in research either as a volunteer research assistant, or through Directed Studies and/or Honours opportunities. Explore your options below.
The opportunity: Get experience helping faculty members, graduate students, or a mixture of the two, with their research projects. This is a non-paid, non-credit based opportunity that will give you the chance to participate in various elements of conducting research. The duties and length of the opportunity are determined by the supervising faculty member.
Prerequisites: Typically, no experience is required, but some research labs may require students to have previous research experience. Some opportunities may also require the completion of certain courses prior to volunteering. Consult your program advisor or a faculty member for more information.
The opportunity: Carry out your own research project under the supervision of a faculty member in chemistry or biochemistry and molecular biology. You can earn three or six credits, depending upon the project.
The opportunity: Investigate a research problem under the supervision of a faculty member. You will be involved in all aspects of the research process, such as research design, data collection, and data analysis. Presenting findings is another key component of research, and this option requires completion of a written report, a public poster presentation, and a public thesis defence.
Completion of the undergraduate honours thesis contributes six credits towards your degree, but does not guarantee an honours distinction. To receive the honours distinction, you will also need to satisfy all of the graduation requirements.
Prerequisites: Fourth-year standing, a minimum average of 76% in all courses taken related to the major, a research supervisor, and approval of the Chemistry Curriculum Committee. Consult your program advisor or a faculty member for more information.
Awards for Undergraduate Students
The Department of Chemistry and the Irving K. Barber Faculty of Science offer a number of awards to support exceptional research experiences for students at UBC’s Okanagan campus.
The Undergraduate Research Awards (URA), NSERC Undergraduate Student Research Awards (USRA), as well as other awards available through the department, all provide opportunities for undergraduate students to pursue innovative and original research as part of their learning experience.
Our Partners and Donors
Together, we are making a difference, locally and around the world. Our partners and donors allow us to carry out our mission of helping the community, making advancements in psychological research, and providing quality education in the field of psychology.
If you are interested in becoming a partner or donor, we would love to hear from you.