Science One Team

Science One brings together award-winning instructors from across the disciplines, providing a challenging, collegial and interdisciplinary experience for students and team members alike.

Science One Administration

James Berger

Director of the Science Gateway Programs

Costanza Piccolo

Associate Director of Science Gateway Programs

Lucia Balabuk

Program Administrator

Brittany J. Carr

Scientific Thinking and Literacy
Dept. of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences


James Berger

My laboratory has been been studying the physiological and genetic control of events in the cell cycle and sexual pathway of the ciliate, Paramecium. The cell cycle is the central developmental sequence for unicellular eukaryotes. From the vegetative cell cycle, cells are able to enter alternative pathways leading, for example, to mating or stationary phase. Our approach has been to use gene mutations as physiological probes for analysis of cell cycle control processes. It has been possible to elucidate the major cell cycle control points and the requirements for progression through each. These control functions govern commitment to the vegetative replication pathway (as opposed to alternative processes such as meiosis), control of the timing of initiation of DNA synthesis and commitment of cells to division at the end of the cell cycle.

Solveig Van Wersch

I have a background in Botany and Genetics, studying plant immunity in the model organism Arabidopsis thaliana. Among other things, I performed a mutant suppressor screen to look for positive regulators of plant immunity.

One of the reasons I love genetics is that figuring out a genetics question often feels like solving a puzzle, requiring logical analysis and problem solving. Those are also some of the things I think are important in learning environments, and I hope to encourage that sort of critical thinking in my lessons. I’m looking forward to joining the Science One teaching team for this year!

Brittany J. Carr

I am an interdisciplinary scientist who uses unique animal models like chickens and frogs to investigate the cellular and molecular biology of diseases and disorders that cause blindness. I earned my Ph.D. in Neuroscience, where I studied inner retinal circuitry, retinal visual processing, and the development of drug treatments to inhibit the progression of childhood myopia (near-sightedness or the need to wear glasses to see distant objects). For my postdoctoral studies, I established two genetically-modified frog models of inherited blindness, and I am now using one of those animal models to search for biomarkers and early indicators of age-related macular degeneration. The techniques that I use most often in the lab are imaging – immunohistochemistry, fluorescence microscopy, transmission electron microscopy, fundus photography and optical coherence tomography (OCT) - molecular biology, genetic modification using CRISPR-Cas9, and cell culture. The goal of my research is to study the basic science of retinal disease to inform the development of targeted and efficient therapies that will make a real difference in patients’ lives.


Chris Addison
(604) 827-4735

I'm a Chemist. To be more precise, I'm a spectroscopist by training. I completed my PhD in the Michael Smith Laboratories at UBC and used lasers to study molecular vibrations in order to understand the molecular structure of enzyme-substrate interactions. I think of myself as a multidisciplinary problem solver.

Now my focus is on teaching at UBC and I teach in the Science One Program. It’s fun to be a part of the excitement and energy of a first year classroom. I strive to make the Chemistry we learn relevant to every day life, because Chemistry IS relevant.

John Sherman

Professor Sherman is interested in the design and synthesis of organic and biological molecules that have well-defined structure. These compounds are designed to explore molecular recognition and to probe the factors governing protein folding. One project involves the creation of a new system of hybrid cavitand-proteins or 'caviteins' (pictured). These de novo proteins are composed of four alpha-helical peptide chains that are organized into a bundle by a rigid bowl-shaped organic macrocyclic cavitand molecule. This cavitand moiety creates an enforced cavity suitable for complexation of guest molecules while the helices form a super-secondary protein structure atop the hydrophobic cavity. The caviteins are designed to selectively bind guest molecules such as amino acids, to catalyze reactions such as amide hydrolysis, and to help elucidate some of the interactions that are important in promoting super-secondary structure in proteins. A second research area explores the reaction mechanism and templation effects responsible for the formation of carceplexes. Carceplexes are closed-surface organic molecules that permenantly entrap smaller molecules within their confines. The wate r solubilization of carceplexes will unleash entirely new areas of study including applications such as drug delivery. Another project entails the creation of a new family of self-assembling structures (SAS's). SAS's are ubiquitous in nature (e.g., DNA double helix, cell membranes, etc.) and are receiving great attention in materials science (e.g., monolayers, liquid crystals, etc.). We are covalently linking bowl-shaped molecules and studying their aggregation to form 1-D rods and 2-D bilayers. Techniques employed in this lab include organic synthesis, peptide synthesis, operation of and analysis by HPLC, NMR and circular dichroism.


Costanza Piccolo

Stephen Gustafson
(604) 822-3138

My research applies mathematical analysis to gain a rigorous understanding of solutions of (nonlinear, partial) differential equations. Of particular interest are equations modelling dynamical (often wave-like) behaviour in diverse physical systems such as fluid interfaces, condensates, lasers, superconductors, ferromagnets and liquid crystals.


James Charbonneau
(604) 827-2378

I trained as a theoretical physicist under the supervision of Ariel Zhitnitsky. I now apply that training working on ways to improve physics teaching and learning. During my PhD I contributed to the discovery of a new kind of current, much like the regular current you get out of the wall socket, but instead of requiring an electric potential (voltage) to flow, it requires a chiral potential, an imbalance in the number of left and right handed particles in a system. It also requires a giant magnetic field, so it's hard to find here on Earth. The general phenomenon is now called the Chiral Magnetic Effect or the Charge Separation Effect if you want to google it.

My current research has two main focuses. One is the development of learning software called ComPAIR. It's an implementation of Adapitive Comparative Judgement and does a very simple thing: it allows a student to compare two assignments submitted by their peers and decide which is "better". It's simple, flexible and robust, allowing you to design assignments activities that lean on the pedagogical theory that people learn best through direct comparisons. I'm also very interested in assessing whether or not interdisciplinary programs like Science One can break down the pre-existing silos of knowledge that students may possess. I'm working on developing tools that measure the development of interdisciplinary thinking.

Chris Waltham
(604) 822-5712

Chris's primary interest right now is the physics of musical instruments: He was also involved in work at the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory that resulted in him sharing part of the Breakthrough Prize (Fundamental Physics), one of the most prestigious awards in physics.