Reflections on Scholarly Activities in 2018

In anticipation for the Faculty of Medicine Annual Activity Report I reflected on innovative scholarly pursuits and achievements during 2018. It was a year of opportunities. These are summarized as follows:

SCI 300 Project

During Outreach Program Volunteering, I was video interviewed by three students from UBC – SCI 300 to discuss one of my recent projects on the Kwäday Dän Ts'ìnchis’ man. The students were to produce a blog and written, video and audio pieces based on my recent publications.
Of great satisfaction was a recent letter that I received from one of the students:

Dear Professor Monsalve,
I am doing well and I will be graduating in this May, and looking back at all of the projects that I did during my five years at UBC, that SCIE300 project was definitely one of the most memorable and rewarding ones. Not just because the format of the project itself is interesting (to investigate a topic as scientific news reporters), but your research on Kwäday Dän Ts’inchi is also an intriguing and fascinating story which evokes the readers' curiosity and zeal for knowledge. Most importantly, you were so warm, patient and welcoming to us, which enabled the interview to proceed perfectly.
I wish you all the best in your future research,
Best regards,
Ryan Bi

The Extraordinary World Congress on Mummy Studies

Scientific Committee - World Congress on Mummy Studies
Guest Speaker for the “Research Methods on Mummies: Laboratory “session and Facilitator for the “Methods of Mummification” session at The Extraordinary World Congress on Mummy Studies in Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain, May 2018. More than 200 participants from 36 countries attended the congress.

A hallmark of this congress was the ATHANATOS exhibition. Almost 20 international institutions contributed to the exhibition with unique materials, specimens and pictures from the Canary Islands (Tenerife and Gran Canaria), Egypt, Asia, South America, and natural mummies from Granada in the Caribbean.

A Symposium In Memoriam Arthur C. Aufderheide (1922-2013), professor at the University of Minnesota-Duluth, recognized his lifetime of achievements as a scientist. Aufderheide was a pioneer in the paleopathology field in mummy studies. Arthur (as he liked to be called) always welcomed new ideas in research. He made us feel like scholars and left a legacy with his work on mummies around the world.

Kwädąy Dän T’sìnchį: Teaching Lessons from the Long Ago Person Found, the book by the Royal British Columbia Museum describes archaeological, cultural and biological findings arising from the 1999 discovery of the Kwädąy Dän T’sìnchį in northern British Columbia. These were presented by Al Mackie, of the BC Archeology Branch, Kerstin Mackie (Textiles Conservator, Royal British Columbia Museum) and Maria Victoria Monsalve of the University of British Columbia. Other findings in Kwädąy Dän T’sìnchį were published recently in the Amer. J. Phys. Anthopol. (2018).

Women in Science Promotion

Colombian Consulate “Women in Science’
Video conference “Women in Science’. Participation and contributions by invitation of the Colombian Consulate in Vancouver. This initiative was developed as an avenue for professional Colombian women to motivate young women to consider sciences as professional options. Presentations were by Maria Victoria Monsalve (UBC), Catalina Lopez-Corrrea (Genome BC), and Patricia Baquero (TRIUMF). Olga Peña from Sepset Biosciences, Ottawa joined the video conference to share her program experiences in promoting sciences to young women in schools in Colombia.

The video conference event was attended by approximately 60 students from six (private and public) schools across Colombia, and Colombian students in Vancouver and Ottawa. Students came to the presentations prepared with questions. It was considered a great success by students, teachers and the Consulate. The curiosity of these young women on genetic research advances such as potential outcomes of the use of stem cells and DNA modification was evident. The significance of finding mentors was a key message in this event.

University of Los Andes (Colombia) Celebration of Anniversaries

Invited as a Guest Speaker at my Alma Mater’s Celebration of 70 years of the Initiation of the University of Los Andes and the 40th anniversary of the founding of the Human Genetics Laboratory (Bogotá- Colombia). Visiting Los Andes was like a movie in retrospect. I met colleagues and friends from my time as a student, colleagues from other faculties when I was a faculty member and one student from a course in cytogenetics that I initiated.

MEDD 429 FLEX Project

Poster Presentation FLEX Day
Supervised a UBC 2nd year MD Undergraduate student that selected my proposal “Hands-on Archaeological and Historical Collections”, from Entrada.

During my 2017 sabbatical I visited Bournemouth University (UK) where they have a large collection of skeletons and bone specimens, and the Roxie Walker Galleries of Egyptian Funerary at the British Museum. I was able to meet with paleopathology scholars on site to guide me as I took pictures to enrich a portfolio of images of bones depicting metabolic, endocrine, infectious and non-infectious diseases. From this I posted a proposal in Entrada.

The tasks of the student were to:

  1. identify the chronic conditions affecting the study subjects through reference to skeletal and historical samples,
  2. make an oral presentation to their group on the research of the conditions, and
  3. write a short paper describing the steps taken towards their findings and how online resources were used.

I was pleased with my student’s contributions to The 4th Annual FLEX Activity Day (January 28, 2019). He gave a talk to faculty members and MD undergraduate students introducing his research in paleopathology. He presented two posters showing two different pathologies. The posters attracted much interest and many questions. Students described the posters as examples of a “cool project”.