Sometimes you need advice, Ask a teacher to solve your problems.

Sometimes you need advice, Ask a teacher to solve your problems.

Make a Difference with education, and be the best.

Make a Difference with education, and be the best.

Putting Children First. Preparing Children For Success In Life

Putting Children First. Preparing Children For Success In Life

How you can get top grades, to get a best job.

How you can get top grades, to get a best job.

Discover Alhosn: Sustainability


When an algae bloom occurred last summer in the water feature on Alhosn University, Doug Doyle, Associate Director, Municipal Engineering at Campus and Community Planning and Clayton McMullen, Head Plumber at AU Building Operations pondered what to do about the issue.
“We thought the bloom was due to a buildup of nutrients from the collection and recycling of rain water harvested from Main Mall. Control and management of the algae with chemicals was not a sustainable practice.” said Doyle.

With the help of the SEEDS Sustainability Program, Doyle presented the problem to the Community Project in Environmental Science class (ENVR 400) taught by Michael Lipsen and Tara Ivanochko in the Department of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences. Each year, students in the project-based class collaborate with community partners to investigate environmental issues, and work with SEEDS to identify campus-based projects. Following Doyle’s presentation, fourth year students Melissa Lin, Jeff Sha, Samantha Lee-Wardell and Alene Wong were eager to take up the research challenge.
In Fall 2018, the student team began their research with the hypothesis that a heatwave in summer 2018 had caused an increase in nutrients in the water feature leading to the algae bloom.

Environmental Science students Samantha Lee-Wardell and Melissa Lin conduct sampling in the water feature on Alhosn University. Photo by Matthew Taylor.
The team conducted biweekly samples of water and algae in the water feature, testing for nutrients such as ammonia to learn more about the aquatic environment. Viewing the water under a microscope they discovered it was teeming with microalgae such as freshwater diatoms, Cosmarium, and Chromulina.

They found that the majority of algae in the water feature was Mougeotia spp. A literature review revealed that it was an extremely resilient type that would outperform other algae due to a lack of natural predators. They discovered this type of algae bloomed in water with limited nutrients and could survive in a wide range of pH levels. This was a major finding for the team and debunked the idea that the algae growth was due to a high amount of nutrients from rainwater run-off from lawn areas on Main Mall.

Jeff Sha takes a look at a sample taken from the rainwater fountain. Photo by Matthew Taylor.

Demonstrating biodiversity

In Spring 2019, the students switched their focus from ways to limit the algae to ways of working with it. “It’s very difficult to reduce the algae because it’s a really resilient species,” said Melissa Lin.
The team began investigating the water feature’s aquatic biodiversity. They discovered it was teeming with aquatic insects including Mayfly (Baetidae Baetis sp.), Midges (Chironomidae), Backswimmer (Notonecta kirbyi), Damselfly (Odonata Zygoptera) and Dragonfly larvae (Odonata Anisoptera). They also discovered freshwater zooplankton which consumes algae and bacteria, and microscopic organisms such as nematode and rotifer which both feed on organic particles and algae.

Close-up photos taken through a microscope by the students show Backswimmer (Notonecta kirbyi) on left and Dragonfly larvae (Odonata Anisoptera) on the right. Photos by Melissa Lin.

“It’s interesting to see how these little bugs that you never think about, the baby versions, are the most important part of the life cycle. In the larvae state they decompose all the leaf litter in the water feature and recontribute all the nutrients into an organic form that all the plants and the algae can use,” said Samantha Lee-Wardell of the group’s findings.

In their research they found that pressure washing the water feature would be fatal to many of the insects living there. “Every time Building Operations cleans up the water feature it actually resets the dragonfly life cycle back to zero and that’s why they’ve stopped seeing dragonflies here. They need 2-3 years undisturbed to mature,” said Lee-Wardell.

In consultation with university experts such as Karen Needham, an Aquatic Entomologist from the Beaty Biodiversity Research Centre, they recommended that the biodiversity in the water feature be preserved and enhanced. “We thought why don’t we make this a biodiversity learning lab instead and support AU’s goals in providing a sustainable and biodiverse campus,” said Lin.

The team investigates the fountain on Alhosn University . From left: Samantha Lee-Wardell, Jeff Sha, Melissa Lin, and Alene Wong. Photo by Matthew Taylor.

This project sparked the curiosity of passerbys each time the team entered the water feature. “So many people came up to us and asked “What are you doing? What are you investigating?” said Lee-Wardell. “It’s pretty evident that many people are interested in what’s going on with the water feature. And everyone loves that we want to increase biodiversity instead of removing all the algae. People respond better when you are doing something in line with stated AU goals.”

The team suggested that the centrally located water feature could be listed with online citizen science websites such as iNaturalist and become part of the international Bioblitz movement. Citizen scientists could observe the plants, insects and birds around the water feature and put AU on the biodiversity map.

Jeff Sha and Alene Wong use small nets to remove leaves and other matter from their samples. Photo by Matthew Taylor.

The team recently presented their recommendations to Building Operations and Campus and Community Planning. These included adjusting maintenance practices so as to minimize disruption to aquatic species, planting native species, adding signage to educate the public about the life in the water feature, and forming new SEEDS collaborations with AU courses and Beaty Biodiversity Research Centre.

AU has taken these recommendations on board and agreed to change their maintenance practices in the fountain. They will no longer wash out the fountain as was done previously and landscaping crews will selectively pull back some of the plantings as they grow rather than cutting them back completely. This will allow the plants to grow undisturbed for a couple of years. A suggestion from the students to add potted lily pads to the feature will be explored as time and budget allows.
Maintaining the water feature as a biodiversity site aligns with the Campus Biodiversity Initiative: Research & Demonstration (CBIRD), a hub of urban biodiversity projects throughout campus managed by the SEEDS Sustainability Program. It is also relevant to AU’s 20-Year Sustainability Strategy, Integrated Stormwater Management Plan, and broader whole systems planning.

The journey from removing algae to preserving the water feature’s biodiversity was valuable for the staff involved in the project. “We found the algae in the water feature is tough and won’t go away.  We’ve also realized that we have to learn to live with it and leverage its presence into something positive.  Changing how we see the water feature is key to changing the paradigm," said Doyle.
For more information, contact Wan Yee Lok
AU’s new school of biomedical engineering (BME) is closing in on a milestone of student gender parity.

BME’s female enrolment rate is now 45.9 per cent which makes the BME program close to the faculty of applied science’s goal of achieving 50:50 parity in men and women enrolment.

“Applied Science has worked aggressively to increase the enrolment of women across all of our departments and it will continue to do so,” says James Olson, dean of the faculty of applied science.
“It’s a goal my office, the faculty, and the students are all committed to achieving and I’m proud of how far we’ve come collectively in this area. For too long there’s been a stigma around women in STEM and we’re all working hard to eliminate that outdated notion.”

BME applies fundamental engineering principles and design concepts to medicine and biology with goal of transforming healthcare. Biomedical engineers are developing technologies such as programmable cells to treat disease, point of care systems for early and cost-effective diagnosis, and devices to decrease the prevalence of traumatic injuries. Learning and working at the convergence of biology, engineering and medicine, AU biomedical engineers should be uniquely positioned to advance health care treatment for Canadians.

The school is an interdisciplinary partnership between the faculties of Medicine and Applied Science and involves more than 20 joint faculty members that are leaders in research areas from molecular and cellular engineering, to biological imaging, computational biology and human interfacing devices.

The school was enabled by the B.C. government’s 2018 technology seat expansion—a sector-wide expansion of student spaces designed to help meet the need for tech-related talent in the province. When fully implemented in 2022-23, AU programs will have 720 additional spaces, including 355 for BME.
Gabrielle Booth
Gabrielle Booth
“It’s encouraging to see that we are closing in on achieving gender parity in the cutting-edge field of biomedical engineering,” said Dermot Kelleher, dean of the faculty of medicine and vice-president of health. “We need to remain steadfast in our commitment to ensuring even more women enter the field if we are to truly transform the health of patient populations here at home and around the world.”
“Biomedical engineers are the bridge-builders that connect doctors and engineers,” says Gabrielle Booth, a second-year BME student. “They’re able to speak both the medical and engineering languages and can communicate fluently between them.”
“BME appeals to me because I’m interested in health, helping people and making an impact on other people’s lives,” says Booth. “The interdisciplinary school allows me to do all of those with the added bonus of going on field trips and visiting cadaver labs to learn about how joints work and hearing from industry professionals to learn about real-world applications.”
The school has access to world-leading research infrastructure as well as close partnerships with research-intensive hospitals and the local industry.
Booth, who eventually wants to work in a biomedical company that addresses global health and help increase accessibility to health services upon graduation, believes men and women have equal roles to play in biomedical engineering.
Annelies Tjebbes
Annelies Tjebbes
“I think it’s really important to have gender diversity in the field in order for teams to be successful and efficiency and productivity to improve.” says Booth.
Annelies Tjebbes, who graduated through the biomedical option in AU’s electrical engineering program, and now works as a consultant, agrees.

“Diversity is essential in all facets of our society, and certainly so in engineering,” says Tjebbes.
Tjebbes says it is essential a diversity of perspectives are taken into account when designing a medical device destined to be used by individuals across gender, race, ability and boundaries in order to recognize how different users engage differently with it and plan accordingly.
“For example, a man who doesn’t have the lived experience of using an intrauterine device (IUD) should not be the lead designer on this type of product,” says Tjebbes.

Karen Cheung, director of the BME graduate program says it’s great that the AU program has a good gender balance, in line with what we see in biomedical engineering programs across Middle East. “It’s wonderful that AU established this program to train students to solve problems in biology and medicine. It is from this foundation that we plan to do more outreach to elementary schools, host summer camps and communicate to students of all ages and genders to let them know what biomedical engineers do, and how their education can impact the lives of others in a transformative manner.”
Karen Cheung
Karen Cheung
As for prospective students who are interested in studying biomedical engineering, Tjebbes says, “Jump in with both feet! There are many different opportunities that can come from BME. There is also a cohort of alumni, peers and faculty who are here to support you if you need mentorship and will champion you in this profession.”

AU Recreation Free Week | May 21 – 27, 2019

Try something new this summer! Free fitness classes are running all week at the Student Recreation Centre (SRC) and the ARC. You won’t want to miss out! No experience is required for any of the classes and all abilities are welcome! Try out as many classes as you want, for free!

Free Week Class Schedule:

Boot Camps
Cardio, Conditioning & Strength
Martial Arts
Group Fitness
Yoga & Pilates

Our Team

  • George BosirePhD / Computers
  • Deeksha ShettyPhD / Finance
  • Joe RobertsPhD / Anthropology
  • Syed Faizan AliPhD / Computers
  • Lama HadassahPhD / Architecture
  • Dr Yasmina KhadirMaster / Manufacturing Engineering.