At UBC Science, outstanding scientists and students strive to unravel the principles that underlie our universe - from the subatomic to the macroscopic, from pure mathematics to biotechnology, from ecosystems to galactic systems. Through the breadth and depth of our academic endeavours and the calibre of the people who make up our community, we take pride in discovering new scientific knowledge and preparing Canada’s and the world’s next generation of scientists.

A diverse range of highly ranked programs

With access to master’s and doctoral degrees through nine departments and 350 research groups, our graduate students work with world-class faculty to explore the basic sciences, and to pursue interdisciplinary and applied research across departments and units. UBC’s research excellence in environmental science, math, physics, plant and animal science, computer science, geology and biology is consistently rated best in Canada by international and national ranking agencies.

Committed to outstanding graduate training

UBC Science houses a wide range of prestigious NSERC Collaborative Research and Training Experience and related industry programs: from atmospheric aerosols to high-throughput biology, from biodiversity research and ecosystems services to plant cell wall biosynthesis, from quantum science and new materials to applied geochemistry. The options for enriched graduate training in industry related fields are almost endless.

World-class research infrastructure

Our affiliated institutes and centres include UBC's Michael Smith Laboratories, Stewart Blusson Quantum Matter Institute, Biodiversity Research Centre, Life Sciences Institute, Pacific Institute for the Mathematical Sciences, Mineral Deposit Research Unit, and TRIUMF, Canada’s national laboratory for particle and nuclear physics.

Top research talent

UBC Science boasts more than 50 Canada Research Chairs, 12 fellows of the Royal Society of London, and has been home to two Nobel Laureates. Our graduate students have won 15 prestigious Vanier Scholarships.

A diverse, supportive community of scholars

UBC Science is committed to excellence, collaboration and inclusion. Women account for 41 per cent of the Faculty's graduate enrollments, and the percentage of international students has increased to 50 per cent over the past decade.

To nurture an exceptional scientific learning and research environment for the people of British Columbia, Canada, and the world.

Research Centres

Biodiversity, Evolution and Ecology

Computational Sciences and Mathematics

Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences

Genomics and Biological Sciences

Human-Computer Interaction

Life Sciences

Chemistry and Materials Science



Research Facilities

Designed to inspire collaboration and creativity across disciplines, the new Earth Sciences Building (ESB) lies at the heart of the science precinct on UBC’s Vancouver Campus. The $75 million facility is home to Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences, Statistics, the Pacific Institute of the Mathematical Sciences, and the dean’s office of the Faculty of Science. ESB’s updated teaching facilities will help Canada meet the challenges of a transforming and growing resource sector. Just as importantly, the researchers and students working and learning in the new facility will offer a valuable flow of well-trained talent, new ideas, and fresh professional perspectives to industry.

Research Highlights

Receiving more than $120 million in annual research funding, UBC Science faculty members conduct top-tier research in the life, physical, earth and computational sciences. Their discoveries help build our understanding of natural laws—driving insights into sustainability, biodiversity, human health, nanoscience and new materials, probability, artificial intelligence, exoplanets and a wide range of other areas.

UBC Science boasts 50 Canada Research Chairs and 10 fellows of the Royal Society of London, and has been home to two Nobel Laureates. 

Graduate Degree Programs

Research Supervisors in Faculty

or browse the list of faculty members in various academic units. You may click each unit to view faculty members appointed in that unit. View the full faculty member directory for more search and filter options.
Name Academic Unit(s) Research Interests
Ward, Michael Jeffrey Department of Mathematics Applied analysis, singular perturbations, reaction-diffusion theory, mathematical modeling and scientific compution, nonlinear dynamics and applied partial differential equations
Wasteneys, Geoff Department of Botany Plant biology; Cell signaling; Hormones and Growth Factors; Molecular Genetics; Cellulose Biosynthesis; Microtubule Dynamics and Organization; Plant Cell Walls in Cell Shape and Tissue Function; Plant Growth and Development; Plant Responses to Abiotic Stress; Trafficking of Membrane Receptors and Transporters
Waterman, Stephanie Department of Earth, Ocean & Atmospheric Sciences Atmospheric sciences; Oceanography; Arctic oceanography; geophysical fluid dynamics; Jets, eddies & scale interactions; Ocean dynamics; Oceanic processes; Scale interactions; Southern ocean dynamics; Western boundary current jets
Watson, Liam Department of Mathematics Topology; Low-dimensional topology; Khovanov homology; Heegaard Floer homology
Wei, Juncheng Department of Mathematics Mathematics and statistics; Mathematics; applied and geometric analysis; Mathematical biology; Nonlinear partial differential equations; reaction-diffusion systems; singular perturbations and concentration phenomena; singularity formations in fluids
Weis, Dominique Department of Earth, Ocean & Atmospheric Sciences Geology; Earth Structure and Composition; Geodynamics; Chemical Pollutants; Earth Sciences; Environmental geochemistry; Geochemistry; High-precision/sensitivity geochemical analyses; Indigenous studies; Oceanic islands and mantle plumes
Welch, William Department of Statistics , Design of experiments, experiments with computer models, data mining, drug discovery, quality improvement
Wetton, Brian Department of Mathematics Scientific computing, fluid mechanics
White, Rachel Department of Earth, Ocean & Atmospheric Sciences Atmospheric dynamics and thermodynamics; Climate modelling; Atmospheric dynamics; climate change; Extreme weather events; Climate impacts
Whitehead, Lorne Department of Physics & Astronomy Atomic, molecular, and optical physics; Education; Economics and business administration; Applied optics; Applied physics, especially novel geometrical approaches; Illuminating engineering and display technology; Optimizing innovation and enhancing learning within higher education
Whitlock, Michael Department of Zoology Evolutionary Genetics; Population Genetics
Whitton, Jeannette Department of Botany Speciation (evolutionary processes); Plant developmental and reproductive biology; Plant evolutionary ecology; Evolution of asexuality; Evolution and consequences of polyploidy; Speciation/ diversification; Species at risk in Canada; Conservation policy
Williams, Ben Department of Mathematics Topology; Algebra; Algebraic topology; Motivic homotopy theory; A1 homotopy theory
Withers, Stephen Department of Chemistry Enzymes and Proteins; Blood Substitutes; Organic Molecules and Biomolecules; Biological and Biochemical Mechanisms; Diabetes; Drug development; enzyme inhibition; carbohydrates; glycobiology; metagenomics; directed evolution
Wolf, Michael Department of Chemistry materials chemistry; polymer light-emitting devices; chemical sensors; conductive polymers, Electronic or photonic polymers
Wood, Frank Donald Department of Computer Science Computer and information sciences; Artificial Intelligence; Computational neuroscience; Machine Learning; Natural Language Processing; New models and inference algorithms; Probabilistic models; Probabilistic programming; Probabilistic programming systems; Reinforcement learning; Robotics; vision
Wu, Lang Department of Statistics Biostatistics
Xiao, Robert Department of Computer Science human-computer interaction; Virtual/augmented reality
Ye, Ziliang Department of Physics & Astronomy Physical sciences; Nanomaterials; Optics and Photonics
Yi, Kwang Moo Department of Computer Science Computer vision in artificial intelligence; Pattern recognition and artificial vision; Computer Vision; Machine Learning; Visual Geometry; Astronomy; Biomedical imaging
Yilmaz, Ozgur Department of Mathematics Mathematical problems related to analog-to-digital conversion, blind source separation, sparse approximations and compressed sensing, and applications in seismic signal processing
Yoon, Dongwook Department of Computer Science Computer and information sciences; Computer Science and Statistics; design; Educational Technologies; Augmented reality; computer supported cooperative work (CSCW); Educational technology; Human-computer interaction (HCI); Interaction and interface design; Multimodal interaction; Speech, touch, multitouch, stylus, gesture, mixed-reality, 3d interaction; Virtual Reality
Young, Jeff Department of Physics & Astronomy Photonics, condensed matter physics, atomic, molecular, and optical physics, photonic crystals, nonlinear optics, spintronics
Zahl, Joshua Department of Mathematics Combinatorics and discrete mathematics; Lie groups, harmonic and Fourier analysis; Harmonic Analysis; Combinatorics; Discrete and Combinatorial Geometry
Zamar, Ruben Department of Statistics Data mining and text mining, Modeling data quality, Development of new robust procedures, Statistical computing, Bioinformatics


Recent Publications

This is an incomplete sample of recent publications in chronological order by UBC faculty members with a primary appointment in the Faculty of Science.


Recent Thesis Submissions

Doctoral Citations

A doctoral citation summarizes the nature of the independent research, provides a high-level overview of the study, states the significance of the work and says who will benefit from the findings in clear, non-specialized language, so that members of a lay audience will understand it.
Year Citation Program
2020 Dr. Chen studied numerical algorithms for stiff elastodynamic simulation, a key procedure in computer graphics applications. He developed models for natural physical movements that would maintain stability and produce lively simulations at a lower cost. This work will improve the efficiency and accuracy for physically-based computer simulation. Doctor of Philosophy in Computer Science (PhD)
2020 Dr. Xu's research explored the interactions between light and new synthetic molecules. These interactions include chemical changes such as photochromism or physical changes such as thermally activated delayed fluorescence and phosphorescence. This work will impact applications such as super-resolution imaging and display technology. Doctor of Philosophy in Chemistry (PhD)
2020 Dr. McMillan developed and applied sophisticated geochemical approaches to stakeholder- and Indigenous-led investigations of archaeological biominerals and mineraloids, encompassing a large span of human history on two continents. The resulting techniques and data provided key information for addressing modern questions about the human journey. Doctor of Philosophy in Geological Sciences (PhD)
2020 Dr. Hao investigated Ti-catalyzed hydroamination, a powerful tool in the synthesis of various nitrogen-containing compounds. He used this complex to transform simple starting materials into complex nitrogen containing products, which can be used in new chemical reactions to make important commercial products like drugs and herbicides. Doctor of Philosophy in Chemistry (PhD)
2020 Dr. Kunimoto discovered 17 new planets outside of the Solar System, including one that may be considered potentially habitable. She also analyzed her planet catalogue to reveal important information about planet formation and evolution theories. Her results indicate that there may be as many as one Earth-like planet for every five Sun-like stars. Doctor of Philosophy in Astronomy (PhD)
2020 Dr. Wang investigated the genomic mechanisms of speciation, the process in which one lineage becomes more than one. She found that genetic underpinning of plumage coloration and mitonuclear coevolution were targets of selection in a Pacific Northwest warbler species complex. This research sheds light on the mechanisms that lead to biodiversity. Doctor of Philosophy in Zoology (PhD)
2020 Dr. Wong studied membrane contact sites, locations in cells where membranes come together to share material and information. He discovered that a protein holding two membranes together also brings in other proteins that shuttle lipids between the two membranes. These studies provide fundamental insight into how cells use contact sites to survive. Doctor of Philosophy in Genome Science and Technology (PhD)
2020 Dr. Sajadi investigated the electronic properties of 2D topological insulators (TIs), a new class of materials with distinct electronic properties, and studied the interplay of 2D TIs with another exotic phase of matter: superconductivity. This work enhances our understanding of 2D TIs, and will pave the way towards topological quantum computing. Doctor of Philosophy in Physics (PhD)
2020 Dr. Mitchell worked to develop new data quality control and survey design methodologies specifically tailored for electrical and electromagnetic surveys collected in tunnel-based environments. These methodologies improve our ability to image the regions surrounding tunnels to mitigate hazards and map mineralized zones. Doctor of Philosophy in Geophysics (PhD)
2020 Dr. Bowes investigated reductive elimination, a chemical reaction critical to the production of high-performance materials, pharmaceuticals, and fine chemicals. He developed a framework for predicting and controlling the outcome of this reaction that will inform more cost-effective and sustainable approaches to the preparation of these products. Doctor of Philosophy in Chemistry (PhD)