Media Release | Dec. 19, 2012

The Next Big Thing: UBC researchers predict game-changers that could rock our world

Almost every year since 2006, UBC Reports, the monthly news publication for the University of British Columbia, has asked a small number of experts to identify intriguing developments that may transform your world.

From medical maggots to ethical robots, this year’s ten predictions are an eclectic mix of the unusual, unexpected, and hopeful. They are available at [ ] and include:

  • Medical maggots: could larvae be more effective than drugs at treating wounds? An old treatment has a revival.
  • Ethical robots: researchers at UBC have their sights set on building robots that know how they should and should not behave
  • The eradication of brain injuries: a trifecta of neuroscience technologies is creating new hope for patients
  • Defeating diabetes in 10 years: a few diabetes patients have been freed of insulin injections thanks to cell transplants. Stem cell research is charting a whole new course to eliminate diabetes
  • Efficient, abundant solar energy: UBC engineering and chemistry researchers highlight two alternatives to current solar technology
  • Revolutionizing road design: researchers at UBC’s Okanagan campus are tackling the high costs of highway construction
  • Less beef, more crops: Planetary water shortages, plus a demand for more food, mean farmers will need to produce less beef for export
  • Free, open, massive university: the advent of the MOOC, massive open online courses, is challenging traditional university learning
  • Cloud U – beyond bricks and mortar: three UBC leaders talk about the brave new world awaiting our students in a few years

Editors: The author on the topic of medical maggots is out of the country until January; researchers for ethical robots and revolutionizing road design are not available Dec 25-Jan.1; other researchers have some availability throughout the holidays. Contact Randy Schmidt at or 604.828.0787 prior to Jan 1, or leave a request on the UBC Public Affairs Info Line at 604.822.4636

To view our past Next Big Thing editions:

2010: [On hiatus, due to the Vancouver 2010 Games]
2011 edition:

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Randy Schmidt
UBC Public Affairs

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