University Briefs

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VIA Rail bombing planner possibly a Quebec university student

By Kristina Charania

Although Ahmed Abassi, 26, is currently arrested in the U.S. for attempting to expedite one of the VIA Rail bomb plots, a man by the same name is registered as a chemical engineering master’s student at Laval University. The university will not confirm whether its student and the offender are the same person, simply stating than someone named Ahmed Abassi is a registered student. Chemical engineering professor Alain Garnier said that he is not permitted to speak to the press about Abassi, who he confirms was not a student in any of his classes.

With files from The Toronto Sun

Swimming dinosaurs will lend insight on present day organisms

After examining 15 feet of claw marks on ancient rocks in China, University of Alberta palaeontologist Scott Persons, has concluded that dinosaurs once swam extended distances with coordinated motion. The fossilized tracks, he suggests, were left by a two-legged carnivorous dinosaur whose feet barely grazed the bottom of the now dry riverbed.

“From dinosaurs, we’ve learned about colour vision in some of today’s animals, and the ancient animals are linked to the evolution of other life we take for granted, like birds and flowering plants,” he says. He will continue to study swimming dinosaurs in order to gain further knowledge on evolution and current life on Earth.

With files from University of Alberta News and Events

King Richard III researchers present at SFU

On May 14, two of the researchers who discovered King Richard III’s remains in a Leicester parking lot visited SFU’s Wosk Center for a public presentation. Turi King and Jo Appleby discussed how they connected King Richard’s DNA to that of a distant living relative.

“[Their] rare fusion of forensics and archaeology analysis in this case yielded a lot of information about the probable cause of this king’s death. He was likely hacked to pieces,” notes Robert Gordon, SFU director and professor of the School of Criminology. King Richard died in 1485 while battling for English throne as the last reigning member of the House of York.

With files from SFU PAMR

Demographic shift causes decline in university enrolment

University of Victoria undergraduate enrolment has fallen short of expectations by 750–800 students for the last two years, hinting at a narrowing youth demographic and soon-to-increase competition between schools for new students. The university’s associate vice-president of student affairs Jim Dunsdon said that Canadian universities outside of immigrant heavy cities like Vancouver, Toronto, and Calgary are suffering from the same issue. According to BC Stats, these student decreases are not a temporary problem — they’ve projected a 48,000 person decrease in the 20–24 age range by 2018.

With files from The Martlet