#BCTECH Student Profiles: UBC’s Raphael Roccor

If you ask UBC student Raphael Roccor, the solution to society’s unsustainable reliance on fossil fuels may not be found in the engineering realms of solar, wind or hydroelectric alternatives but in the life science field of microbiology. The second-year Microbiology and Immunology PhD student envisions a green economy founded on bioengineered bacteria capable of breaking down biomass waste products into fuels and chemicals.

Raphael is among the first group of students training in UBC’s newly formed Ecosystem Services, Commercialization Platforms and Entrepreneurship (ECOSCOPE) program. ECOSCOPE aims to equip students like Raphael with the skills to translate environmental sequence information derived from studying microbial communities into commercial and entrepreneurial activities.

The program is a perfect fit for Raphael, whose aspirations to one day start his own B.C. biotech company drive him to consider innovative technologies and approaches that can help society shift from the fossil fuel age to the green technology age. The ECOSCOPE program will help Raphael translate his fascination with microorganisms and their metabolic capabilities into new, marketable technology.

ECOSCOPE is just one example of the many ways UBC teaching and research programs are stimulating the high-tech economy, developing highly qualified personnel, translating new knowledge into real-world solutions and harnessing and encouraging the entrepreneurial spirit of students.

Students like Raphael are at the forefront of B.C.’s thriving life sciences sector and that is why the Government of B.C. is investing in their future. Government’s recent commitment of $19.95 million toward upgrading and expanding the aging teaching and laboratory space used by life sciences students at UBC will enable an $80 million makeover of the Biological Sciences Complex. The upgrades will support a new generation of students like Raphael to find their passion and help push B.C.’s life sciences sector forward to new, life changing discoveries.