Flohr uses U of L foundation as a springboard

University of Lethbridge alumnus Lee Flohr (BSc '07) took what he called the trip of a lifetime recently to Shanghai, China, rubbing elbows with world-class science journalists and high-profile, Nobel prize winning scientists from Britain and China.

Flohr is a former Lethbridge resident who recently graduated from Humber College's post-graduate broadcast journalism program. He now lives and works in Toronto as a freelance journalist. His work has appeared on Discovery Channel's Daily Planet, where he contributed to the Science News and Weird Planet program segments.

Flohr was one of two North American science writers to attend a conference on climate change and environmental issues supported by the British Council, a not-for profit organization that promotes the United Kingdom's cultural relations and educational opportunities to a worldwide audience.

Through a competition promoted by the Canadian Science Writers' Association, Flohr and University of Calgary PhD alumnus Alyson Kenward, were able to meet colleagues from more than 20 countries, spend time at the British pavilion in Shanghai and take a number of trips to nearby cities to see examples of green urban planning.

Flohr says the one theme that cut across the groups in attendance was perception.

"We all have a really bad perception of what other countries are doing. China, for example, is generally painted by North American media as thwarting climate change," he says. "But when you speak to the researchers and see what they are concerned about and working on, they are doing a lot."

Flohr comes by his curiosity honestly, and refined it in Hepler Hall as a student researcher.

"I did three independent studies projects with Dr. Olga Kovalchuk – and learned from Dr. Igor Kovalcuk too – and because they are doing such current research, the work I did with them is directly applicable to what I am doing now," says Flohr. "It was a fantastic opportunity, and really helped set the stage for working in the science journalism field."

Among the projects Flohr worked on in Kovalchuk's lab was the testing of a common weed, plantago major, for its reputed medicinal properties.