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10 ways UM research is making a global impact

December 11, 2023 — 

When it comes to the world stage of research and innovation UM experts lead the way in 2023. From the climate crisis, to partnering with NASA and answering the age-old question, “Did dinosaurs have lips?” we were there and blazing a trail. Here are just some ways UM researchers are changing the way the world looks and talks about the big issues: 

Advancing agriculture

UM was home to the an agricultural faculty that gifted canola to the world, so it’s fitting UM is at the forefront of agricultural innovation with the announcement of a Prairie Crops and Soil Research Facility  for more research, education programs, and collaborations with producers for more sustainable crop production, and food security.  In April, the Glenlea Egg Facility opened its doors to foster collaborations to advance Manitoba’s egg industry for the next 20 years, while the Ian N. Morrison Research farm in Carman, Mb. will house agronomic programs of researchers, graduate students, trainees and research collaborators across multiple disciplines.       

Out of this world                        

Polar Galaxies are out there and it’s the first time they were observed using a radio telescope. Jayanne English, an expert in astronomy image-making in the Physics and Astronomy department at UM made NASA’s picture of the Day and was interviewed across multiple local and international media outlets about her composite, created from data collected with a team of researchers from around the world. You know what else is out there? UM’s CubeSat, Iris.  The satellite project, led by UM engineering students in the Space Technology and Advanced Research Laboratory (STARLab) isn’t much bigger than a 2-litre milk carton, but it could unlock the mysteries of asteroids, meteorites and the moon.                                                                                                                

Dino development

UM Assistant Professor of Palaeontology, Kirstin Brink, raised eyebrows when she starting talking about dinosaur lips. Mainly,  T-Rex may have had lips. This new information turns on its head, Hollywood’s typical depiction in films such as Jurassic Park that dinosaurs had permanently exposed teeth. Brink and a group of international researchers found they more likely had scaly, lizard-like lips covering and sealing their mouths.  

UM at the pinnacle of science breakthroughs

In the ever-evolving landscape of scientific breakthroughs, the Faculty of Science  has once again proven to be a center of pioneering research and innovation. See how in this list of discoveries and scientific insights.

Making medical history

It’s been 140 years since the Manitoba Medical College, Western Canada’s first medical school, was founded in 1883. During that time, UM not only changed the lives of their patients,  UM medical researchers at Max Rady College of Medicine made their mark on healthcare and breakthroughs in disease treatment. 

Temperatures rising                                                        

The effects of climate change can be seen everywhere but UM has researchers on both poles are making incredible discoveries in this area including Dorthe Dahl-Jensen, UM professor and Canada Excellence Research Chair in Arctic Ice, Freshwater-Marine Coupling and Climate Change. She led a team of international researchers drilling through 2670 m of 120,000 year old ice and reaching bedrock in Greenland. The ice is indeed melting at the base, signaling trouble ahead. While Julienne StroeveRobbie Mallett & Vishnu Nandan have noted the faster warming in the Antarctic will be responsible for a global 2 C temperature rise being reached eight years earlier than if the region were warming at the average global rate. Together, these researchers are getting the attention of climate researchers around the world.

AI is our future, what will we do with it?

Over at Asper School of Business, assistant professor, Wenxi Pu, is exploring artificial intelligence (AI) in his teaching and research,  curious about the implications of this evolving, sometimes disruptive, technology. Neil McArthur, Director of the Centre for Professional and Applied Ethics explored the idea of Gods in the machine and the emergence of sects devoted to the worship of artificial intelligence (AI). He also made Maclean’s, with his piece, “The Sexbots are coming”, exploring the rise of AI chat bots designed for relationships, sex and intimacy.

Research through an Indigenous lens

For 11 years, the Indigenous Health Research Symposium has looked to build relationships and recognize gaps in care. It brings Elders, community members, students, researchers and representatives of Indigenous organizations together to share knowledge. At the same time, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) is partnering with NCTR to invest $6 million to support Indigenous-led research across Canada, while Laura Forsythe, who is Red River Metis, garnered a University of Manitoba Distinguished Dissertation award for her research as a graduate student which identified 11 points of erasure experienced by Métis women during their time in academia.

Pull up a chair at the research table

2023 saw a number of announcements around endowed or sponsored research Chairs. Most recently Martin Entz, was named the Jarislowsky Chair in Natural Systems Agriculture for Climate Solutions. He will consult with farmers and policy makers about new and current knowledge on climate-smart practices and research how to adapt current agri-food systems to meet those practices. Jacquie Ripat was named the endowed chair in Technology for Assisted Living, supported by UM and the HSC Foundation. She’ll focus on creating research opportunities and testing new innovations in the growing field of technology-assisted living, while Jim House was named the new Manitoba Strategic Research Chair in Sustainable Protein. House will lead original research in sustainable protein innovation in alignment with the Manitoba Protein Advantage Strategy.

Legal Eagles in research

The Faculty of Law recently published its inaugural Research Report magazine in the spring to showcase research, books, and articles of professors, recent graduate students and award-winning researchers. There is an emphasis on the collaborative nature of legal research, how the faculty is fostering interdisciplinary dialogue and partnerships within and beyond the legal community and the ultimate goal is to “ignite conversations, and inspire action.”

Research at the University of Manitoba is partially supported by funding from the Government of Canada Research Support Fund.

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