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Dr. Brian Postl and Gary Solar stand on either side of the sculpture while conversing.

DR. BRIAN POSTL (L), FORMER DEAN OF HEALTH SCIENCES, ACCEPTED THE SCULPTURE FROM GARY SOLAR, RETIRED COLONEL.

Sculpture gifted to UM salutes health-care heroes, female scientists

September 1, 2022 — 

A bronze sculpture has been installed on the Bannatyne campus in honour of all the health-care workers who have stepped up to fight COVID-19, and in tribute to women in medical science.

The sculpture, titled A Manitoba Scientist, has been placed on permanent display in a case on the Joe Doupe Concourse in the Basic Medical Sciences Building. It depicts a woman research scientist wearing a lab coat, with lab safety goggles pushed up on her forehead.

The bronze was donated to the Rady Faculty of Health Sciences by Military Heritage of Manitoba. The organization commissioned it from artist Erin Brown, an alumna of the UM School of Art, as part of a series of five bronzes on the theme of Manitobans shaping history. It represents the scientific promise of the 21st century.

Dr. Brian Postl, former dean of the Rady Faculty of Health Sciences and Max Rady College of Medicine, said he was honoured to accept the bronze on behalf of the Rady Faculty and UM.

Noting that it portrays a female scientist – in contrast with the male heroes who have traditionally been cast in bronze for display on campuses – Postl said the artwork supports the Rady Faculty’s commitment to advancing equity, diversity and inclusion.  

“It’s a true reflection of the huge contribution women have made to our college and our faculty in research, in education and in clinical care,” Postl said.

Closeup of the sculpture A Manitoba Scientist.

‘A Manitoba Scientist’ by Erin Brown.

Artistic representations of women in science are rare, said Dr. Neeloffer Mookherjee, professor of internal medicine, Sex and Gender Science Chair in Circulatory and Respiratory Health, and chair of Women in Science: Development, Outreach and Mentorship (WISDOM).

Mookherjee, an immunologist, welcomed the sculpture as “inspirational for everybody, especially young women scientists who can look forward to pursuing their goals and ambition and have a role model to look up to.”

A plaque on the sculpture’s base says it honours “all who serve to protect and save the lives of our citizens in the COVID-19 pandemic.” It includes the Latin word “Adsum,” meaning “I am present,” and the words “I have answered the call.”  

Gary Solar, a retired colonel who made the gift on behalf of the Military Heritage of Manitoba organization, said the group viewed UM as the ideal recipient of the bronze because the Rady Faculty educates many of the province’s future health professionals and medical researchers.

He said it is important to recognize the sacrifices of front-line health workers and boundary-pushing scientists who have answered the call to serve during the pandemic. 

“It takes special courage for people in the health industry to do this every single day,” Solar said. “Fifty or 100 years from now, people can see the bronze and be educated on the fact that this was a difficult time, not only for Manitoba but for the world.”

Postl said the bronze celebrates the dedication of all Manitobans who have fought the pandemic, particularly women in health care and medical science.

“The contributions of women in understanding and treating COVID, and in the public health aspects of COVID, have been enormous,” he said.

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