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Think You Know UM? (Part III)

Think You Know UM? (Part III)

Reacquaint yourself with the University of Manitoba with this third installment of surprising facts. And then impress your friends at your next dinner party with your UM IQ

By Michael Symons

Why is UM a hub for sea ice experts? What is the university’s connection to the iconic phrase “the medium is the message?” And which alum was a chess prodigy at only 11?

Find out with our latest selection of University of Manitoba trivia that speaks to a past and present of global and local impact.

‘Polarizing’ sea ice research

When we say UM research has world-wide reach, we mean it in the most literal sense possible. There are currently UM-affiliated researchers on both the North and South Poles studying sea ice to develop climate change forecasting models. For decades UM efforts have helped inform international dialogue about melting sea ice—raising alarm bells to the global community.

And now, with the new multidisciplinary Churchill Marine Observatory, UM scientists can amplify their advocacy and efforts to mitigate the effects of oil spills as the North opens up to increased shipping routes.

FROM CLIMATE CHANGE STRATEGISTS TO CHESS GRANDMASTER Two-time alum and lawyer Daniel Yanofsky [BSc/44, LLB/51], who proved his strategic prowess earning the University Gold Medal in Law and five scholarships while at UM, was a chess prodigy by age 11 and became, in 1964, the first Canadian-raised player to become a grandmaster with his international win.


UM satellite orbiting the Earth

A satellite developed by engineering students in the Space Technology and Advanced Research Laboratory (STARLab) at UM is collecting information on how space conditions affect the composition of asteroids and the Moon. Their satellite—about the size of a milk carton—was selected by the Canadian Space Agency and deployed from the International Space Station in June 2023.

The launch was part of the CubeSat program, intended to give post-secondary students the opportunity to take part in a real space mission by designing, building, launching and operating their own miniature satellite.

FROM GALAXY TO GAMESHOW An alum and history instructor at UM, George Buri [PhD/2009], appeared on Jeopardy in 2017, making the cut from a pool of more than 70,000 applicants. At the time Buri told media he has a knack for trivia “sticking in [his] brain” and that earning the coveted spot was a childhood dream come true.


All Rhodes lead to UM

The Rhodes Scholarship is one of the most prestigious educational opportunities in the world, and the University of Manitoba happens to have had the highest number of recipients in all of Western Canada. A whopping 100 Rhodes Scholars have called UM home before taking their coveted spot at Oxford University.

Among the many scholars who’ve gone on to do incredible things: Tyler Grant [BSc(BioE)/10], of Lyndra Therapeutics, who is doing his part to help eradicate life-threatening malaria, which infects nearly 250 million people annually—the majority in Africa. A unique drug capsule Grant helped develop stays in the stomach for up to two weeks, making it a contender to replace existing and inconvenient multiple doses. The drug delivery system is also being studied for treatment of Alzheimer’s and diabetes.

FROM RHODES TO ROADS TO THE NORTH The J. A. Hildes Northern Medical Unit launched in 1970 at UM, bringing physicians and care to northern communities. Dr. John Arthur (Jack) Hildes witnessed the challenges in remote regions and became an early advocate. This commitment inspired numerous other physicians and researchers to carry on a legacy of care. The unit has since evolved into Ongomiizwin – Health Services, providing equitable access to health services for First Nation, Inuit and Métis.


Teamwork makes the dream work

International collaboration is a hallmark of UM research, allowing for the dynamic collision of ideas and perspectives. UM has partnerships with over 500 universities, businesses, institutions and governments across six continents. One of which is saving the lives of women and newborns in India. UM works with the government of Uttar Pradesh (India’s largest state) via our Institute for Global Public Health. Together, they’re strengthening health systems and developing healthcare policies to improve mother and newborn outcomes across a population of 223 million. In two decades, preventable deaths in children have dropped more than 70 per cent.

FROM GLOBAL HEALTH TO GLOBAL VILLAGE The iconic phrase “the medium is the message” was coined by communication theorist and alum Marshall McLuhan [BA(Hons)/33, MA/34, DLitt/67]. A highly influential philosopher, McLuhan is credited as one of the pioneers of media studies. His pivotal book Understanding Media, The Extensions of Man introduced the usage of several foundational terms into our language, including “media,” “global village,” and “age of information.”


A final note, on being first

For nearly 150 years, UM has been charting its own path. Here are just some of the firsts that punctuate our journey:

• First university in Western Canada
• First school of architecture in Western Canada
• First Canadian university to offer a Master of Interior Design degree
• First Master of Human Rights program in Canada

FROM INSTITUTIONAL WINS TO PERSONAL TRIUMPHS UM has been home to many a trailblazer. Among them: alum Kael McKenzie [BA/2003, LLB/2006], who became Canada’s first openly transgender judge; and Bisons kicker Maya Turner who, in 2023, became the first woman to play and score in a U sports football regular season game.

Did you miss our previous installments of Think You Know UM? Read Part I and Part II

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