The top 14 stories of 2014

A look back at a year of milestones at the University of Alberta.


(Edmonton) A great deal happens every year at the University of Alberta, but 2014 stands out as a year full of milestones. The Faculty of Agricultural, Life and Environmental Sciences and the Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences celebrated their centennials, the Faculty of Physical Education and Recreation had its 50th birthday, and Augustana Campus marked its 10th year as an integral part of the U of A. In her State of the U address, President Indira Samarasekera gave the U of A community an inspiring reminder of what it had accomplished together on her watch. We shared in the joy our newest alumni felt during convocation, we were saddened by the passing of the U of A’s oldest and proudest alumnus, and we shrugged off a campus cold snap to give the university’s next president a warm welcome. Here’s a look back at the year’s top stories.

  1. David H. Turpin named University of Alberta’s next president
    “It is fair to say that the eyes of the world are on this province, and on this university,” said board chair Doug Goss in announcing the academic leader and internationally renowned scholar who will succeed President Indira Samarasekera on July 1, 2015. If the phenomenal buzz this story generated is any indication, he was right.

  2. Rising in the ranks
    Jumping ahead 12 places in a respected ranking of the world’s top universities is something to celebrate. But doing it for the second year in a row, as the U of A did in the QS World University Rankings, is something to shout from the campus rooftops.

  3. University of Alberta endowment tops $1 billion
    This one can be summed up in two words: Thank you.

  4. Rare mineral points to vast 'oceans' beneath the Earth
    One of the world’s biggest scientific discoveries this year happened almost by accident, when researcher Graham Pearson analyzed a sample of a rare mineral called ringwoodite buried within a $20 diamond. The fateful find ended up proving that a region deep beneath Earth’s surface may contain as much water as all of the oceans on the planet combined. Along with placing high on our list, this story ranked 25th in Discover’s top 100 stories of the year.

  5. UAlberta introduces fall reading week
    When the new week-long break begins next November, an idea that started four years ago with the Student’s Union will give the whole university community a chance to catch up, visit with family and friends, and get a reprieve at a stressful time of year.

  6. Attack of the pine beetle
    The mountain pine beetle’s rapid and unprecedented spread across Western Canada took almost everyone by surprise. But it didn’t take long for U of A researchers, students and alumni to mount a co-ordinated counteroffensive, as this feature story showed.

  7. Curing myths, misconceptions about common cold therapies
    Yeah, there’s still no cure. But some remedies are better than others at easing the suffering, and family medicine professor Michael Allen ranked them—with some surprising results.

  8. Videos help students get honest about cheating
    Featuring rappers spouting rapid-fire catchphrases from pop culture, and skits about what’s OK and what’s “UNACCEPT-A-BLE,” these three clever videos pointed out the perils of plagiarism and the virtue of citing sources in a way that was as respectful as it was hilarious.

  9. Healthy dose of perseverance helps grad achieve dream
    In an exceptional crop of fall graduands rounding out the class of 2014, rehabilitation medicine grad Callum Lavoie stood out for his dogged determination to make it into medical school and follow in the footsteps of his father, uncle and aunt.

  10. UAlberta engineers take major step toward photonic circuits
    The engineering expertise at the U of A knows no bounds, whether it comes to the ingenuity of the researchers or the scale of their inventions—in this case, nano-scale optical cables that could eventually replace copper wiring on computer chips, producing radically faster processing speeds and using less energy.

  11. UAlberta’s next MOOC is here
    Video games have come a long way since the days of Pac-Man and Leisure Suit Larry, but they’ve always had a knack for grabbing our attention—and reflecting society’s views on culture, gender, sex and violence. Which makes them a great subject for the U of A’s second massive open online course, Understanding Video Games.

  12. UAlberta welcomes first deaf medical resident
    When Jessica Dunkley graduated from medical school, she became the first deaf Métis doctor in Canada. But her long road to residency, which eventually led her to the U of A, was a story to inspire anyone with a career dream.

  13. Post‐secondary institutions introduce 'active shooter' education for Campus Alberta
    It’s an unthinkable scenario—and thankfully, an extremely unlikely one—but the blunt messages and straight-ahead steps for how to keep your wits about you make this video worth watching again and again.

  14. Remembering Bill Kent
    At 106 years old, he was the U of A’s oldest alumnus, and undoubtedly its proudest. Bill Kent’s remarkable life, which included helping build the famous Lions Gate Bridge in Vancouver, spanned the university’s entire history, and the lives he touched through his annual pilgrimage to campus for Alumni Weekend are a testament to his own life well lived.