The top 15 stories of 2015

A look back at a remarkable chapter in the story of the University of Alberta.


A lot goes on every year at the University of Alberta, but its 107th year had more than the usual share of milestones. We bade a fond farewell to one president and gave our new president a resounding welcome. The Faculty of Agricultural, Life and Environmental Sciences celebrated its 100th birthday. The century-old Arts Building was joined by new landmarks on North Campus and a renovated Founders' Hall at Augustana. We marvelled at discoveries that pushed back the boundaries of knowledge and promised to make life better for people around the world. Here’s a look back at some of the stories that made 2015 a year to remember.

  1. David Turpin installed as University of Alberta’s 13th president
    When David Turpin took over as president of the University of Alberta in July, the whole campus community felt the anticipation and excitement. When he took the oath of office and donned his green and gold robe in November, we knew it was going to be a perfect fit.

  2. 'Pull my finger!' say scientists who solve knuckle-cracking riddle
    Using a tactic normally reserved for snickering schoolkids and embarrassing uncles, U of A researchers settled a decades-long debate over what happens when a knuckle pops. With help from an MRI machine and “the Wayne Gretzky of knuckle cracking,” the team got video proof—and the story became a worldwide sensation.

  3. Poker-playing program knows when to fold 'em
    The U of A’s aptly named Computer Poker Research Group went all-in and won big with a world first: essentially solving heads-up limit Texas hold-’em with a program called Cepheus, a digital cardsharp that plays a flawless game—and never goes on tilt. Yet again, the story made international headlines.

  4. UAlberta to send three Rhodes Scholars to Oxford next fall
    They have diverse backgrounds and interests, but Billy-Ray Belcourt, Carley-Jane Stanton and Zia Saleh have one thing in common: a passion for serving others that exemplifies what “uplifting the whole people” is about. And now they each have a 2016 Rhodes Scholarship to follow their passion.

  5. UAlberta moves up to fourth in Canada in latest QS ranking
    Provost Steven Dew said it best: “The latest QS rankings report confirms what students, faculty and alumni already know—that the University of Alberta offers one of the best post-secondary educational experiences in the country.”

  6. 'Cracking' gluten intolerance
    Hoon Sunwoo saw his friend suffering from celiac disease and wanted to do something to help. The antibody supplement he created from chicken egg yolks could end up helping a lot of other people around the world.

  7. Long-necked 'dragon' discovered in China
    Imagine a Jurassic giant whose neck was half the length of its 15-metre-long body. Wait, you don’t have to imagine it, because U of A paleontologists discovered it in January! Nearly a year later, the discovery is still making headlines worldwide.

  8. UAlberta opens new PAW Centre, celebrates $10M donation
    Is it a waffle cone, a coffee cup or what? Whatever you think it looks like, the new Physical Activity and Wellness Centre became one of the U of A’s most distinctive landmarks—and that’s saying something when the building beside it looks like a gigantic pat of butter and the one across the street looks like it’s built of Lego.

  9. UAlberta steps up efforts to help students affected by Syrian refugee crisis
    In September, the U of A created a new award to support 10 refugee students through their academic program. “We can never forget that our community—and indeed our country—have been built, in part, on wave after wave of immigrant refugees from around the world who found themselves displaced from their homelands,” said President Turpin. “The people of Edmonton and Canada have stood together to help our fellow global citizens in the past and we will do so again.”

  10. Iveson, Nenshi team up for crowd-pleasing Hurtig Lecture
    When they weren’t making serious points about the growing importance of big cities in Canada’s future, the nation’s two most popular mayors made like a sharp-witted comedy duo in a one-night-only show at the Horowitz Theatre.

  11. How funny is this word? The ‘snunkoople’ effect
    Dr. Seuss fans rejoice: there’s now mathematical proof of why you guffaw when you see four fluffy feathers on a Fiffer-feffer-feff. This story piqued curiosity and tickled funny bones from Washington to London.

  12. Make yourself at home
    Thanks to new spaces and residences that opened this year, students had more options than ever for finding a home away from home where they can study, live and spend time together.

  13. President Samarasekera looks back on 10-year legacy
    She dared us to discover the potential to make the U of A one of the world’s great universities. Then she dared to deliver on that potential over one of most remarkable decades in the university’s history.

  14. Golden Bears hockey does it again
    Earning their record 15th Canadian Interuniversity Sport championship, the Bears hockey program continued to show why it’s the best that ever was.

  15. Why you should reconsider that festival headdress
    Artist and native studies professor Tanya Harnett offered a clear, common-sense explanation of the difference between appreciating Indigenous culture and appropriating it.

Read more of the year’s top stories