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Donor of the Month: Murray Wiegand

Wed. Jan. 6, 2021

Dr. Wiegand and Nancy

A Lasting Impact – Dr. Murray and Mrs. Nancy Wiegand Support Undergraduate Research in Biology

A familiar face in the halls of Richardson College, Dr. Murray Wiegand has been teaching biology to students at UWinnipeg for over 30 years. Having begun his tenure in 1984, Murray helped shape a generation of budding scientists throughout his years as a professor. As a dedicated member of his department and well-respected figure within the scientific community, Murray has offered his expertise to graduate students and academic committees alike.

With retirement steadily approaching, Murray sought to leave the University with a means to support honours student research in his absence. Spurred on by his wife Nancy, he worked with the Foundation to create the Wiegand Biology Undergraduate Research Fund. After stewarding the Biology Department’s honours program for a number of years, it seemed fitting for him to base this new fund on the needs of those enrolled in the program.

“I wanted to give recipients of fund the opportunity to develop their ideas without having to worry about the financial cost associated with conducting field studies or purchasing lab supplies,” said Murray. “Finding a way to help alleviate the financial burden research students and their supervisors so often face was the driving force behind my idea.”

One of three professors to be given the Professor Emeritus title in 2020, Murray notes the great affection he has for his fellow colleagues and the department he dedicated his academic career towards improving. When asked what he valued most about his time at UWinnipeg, Murray pointed to the sense of camaraderie that exists among the staff and faculty members, “You were part of a larger picture. Other faculty members would ask you to lend a hand with their responsibilities and you relied on them to help you with yours.”

“As a colleague and mentor to students, Dr. Wiegand was always generous with his time and was committed to providing research opportunities to students,” said Dr. Jens Franck, Department Chair. “The Biology Department is immensely grateful for Dr. Wiegand and his wife Nancy’s generous contribution to funding research for deserving undergraduates now and in the future.”

Murray’s generosity has already begun to make an impact at UWinnipeg. Those in charge of selecting recipients for the new funding wasted little time in seeking out the most promising student research projects. Signey Brownell, Quinlan Mann, and Nicole Codere are the first three students to receive support for their individual projects. Quinlan is studying the factors contributing to the decline of chimney swift birds in Manitoba, Signey’s work involves identifying endogenous retroviral sequences in fruit flies, and Nicole is working with Dr. Susan Lingle to study the effects of Chronic Wasting Disease in Manitoba’s deer population.

Thanks to the Wiegands’ support, the University is able to offer a wider range of diverse research opportunities to our most talented students.

“Funds created by UWinnipeg faculty, staff and retirees are an integral part of our awards pool. Those who are closest to our students are part of a unique group of donors who understand the specific needs of our programs,” said Dr. James Currie, Acting President and Vice-Chancellor. “This generosity encourages gifts from their peers, while also demonstrating to the broader UWinnipeg community that those who know us best believe in UWinnipeg’s strategic directions.”