Message from the Dean

Faculty of Science

Doug Goltz

In 2019-2020, the Faculty of Science at the University of Winnipeg experienced another year of academic success in the classroom and in research. Our students benefitted tremendously from the rich experiences they gained through their lectures and research experience they acquired from our dedicated Faculty. In 2019, the University of Winnipeg Bachelor of Science degree programs (4 year and Honours) in Chemistry have been accredited by the Canadian Society for Chemistry (CSC). This accreditation recognizes that the Department is meeting national standards, providing high quality undergraduate student education in the classroom and in the teaching laboratory.

As a school that prides itself with undergraduate teaching, our students also experienced many opportunities to answer research questions under the supervision of our Faculty in the field and in the laboratory. Departments such as Anthropology, Biology, Chemistry, Geography, Physics, Environmental Studies and Sciences completed their senior undergraduate research courses successfully with students giving their presentations in person (Biology) or using an on-line format with ZOOM (Anthropology, Geography). Many of our undergraduate students who completed various research projects during the summer also participated in the 14th Randy Kobes Undergraduate Poster Symposium which took place on September 18th. This year, a total of 33 students presented their work and prizes were awarded for the best posters in 4 categories: (1) Social Sciences; (2) Biological Sciences; (3) Experimental Physical Sciences; and (4) Mathematical & Theoretical Physical Sciences. The hard work of Jenna Russell, Melanie Martin and Andrea Wiebe made this year’s group the largest group of participants to date.

Students from the Department of Applied Computer Science competed at the North American Region Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) International Collegiate Programming Contest (ICPC) at the University of Manitoba in November. The UW’s Wesmen Coding Team consisting of Dilbarjot Randhawa, Aalekh Patel, and Harsh Patel were the top Manitoba team and they were in the top 10 per cent of 170 teams competing across the North Central North America Region, which includes Minnesota, Wisconsin, Western Ontario, Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

Other examples of student success include Sidney Leggett (Applied Computer Science), who was one of four undergraduate students across Canada to be welcomed into the Arthur B. McDonald Canadian Astrophysics Research Institute’s 2020 cross-disciplinary internship program. This opportunity provides non-physics majors with $10,000 in funding to participate in astroparticle physics research. Alwyn Go (MSc student – Biology) was recognized with a ‘2019 Genome Publication Award’ for his paper entitled ‘Altered expression of cell adhesion genes and hybrid male sterility between subspecies of Drosophila pseudoobscura’, Genome, 2019, 62(10): 657–663. This award recognizes publications that make ‘substantial and notable contributions to genetics’ and are among the top 10 papers published in the journal ‘Genome’ (Canadian Science Publishing). Post-doctoral Fellow Dr. Yvonne Dzal was awarded a Liber Ero Fellowship ($140,000) to continue research aimed at improving the survival of bats affected by White Nose Syndrome. Dr. Dzal has been working with UWinnipeg’s Dr. Craig Willis in the Department of Biology.

The past year has provided many examples of successful research activity in the Faculty of Science. In late April, Professors Bidinosti (Physics) and Henry (Applied Computer Science) received $2,451,167 from Western Diversification to work in partnership with Enterprise Machine Intelligence and Learning Initiative (EMILI) to promote machine learning and grow the digital agriculture industry in Manitoba. In November, Nora Casson received funding ($100,000) from Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) for the Water Quality Analysis Laboratory, which is Located in the Richardson College for the Environment and Science Complex. Dr. Mirjana Roksandic received CFI - John R. Evans Leaders Fund (JELF) funding ($75,000) for her ‘Movement, Interaction, Resilience, Adaptation (MIRA): Integrated laboratory for the study of human-environment interaction. Dr. Ivan Roksandic, was been awarded $97,554 from Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) for his Trans-Atlantic Platform Grant for a research project aimed at decolonizing the sacred places of the Xavante Territory of Marãiwatsédé and São Marcos, Brazil. Roksandic is a PI in the project, along with Dr. C.R. Prens (U. Federal de São Paulo - Brazil) and Dr. K. Górka (U. Wrocław – Poland).

In December, Dr. Jaime Cidro received a major award ($3.5 million – 5 years) from Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) for her project: ‘Network Environment for Indigenous Health Research (NEIHR)’, which is designed to support Indigenous self-determination in research. The Chair of Anthropology noted that ‘this is the biggest CIHR grant UWinnipeg has ever been awarded and is a continuation of Jaime’s commitment to community-based Indigenous health research’. Dr. Cidro (Anthropology) was also one of three Principal Investigators on a grant through the Canadian Institute of Health Research (CIHR) to support Manitoba Network Environments for Indigenous Health Research (NEIHR) ($3,837,032).  Their proposal is entitled: Kishaadigeh: Indigenous Self Determination through Research for our Future Generations. Canada Research Chair and University of Winnipeg Professor, Dr. Christopher Wiebe, has been named a fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) for his outstanding contributions to the advancement of chemistry.

Once again the Faculty of Science participated in a number of outreach activities which provides an important educational role for our local community. Dr. Tabitha Wood, Department of Chemistry, continued her work as an organizer of ‘Science Rendezvous’ in May 2019. Rebecca Stephenson organized and prepared for another highly successful High School Enrichment Program in April 2019. Unfortunately, after the decision was made to cancel this event, students were not able to benefit from the hard work of our Instructors in this program. The University of Winnipeg’s external lecture series (Skywalk, Fred Douglas Place, Portsmouth, Wellington) was also very successful thanks to the volunteers who were able to participate and to Jenna Russell for her organizational skills.

Finally, it would be difficult to think of 2018-2019 without considering the magnitude of the problem faced by the UW Science Faculty and Staff when COVID-19 appeared late in the winter term. A pandemic was simply not something we were fully prepared to deal with.  Everyone in the Faculty was forced to pivot very quickly to adapt their courses for on-line delivery. I’m sure there were some small bumps along the way, but everyone, including our students, showed their remarkable resilience in making this adjustment . I am amazed at how quickly and efficiently all of the Department Chairs dealt with requests from the Dean’s office. My sincere thanks goes to them for their calm approach to dealing with a very stressful event. As well as making the Dean’s job easier, they provided my office, their colleagues and our students with peace of mind.

Finally, sincere thanks must go to Rebecca Stephenson, Jenna Russell and Tabitha Wood in the Dean’s Office. Their patience and hard work for the Faculty of Science and the University of Winnipeg is very much appreciated.


Dr. Doug Goltz, Dean of Science