SAM Fall 2014 issue

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The Fall 2014 issue of Southern Alberta Magazine.


  • S O U T H E R N A L B E R T A M A G A Z I N E

    U N I V E R S I T Y O F L E T H B R I D G EV O L U M E 6 | I S S U E 1 | F A L L 2 0 1 4

  • Welcome to the fall 2014 issue of SAM.

    We are so proud to share with you stories about your University, and as Canadas consummate storyteller Margaret Atwood tells us in this issue we as humans are compelled to tell stories. Ms. Atwood will speak at our Calgary Alumni & Friends Dinner in March.

    This issue contains stories about students keen on making a difference in the world. It includes stories of alumni who illustrate how the gift of time can make a profound difference in the communities we live, work and play in; and it includes stories about the incredible opportunities being realized at the U of L; philanthropic gifts that take us in new directions; and how preparations for our golden milestone are taking shape.

    Our stories connect us. As we approach our 50th anniversary, I encourage you to share your story with us. Please send your story and U of L memories to


    Tanya Jacobson-Gundlock, Editor


    JANET WERNERYELLOW/STARING, 1996OIL, ACRYLIC, 56 X 47.5 (142.2 X 120.7CM)From the University of Lethbridge Art Collection

    Join our Facebook group:

    Follow: @ulethbridgenews

    Check out all of our publications online:

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    Your official U of L news source:

    stay informed

    story sharing

    SAM | Southern A lber ta Magaz ine | Un ivers i t y o f Le thbr idge

  • CLASSROOM YOGIAs a certified yoga instructor

    and a graduate student at the

    University of Lethbridge, Kevan

    Bryant (BA/BEd 12) is working

    to introduce yoga to students

    across southern Alberta.


    EDITOR:Tanya Jacobson-Gundlock ASSOCIATE EDITOR:Alesha Farfus-Shukaliak ART DIRECTOR:Stephenie Karsten DESIGNER AND PROJECT MANAGER:Three Legged Dog Design PHOTOGRAPHERS:Leslie Ohene-AdjeiRob OlsonJaime Vedres

    CONTRIBUTORS:Sharon AschaiekKristine Carlsen WallNatasha EvdokimoffCourtney FaulknerBetsy GreenleesLee IllesTrevor KenneyDavid KirbyJana McFarlandKali McKayJosephine MillsMaureen SchwartzDana YatesCaroline ZentnerU of L Advancement


    SAM is published by University Advancement at the University of Lethbridge twice annually. The opinions expressed or implied in the publication do not necessarily reflect those of the University of Lethbridge Board of Governors. Submissions in the form of letters, articles, story ideas or notices of events are welcome.

    SAM is distributed free of charge to a controlled circulation list. To subscribe, unsubscribe or change your address, please contact us. SAM University AdvancementUniversity of Lethbridge4401 University Drive W.Lethbridge, AB T1K 3M4Toll free: 1-866-552-2582Email:

    To view SAM online, visit: or

    ALUMNUS OF THE YEAR 2014Lawrence Johnson says the

    liberal education he received

    at the U of L helped him

    become a broad-range thinker.

    features 2 | SPOTLIGHT ON RESEARCH 50 research Chairs by the University of Lethbridges

    50th anniversary in 2017.


    En Plein Air: an afternoon of art and music

    at the Coutts Centre for Western Canadian Heritage.

    23 | SIGNIFICANT AND MENTIONABLECatch up on what happened at the U of L this fall.

    42 | ALUMNI NEWS AND EVENTS Learn about upcoming alumni events and ways to get involved.

    43 | ALMA MATTERSU of L alumni are always up to amazing and exciting

    things. Alma Matters features news and notes from your

    former classmates.


    U of L 2015 Calgary Alumni

    & Friends Dinner, Margaret

    Atwood will reflect on her

    prodigious career.


    HISTORY LIVED OUTTo honourDr. Gerhard

    Driedgers lifelong love

    of history, Driedgers four

    children made a $100,000

    donation this fall to the

    University of Lethbridge.


    DREAM CATCHERFourth-year student in the

    Bachelor of Fine Arts Native

    American Art program, Grant

    Spotted Bull, draws from

    within himself in order to

    express himself to the world.

    32 39

    FIELD OF OPPORTUNITY Donors provide opportunity

    to stimulate agricultural

    research and agribusiness at

    the U of L.


    SAM | Southern A lber ta Magaz ine | Un ivers i t y o f Le thbr idge 1






    50x50502 SAM | Southern A lber ta Magaz ine | Un ivers i t y o f Le thbr idge

  • S P O T L I G H T O N R E S E A R C HS P O T L I G H T O N R E S E A R C H

    Research Chairs are high-profile academic appointments that enable the University to attract and retain accomplished and promising scholars to lead research programs that confirm our strength and shape our future, says U of L interim Vice-President (Research) Dr. Lesley Brown. This initiative signals our commitment and strength as a comprehensive university.

    As of October 2014, the U of Ls research roster boasts 33 research Chair appointments, sponsored either through external agency support (23) or through institutional appointment as U of L Board of Governors Research Chairs (10).

    In two short years, that number will increase to 50.

    The new appointments will come from diverse disciplines. They will be leaders in their fields, nationally and internationally renowned for their research programs. They will come from beyond and from within the institution.

    The 50 X 50 initiative will enable us to grow, strengthen and build upon our existing research portfolio across the breadth of the institution, says Brown. It will enable us to diversify in more established areas as well as recognize our current U of L faculty members who are conducting high-profile research and creative performance.

    And with each research Chair appointment comes protected time devoted to research, sharing outcomes and translating knowledge, and

    mentoring graduate and undergraduate students.

    As a result, graduate programs will grow, and there will be even more opportunities to enrich the undergraduate experience by including students in research programs.

    This initiative will build exceptional capacity across all disciplines and will continue to enhance the student experience, say Brown. The results will extend well beyond campus, impacting communities across Alberta and around the world.




    3SAM | Southern A lber ta Magaz ine | Un ivers i t y o f Le thbr idge

  • For Dr. Brenda Leung, getting sick as a child meant facing a somewhat daunting remedy: a foul-tasting, homemade herbal concoction prepared by her mother that was tough to swallow but ultimately did the trick.

    My mom would always brew these hideous teas, you know, noxious liquids, that I had to consume, but they always made me better, Leung recalls.

    That early introduction to traditional Chinese medicine not only helped treat Leungs ailments, it ignited a lifelong interest in alternative health care and propelled her to study the field at university, train to become a naturopathic doctor (ND), and now, to be appointed the lead researcher and academic in this diverse and growing field at the University of Lethbridge.

    Leung is the U of Ls new Faculty of Health Sciences Emmy Droog Chair in Complementary and Alternative Health Care. The $2 million endowed professorship is a first for the Faculty and is made possible through a $1 million gift from Alberta businessman

    Dr. Tom Droog (LLD 06), whose wife, Emmy, became an advocate for alternative health treatments during her three-year battle with cancer before succumbing to the disease in 2010.

    One of the main objectives of this five-year professorship is to create educational opportunities for health sciences students to integrate complementary and alternative medicine, or CAM, strategies and modalities into their practice, says Dr. Chris Hosgood, dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences.

    To that end, Leung is developing the Universitys first courses on the subject that will be introduced in January 2015: Introduction to Complementary and Alternative Health Care, which will provide an overview of CAM therapies the public are using; and Evidence-Based Integrative Therapies, which will focus on the methodological rigour and scientific merit of therapies that have been more widely studied.

    Our graduates will see patients or clients already using some form of CAM, and who will come with




    4 SAM | Southern A lber ta Magaz ine | Un ivers i t y o f Le thbr idge

  • S P O T L I G H T O N R E S E A R C H

    questions about how they can incorporate CAM therapy into their current treatment. So I think its very important for graduates to have some base knowledge about what clients and patients may be using and how that may affect their care, she says.

    The positions other priority is to establish an evidence-based research program that explores the issues and care practices associated with CAM. Leungs plans in this area include supporting CAM practitioners to undertake research projects by mentoring and assisting with developing proposals, applying for grants and conducting studies. She also wants to establish the U of L as an international centre of study on CAM by developing partnerships with researchers in the field across Canada and worldwide. She continues to foster interdisciplinary collaborations with scientists from neuroscience, mental health, maternal and child health, and nutrition.

    I want to develop models and strategies, and determine how evidence from CAM research can be effectively implemented into health care,

    Leung says. Were looking at the whole body, the mind/body connection, so in order for us to understand whats going on, we need the experience and knowledge from different fields to get the big picture.

    When it comes to better understanding the approaches and benefits of holistic health care, Leung is more than up for the task. Her academic credentials include a PhD in epidemiology and an MSc in health research from the University of Calgary. She completed her ND at the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine. Prior to joining the U of L this past July, she was the director of research at the Boucher Institute of Naturopathic Medicine, had taught at the Canadian Institute of Traditional Chinese Medicine, and held various positions at the University of Calgary. She is currently a Research Fellow with the Australian Research Centre in Complementary and Integrative Medicine, University of Technology, Sydney. She has numerous research papers and presentations to her credit, and has received multiple research grants.

    Leungs passion for CAM is fuelled by her innate interest in holistic and personalized health care, and its proactive approach of improving overall health. Shes far from alone: a 2007 report by the Fraser Institute found that in 2006, 74 per cent of Canadians had reported using at least one alternative therapy at least once in their lives. Her goal is to raise the profile of CAM research and provide viable health-care options for the public.

    Health care should be about the person, not just the disease, Leung says. I think Canadians want more control over their health, and more input into how to address their care.






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  • The horizon for sustainable energy and cancer treatment may soon become a little bit brighter, thanks to pioneering new research being performed by Dr. Nehalkumar Thakor.

    Thakor is the new Campus Alberta Innovates Program Chair of Synthetic Biology and RNA-based Systems at the University of Lethbridge. Appointed to the seven-year position this past September, the microbiologist is undertaking an innovative research program that will explore two distinct aspects of gene expression regulation. The first will look at how to use metabolic engineering and gene expression to produce sustainable energy.

    Humankind is being challenged right now because we are running out of our fossil fuel supply and we need an alternative energy source, says Thakor, who is also an assistant professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. My general objective is to study RNA-based system biology, particularly in the area of energy and environment.

    RNA, or ribonucleic acid, is a molecule involved in a variety of biological functions, including coding, decoding, regulating and expressing

    genes. Thakors goal is to try to use RNA to adjust the genetic expression that occurs in the cells of microorganisms. Achieving that would make it possible to then feed microorganisms plant waste that they would then convert into glucose, a core ingredient of biofuel.

    This type of biofuel, Thakor says, is more sustainable than the most common alternatives currently available biodiesel and bioethanol, both of which rely on using agriculture (canola for biodiesel and corn for ethanol) for their production.

    The problem is that lots of arable land is required to produce those biofuels, and this ultimately competes with food production, he says. He adds that ultimately his research could improve the sustainability of other biotechnological processes, such as those involved in producing antibiotics and biodegradable plastics.

    Thakors second research priority is to examine the role of gene expression regulation in protein translation during oncogenesis, or the formation of cancer. Specifically, he wants to understand why a regular cell exposed to stress such as being deprived of oxygen or nutrients will die, but a cancer cell will survive.

    Much of the existing research on this subject has shown that cancer cells increase the rate of protein synthesis a vital cellular process that regulates growth and metabolism which ultimately promotes the survival and progression of cancer. Thakor will investigate the cellular, biochemical, molecular and structural aspects of the regulation of protein translation to determine how these processes affect the development of cancer.

    By learning more about how protein translation occurs in cancer cells, it may provide us with insights into how we can create more effective cancer treatments, he says.

    In addition to his research, Thakor is also developing two new graduate-level elective courses: one on gene expression in health and disease, which he will start teaching in January, and another on immunology.

    I hope my research and teaching can provide students with a basis of understanding different environmental- and health-related aspects of science and help them go on to become s...