Dal News 2018 in review

- January 3, 2019

Clockwise from upper left: the grand opening of the Sexton Campus IDEA Project; President Florizone at his June town hall event; Dentistry prof and Great Canadian Baking Show contestant Sachin Seth and microbiology PhD student Yana Eglit.
Clockwise from upper left: the grand opening of the Sexton Campus IDEA Project; President Florizone at his June town hall event; Dentistry prof and Great Canadian Baking Show contestant Sachin Seth and microbiology PhD student Yana Eglit.

For Dalhousie University, 2018 was always going to be a big year.

With the university marking its 200th anniversary, the year indeed brought with it big events, acclaimed guest speakers and celebrations that both reflected on Dal’s legacy and strengthened its connections to its communities.

Review our Dal 200 flashbacks: Year of Belonging, Art & Culture, Celebrations & Connections, and Past, Present & Future

But Dal 200 wasn’t the only big story of the year — far from it. We published 581 stories on Dal News in 2018, our largest ever total. It was a year of new beginnings, of fond farewells, of perseverance and excellence. Here’s a look back at some of the highlights.

New spaces, new faces

Twenty-eighteen was one of the more transformative years on campus in recent memory. The long-awaited IDEA Project revitalization of Sexton Campus was completed, including the opening of two new buildings and renovations to more than half of the campus that houses Dal’s Engineering, Architecture and Planning programs. So was the Dalplex Fitness Centre expansion, a bright and bold addition to Dal’s fitness and wellness offerings for students and the community. Other new spaces that opened on campus in 2018 included the fully renovated Dr. William Murphy Dental Clinic, the new Student Learning Commons on the Ag Campus and that campus’s new biomass plant — a North American first.

Dalhousie welcomed new Provost Teri Balser to campus, as well as new Vice-Provost Ivan Joseph, but the biggest change at the leadership level came when, in June, President Richard Florizone announced he would leave the university at year’s end. (Peter MacKinnon, former president of the University of Saskatchewan, is set to begin a six-month tenure as interim president in mid-January.) In late November, the Dal community gathered to say farewell to President Florizone, who also sat down for an in-depth, two-part “exit interview” with Dal News in early December.   

The announcement of Dr. Florizone’s departure was overshadowed by one of the year’s major campus events: the devastating June fire at the Agricultural Campus’s Cox Institute. While no one was hurt in the overnight blaze, the damage was extensive. Dal News published updates through the summer as fall classes were moved to other locations, and looked ahead to what the Cox rebuild will look like.

Bold research breakthroughs

Dal researchers frequently made international headlines in 2018. Evolutionary biologists Yana Eglit, Erin Bertrand and Andrew Roger discovered microbes that represent a new branch on the evolutionary tree of life. Mathematician Jason Brown once again captured the attention of math and music geeks alike with his latest analysis of the Beatles songbook. And astrophysicist Scott Chapman looked to the stars, finding evidence of some of the first galaxies formed after the Big Bang.

Dal research also helped illuminate what’s happening in our changing ocean. Could coral reefs be saved by helping control rat populations? What, truly, is the scope of the global fishing footprint? How will increased ocean temperatures threaten marine life and habitats? Are marine protected areas really that protected? These and other questions were all addressed in publications from Dal researchers in 2018.

Dalhousie researchers also collaborated with the Canadian military to better understand Right Whale migrations, provided new insights on how pain is experienced by First Nations children and youth and launched the Institute of Genetics — the first CIHR research institute in Atlantic Canada.

Awards, achievements and general awesomeness

Recognitions for Dal faculty weren’t restricted to news headlines and article citations. Law prof Jennifer Llewellyn won one of SSHRC’s prestigious Impact Awards for her groundbreaking restorative justice research, while her colleague Jocelyn Downie’s renowned work on end-of-life issues was cited in naming her to the Order of Canada. Transportation expert Mary Brooks became the first woman to receive the Onassis Prize in Shipping; Jean Marshall earned Canada’s top immunology prize, the Bernhard Cinader Award; Sociology and Social Anthropology’s Afua Cooper was named Halifax Poet Laureate; and Psychiatry prof Stan Kutcher was named to the Canadian Senate.

It was a big year for Dal researchers with the Royal Society of Canada — the largest ever group to be inducted as either Fellows of the Society or as Members of the College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists. Dal researchers also cleaned up at the 2018 Discovery Awards, winning all of the competitive categories at Nova Scotia’s biggest scientific awards ceremony. Closer to home, Dal launched the first Legacy Awards, celebrating the achievements of faculty and staff across the university. And, in extracurricular activities — decidedly so, considering his day job is as a dentist! — Dal prof Sachin Seth entered the Great Canadian Baking Show and made it all the way to the finals.

And, last but certainly not least, there was the outstanding achievements of Dal’s students — from the impressive work of Dal’s Board of Governors Award winners to the fundraising success of the Golden Key Society’s Spread the Net charity work. You can read many more profiles of our outstanding students in our Dal News Student Life category.

Dal News Top 10

Finally, here’s our list of the top 10 most-read Dal News stories of 2018:

  1. Hidden in plain sight: Dal evolutionary biologists uncover a new branch on the tree of life (November 15)
  2. Fit and ready: New $23-million Dalplex Fitness Centre opens (May 25)
  3. Save coral reefs by eradicating… rats? (July 12)
  4. Up for the challenge — student profile, Thian Carman, Animal Science (February 20)
  5. The courage and resilience to move forward: Lieutenant-General Roméo Dallaire receives Dal Management's Scotiabank Ethical Leadership Award (October 4)
  6. Dalhousie releases public sector compensation report for 2017-18 (July 27)
  7. Dal announces former USask President Peter MacKinnon as incoming interim president and vice-chancellor (October 16)
  8. A royal crew: Dal celebrates largest-ever class of Royal Society of Canada honourees (September 11)
  9. Meet Dal’s top co-op students of the year (March 21)
  10. Willing to do whatever he can — grad profile, Dave Ropson, Dentistry (May 29)


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