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Top 10 changemaker stories of 2015

UToday’s most-read stories about people at the University of Calgary making a difference in the community
December 23, 2015
Clockwise from top left: Foghorn the rooster with his engineered 3D-printed prosthetic feet, allowing him to walk again; Dr. Mayank Goyal, left, Dr. Andrew Demchuk and Dr. Michael Hill show a new therapy dramatically benefits stroke patients; a Chihuahua dachshund cross receives care at one of the six free clinics the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine offered for low-income Calgarians; a fish fossil specimen found in a block of sandstone excavated in Calgary community of Evanston; Peter Facchini and his team d

Clockwise from top left: Foghorn the rooster with his engineered 3D-printed prosthetic feet, allowing him to walk again; Dr. Mayank Goyal, left, Dr. Andrew Demchuk and Dr. Michael Hill show a new therapy dramatically benefits stroke patients; a Chihuahua dachshund cross receives care at one of the six free clinics the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine offered for low-income Calgarians; a fish fossil specimen found in a block of sandstone excavated in Calgary community of Evanston; Peter Facchini and his team discover how opium poppies synthesize morphine; Deborah Kurrasch’s work with zebrafish show BPA and BPS cause alterations in brain development. University of Calgary photos by Riley Brandt, fossil photo courtesy of Darla Zelenitsky

When Foghorn the rooster was discovered by Calgary Animal and Bylaw Services, he had lost both his feet due to severe frostbite and couldn’t walk.

The account of how three imaginative researchers from the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine and the Schulich School of Engineering used 3D-printing technology to design new strap-on prosthetic feet for Foghorn touched the hearts of many Calgarians — and became one of the most well-read UToday stories of 2015.

Another university story that made headlines — this time, around the world — was the discovery by researchers at the Cumming School of Medicine of a new stroke treatment, a clot retrieval procedure, dramatically improving the outcomes in patients after an acute ischemic stroke. Drs. Michael Hill, Mayank Goyal, Andrew Demchuk and their colleagues led a successful international clinical trial, setting the stage for the most significant and fundamental change in stroke treatment in the last 20 years.

Students, researchers, and alumni from the University of Calgary brought change in a variety of ways to their communities this year, pushing the boundaries of their disciplines and applying knowledge in meaningful and often surprising ways. Read on for more details about how leaders in scholarly fields such as veterinary medicine, brain health, biological sciences, paleontology, psychology, and more, made a difference locally and globally. All the UToday stories were among the most popular of 2015.  

Scientists discover how opium poppies synthesize morphine
After years of study into the opium poppy, Peter Facchini, Scott Farrow, and Jill Hagel, researchers in the Faculty of Science, detail the missing step behind how poppies synthesize their pain-killing enzymes. Their findings open the door to the development of cheaper and less addictive alternative painkillers.

Routine basement excavation uncovers important fossil discovery 
Five nearly perfect fish fossil specimens are found embedded in sandstone during a routine basement excavation in northwest Calgary. Paleontologist Darla Zelenitsky connects the accidental discovery to a time period following a major mass extinction around 66 million years ago that killed off 75 per cent of species, including the dinosaurs.

World record bighorn sheep captured researcher's heart
A Rocky Mountain bighorn ram, the subject of scientist Kathreen Rucksthul’s extensive studies in Kananaskis Country, is confirmed to have had the largest horns ever recorded. Her research into bighorn sheep in Alberta has given many insights into their behaviour and ecology.

Student-run clinics offer free pet care to low-income Calgarians
Third-year Veterinary Medicine students take classroom learning out into the real world with a pilot project with Calgary Urban Project Society (CUPS). They host six free veterinary clinics for pets of people living below the poverty line who couldn’t afford to take their animals to the vet. The project is now a regular part of the Veterinary Medicine curriculum.

Zebrafish study shows bisphenols affect embryonic brain development
Bisphenol A, known as BPA, is a chemical produced in massive quantities around the world for use in consumer products, including household plastics. Researchers in Debra Kurrasch’s Cumming School of Medicine lab shows that even low levels of bisphenol A and bisphenol S — two chemicals used in some household plastics — can alter brain development in exposed zebrafish. The finding supports other studies that suggest pregnant women should limit their exposure to products containing bisphenols. 

'Molly' and 'Leo' are gentle; 'Kate' and 'Kirk' are sarcastic
Using dozens of popular baby names, psychology researchers conduct the first study to explore sound symbolism, revealing that we give personality traits to certain names based on how they sound. David Sidhu and Penny Pexman explore gender differences and also find people link female names with round sounds and male names with sharp ones.

Calgary's Top 40 Under 40 model community spirit
Exceptional leaders under the age of 40 who have tremendous community spirit and are shaping Calgary’s future with their work include 20 University of Calgary alumni from more than nine faculties in Avenue Magazine’s Top 40 under 40 Awards.

Neurosurgeon receives third honour from NASA for Project neuroArm
For his work with Project neuroArm, the world’s first image-guided MRI-compatible surgical robot, Dr. Garnette Sutherland of the Hotchkiss Brain Institute is recognized with another prestigious NASA Exceptional Technology Achievement Medal. Project neuroArm first made history in 2008 when it was used to remove a brain tumour from a patient — the first such operation involving a human patient. The technology allows for precision microsurgery with the benefit of near real-time imaging.

 

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