Remarkable people

At uOttawa you’ll connect to a community of solution-driven people who are making a positive difference on the local, national and international stages. Our campus is overflowing with curious minds that strive for excellence, the type of people who will spark your imagination and jumpstart your initiative.

You’ll meet staff who go the extra mile to encourage student success, and an academic community that pushes the limits to drive innovation. There are also countless incredible thinkers and doers experiencing uOttawa by your side every day — our talented students. Their passion and commitment to their studies, research, communities, family and friends kindle ideas that embrace diversity and defy the conventional. Prepare to be inspired!

John Lennon and Yoko Ono

It was 1969 and John Lennon and Yoko Ono had just wrapped up their “bed-in” at a Montreal hotel, where they recorded the anthem “Give Peace a Chance.” Allan Rock, a uOttawa student leader (and later uOttawa president) convinced the couple to travel to Ottawa with him to attend a peace conference at the University. Following the press conference the famous couple met with media and excited students in front of Tabaret Hall before asking Rock to introduce them to then-prime minister Pierre Trudeau. Unfortunately the prime minister was not at home that day.

Photo: Mike Daly

Joannie Rochette

A six-time Canadian champion, world silver medallist and Olympic bronze medallist, figure skater Joannie Rochette has inspired both on the ice with her drive and determination and off the ice with her perseverance in the face of adversity. Only days before her competition at the Vancouver Olympics, Joannie’s mother passed away suddenly. Joannie gathered her strength and decided to do what her mother would have wanted — she competed and won the bronze. In January 2016, the professional figure skater visited uOttawa to share her experiences, followed by an open skate at the arena, where uOttawa students were invited to strap on their skates and join her on the ice.

Talking science with Justin Trudeau and Bill Nye the Science Guy!

On March 6, 2018, Bill Nye, known for his humorous TV show that explains science, Bill Nye the Science Guy, crashed the BIO1140 course to talk with University of Ottawa students. Earlier that day, Nye joined Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for a discussion on the importance of science. Our Tabaret rotunda was packed with hundreds of students, lined up to attend the armchair discussion about science and politics.

David Seggal

On October 10, 2017, David Seggal, cofounder of tea company David’s Tea, was on campus to share his vast entrepreneurial experience with students. His talent and ambition propelled his company from a single storefront to a NASDAQ-listed powerhouse worth an estimated $200M. Telfer School of Management students were particularly interested in his business advice and anecdotes.

Alex Trebek

This host of Jeopardy! and Class of ’61 philosophy graduate of the University of Ottawa is now a generous scholarship donor. Who is … Alex Trebek! Indeed, Trebek proudly supports the education of current students at his alma mater. Among his many contributions is a leadership prize of $10,000 awarded in recognition of the academic and community achievements of one deserving student. He also funds two other activities: the Alex Trebek Distinguished Lecture Series and the Alex Trebek Forum for Dialogue.

Pittsburg Penguins

Sydney Crosby and his Pittsburgh Penguin teammates took to the campus rink in May 2017 to practice before playing a semi-final game against the Ottawa Senators. The Pen’s assistant coach, Jacques Martin, an alumnus of the University of Ottawa, regularly shares his expertise with Patrick Grandmaitre, coach of the Gee-Gees men’s hockey team. Several students had a chance to see the team when they exited the arena.

David Suzuki

In September 2015, renowned scientist David Suzuki was on campus to raise awareness of the importance of seeking solutions to the dangers caused by climate change. In front of an audience of students and community members, David Suzuki implored them to elect political representatives who would protect the environment since, as the host of The Nature of Things explained, climate change is the greatest threat facing Canadians. Suzuki was on campus at the invitation of IVote-jeVote, a non-partisan organization that hosts debates on Canadian issues, prior to the 2015 federal election. Read David Suzuki’s call to make climate change a priority.

Queen honours Midia Shikh Hassan for low-cost prosthetics for refugees

As reported on CBC’s website, Midia Shikh Hassan, a Syrian-Canadian studying engineering at uOttawa, received the Queen’s Young Leader Award for her contributions to the educational and health care needs of refugees and her involvement in many projects that tackle social issues through engineering and entrepreneurship. Midia has helped design low-cost 3D-printed prosthetic limbs for refugees in camps. The prosthetics cost only $20 to produce, which is much less than their predecessors..

Richard Wagner

Richard Wagner, who obtained his civil law degree from uOttawa in 1979, has been named the new chief justice of the Supreme Court of Canada. Prior to being appointed to the Quebec Superior Court in 2004, the Montreal native enjoyed a very successful law career in Quebec, where, among other things, he was elected Bâtonnier of the Montreal bar. Wagner has stayed in contact with new cohorts of civil law students, who have the opportunity to meet him several times during the academic year, including during the traditional rentrée solennelle des cours induction ceremony held each year. Read the full text to learn more about Richard Wagner.

Andrew Pelling named one of only ten TED2017 Senior Fellows

Physics professor Andrew Pelling, who is also a biophysics researcher, has been named a TED2017 Senior Fellow, a very prestigious honour. The international community is fascinated by Pelling’s unconventional and innovative approach to biology: he deconstructs vegetable matter to grow human tissues at low cost, a technique he used to “grow” a human ear from an apple. Given that this approach to creating organic building blocks is not linked to genetics or pharmacology, his low-cost methods promise to completely revolutionize the way we repair the human body. To learn more about Pelling, read the entire article.

Soothe

Thanks to computer science student Nikola Draca, a free Chrome extension called Soothe can now shield users from hateful language online. Soothe, which was created by Draca and his friend Angus McLean, relies on a database of categorized keywords to blur out passages containing offensive content. “We know this won’t be a tool to completely eradicate cyberbullying or online harassment, but it does empower people to some extent and allow them to browse with peace of mind.” Read the full text published in the Gazette to learn more about Soothe.

Student impresses at the One Young World summit

Midia Shikh Hassan represented the University of Ottawa at the 2016 One Young World summit, which aims to develop socially responsible solutions to pressing global problems. Midia’s project involved teaching 10 autistic teens how to design and produce sculptures using 3D printers and laser cutters. These creations were then sold online, giving the youth a way to generate funds and integrate socially. Midia’s idea so impressed the judges that she won one of five prestigious Resolution scholarships. To learn more about Midia's idea, read the Gazette article published by the University of Ottawa.

Jolene Hansell wants to talk mental health

In 2010, common law student Jolene Hansell lost her 18-year-old brother to suicide. In 2016, through the Paul Hansell Foundation, Jolene and her father launched the #ConvoPlate project, which circulates plates that serve to start conversations about mental health. The plates are created as an art therapy project in which young people decorate two plates: one that they bring home with them and the other that gets passed on from person to person to start a conversation. Famous individuals such as Chris Hadfield, Roméo Dallaire and Margaret Trudeau are among #ConvoPlate participants. To learn more about the Jolene’s work, read the Gazette article published by the University of Ottawa.

Photo credit: Richard A. Whittaker

Olympic-level athlete

Natasha Watcham-Roy, a former member of the Gee-Gees women’s rugby team, saw her greatest sports dream come true when she represented Canada at the 2016 Olympic Games, winning a bronze medal in the first-ever women’s rugby sevens match in Olympic history. But Natasha’s experience in Rio wasn’t her first international competition: she also competed at the 2015 Pan American Games in Toronto, and three times in the rugby sevens World Series.
Ottawa has the most educated workforce in Canada, a country with one of the top educational systems in the world.

The Canadian Space Agency and uOttawa join forces... in space

Researchers at the University are working with the Canadian Space Agency and turning their attention to astronauts living in the International Space Station. By measuring the survival and function of the fat and blood cells found in astronauts’ bone marrow before and after their stay in space to help people here on Earth. The researchers are hoping to learn information that will lead to new rehabilitation methods, intervention protocols, or medicines for patients who are bedridden for long periods. To learn more about this research, read the complete Gazette article published by the University of Ottawa.

Mission Monarch

The North American population of monarch butterflies has plummeted by 90% over the past 25 years. Jeremy Kerr, a biologist and uOttawa professor who holds the University Research Chair in Macroecology and Conservation Biology, is hoping to reverse this alarming trend by mobilizing citizens who are interested in science. Mission Monarch will combine satellite imagery, an international database, and old-fashioned boots-on-the-ground field research. Volunteers will fan out and search for milkweed or monarchs, and enter their data on the project’s website. This data will inform future campaigns to help preserve the monarch’s critical breeding areas. This is a summary of an article published in the uOttawa magazine, Tabaret: Mission Monarch: citizens to the rescue.

A mechanical engineering student inspiring Indigenous whiz kids

The shattering news of six young lives lost to suicide on the Pimicikamak Cree Nation in Manitoba struck close to home for Danielle Taillon. When a First Nations artist asked her to find a project that would inspire youth in Pimicikamak, Danielle equipped herself with a 3D printer and travelled to the site with her friend Justine Boudreau. Their project? To host a camp aimed at introducing youth to computer programming, 3D printing and entrepreneurship to combat the boredom and idleness that can lead to depression.

A law student’s contribution to Nunavut

Common law student Anna Logie travelled to Nunavut to help young people at the Makkuttukkuvik Youth Centre in Iqaluit learn the skills needed to revitalize the Inuit sealskin industry, which is a significant source of revenue for Inuit communities. Her project encouraged Elders to transmit their knowledge of traditional seal hunting to youth. Afterwards, the participants discussed strategies to promote the sealskin product market while building skills that will help them advocate for this traditional practice, such as video production, public speaking, debating, and inter-cultural communication.

Award-winning novelist and doctor is a uOttawa alumnus

Vincent Lam’s collection of short stories, Bloodletting and Miraculous Cures, won the 2006 Scotiabank Giller Prize, and was later adapted into an HBO Canada mini-series. This uOttawa graduate (BSc ’74), who also studied medicine and became an emergency room doctor, began writing as a teen and is often inspired by his medical practice to write. Always looking to learn more, Vincent Lam returned to school to study addiction and now works in a Toronto clinic. He is also a regular speaker at medical conferences and a pharmaceutical research consultant. To learn more about Vincent Lam, read this text.

Professor Zuercher’s students take part in an extraordinary experience

Christoph Zuercher is a full professor in the Faculty of Social Sciences. He offered his fourth-year students an entirely new way of learning by asking them to come up with peace proposals to resolve the ongoing conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan. The students presented their proposals to the parties involved in the dispute, namely to both the Ambassador of Armenia to Canada, Armen Yeganian, and to the First Secretary of the Embassy of Azerbaijan, Arif Mammadov, followed by discussions with both diplomats. To learn more about the students' experience, read the Gazette article.

Slam dunk for mental health

The clinical depression and anxiety that Krista Van Slingerland suffered as an undergraduate student-athlete motivated her to help others in a similar position. The guard for the women’s Gee-Gees basketball team, a master’s student in human kinetics, co-founded the volunteer-based Student-Athlete Mental Health Initiative (SAMHI) with alumna and former Gee-Gees women’s hockey player Samantha DeLenardo. SAMHI draws attention to the pressures and mental health difficulties experienced by varsity athletes, raises awareness and provides information about available mental health resources. Read more about this initiative for mental health on the University of Ottawa Gazette.

Alumnus is new immigration minister

Canada’s newest minister of immigration, refugees, and citizenship is very familiar with the challenges facing refugees arriving in Canada. In 1993, he was one of them. In 2011, Ahmed Hussen graduated from uOttawa’s common law program, and by 2015, he was the first Canadian born in Somalia to be elected to the House of Commons. On January 10, 2017, Hussen reached yet another milestone when Prime Minister Trudeau announced his ministerial appointment as part of a cabinet shuffle.
Ottawa’s highly educated and creative workforce attracts international companies and startups. The region is recognized for excellence in innovative research and has a large community of scholars, researchers, politicians, bureaucrats and businesspeople.

Proud uOttawa Paralympian Andrew Todd

Former uOttawa rowing Gee-Gee (2008–2011) Andrew Todd was training for a spot on the Canadian men’s world championship rowing team when an accident brought his dreams to a crashing end. Although he suffered permanent nerve and muscle damage, he undertook physiotherapy with the goal of keeping his dream of competing as an Olympian in Rio alive. The hard work paid off: Andrew and his teammates proudly won bronze in Brazil in the LTA rowing class (leg, trunk and arm), Canada’s first medal in the sport since it was introduced to the Paralympic Games in 2008.
In North America, Ottawa is second only to Silicon Valley for the highest concentration of scientists and engineers. More than 1,800 technology companies call the city home, and 90% of Canada’s industrial research and development is conducted here.

Holly Todd

A fourth-year marketing student, Holly Todd has found her place on campus through her involvement in different groups, including as president of Enactus, a group that aims to help communities grow through social entrepreneurship. One such social enterprise is Sprout, which works to improve food security in urban settings by making fresh produce and meal kits available at corner stores. Holly is so passionate about social entrepreneurship that she registered for the RBC CO-OP program, which allows her to work at Sprout full time. Read the full article on Holly Todd.

Proud uOttawa Paralympian Camille Bérubé

Although Camille Bérubé has limited mobility in her legs, as a result of a neuroblastoma cancer she suffered in childhood, she feels unstoppable when she’s in the pool. Bérubé is the only para-swimmer on uOttawa’s Gee-Gees swim team, and the Gatineau native’s talent and determination have propelled her to compete in more than 400 national and international races as a member of Canada’s para-swim team. The communications major competed at the London and Rio Paralympics, and she captured a silver and two bronze medals at the 2015 Parapan Am Games in Toronto.

Women's basketball team

The Gee-Gees women’s basketball team took on a humanitarian project in 2017, building a basketball court in Togo. Under assistant coach Rose-Anne Joly, founder of Canadian non-profit Basket Plus, the team formed a partnership with Leading Youth Sport Development, a Togolese organization, to allow youth to get together and enjoy life opportunities they wouldn’t otherwise have. Team members will fundraise in the coming months. Read more about the Togo basketball court project.

Homegrown entrepreneurs

Noémie Tanguay-Verreau, a recent civil law graduate, is also co-owner (with her brother and sister) of Crèmerie 3 Cornets (website in French only), an ice cream parlour in Boucherville, Quebec. She makes decisions with her siblings, and together, they continue innovating to please their clientele. Noémie is responsible for managing staff, purchasing and social networks. In this ice cream parlour, all the staff are students … just like the bosses.

Dany Laferrière

In June 2017, new graduates had the pleasure of attending convocation and hearing none other than Dany Laferrière, the renowned author and member of the Académie française. In his address to students, he spoke of his childhood in Haiti and of coming to Montreal, where he wrote his first novel, How to Make Love to a Negro (Without Getting Tired), a dazzling start to his writing career. He is both the first Canadian and the first Haitian writer to be elected to the Académie française.
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