Three Moments from Spring 2022

Architecture students get ready to build, snowshoeing in Scarborough and growing plants for science

Kamola Khaitova in shorts, T-shirt and a mask, carrying a container of wheatgrass, rows of potted plants on either side
Photo by Nick Iwanyshyn

Seeds of Discovery

Date: March 8
Time: 9:49 a.m.
Campus: Mississauga

Kamola Khaitova, a work-study student at the campus greenhouse, carries a fresh batch of wheatgrass. Each week, staff at the rooftop facility harvest the bright green shoots for Angela Lange, a U of T Mississauga biology professor who needs a continuous supply for her research into locusts.

Located atop the Davis Building, the greenhouse supplies many of the plants needed for undergraduate biology lab assignments at UTM. The facility, which is a bit larger than a tennis court, is also home to some annuals, including beans and corn (for experimentation, not eating), and has a permanent collection of flora that includes hibiscus, orchids, mosses, peppers, cotton, banana and fig.

Locusts, when they swarm, devour all crops in their path, making them an especially devastating pest. Lange and her students study their nervous and endocrine systems to see how these systems control reproduction in the female. Their research – which couldn’t proceed without the greenhouse’s weekly contribution – could lead to new ways to control locust populations, Lange says.

— Patricia Lonergan

Several students walking in snowshoes in a field of snow on a sunny day
Photo by Don Campbell

Snow Day

Date: February 24
Time: 3:36 p.m.
Campus: Scarborough

The snow had already started to melt, but that didn’t stop a group of students living in residence from strapping on snowshoes and exploring the Highland Creek Valley as part of U of T Scarborough’s outdoor recreation program.

For some participants, it was their first outdoor activity in months. Under normal circumstances, the winter portion of the program involves downhill and cross-country skiing, snowboarding and skating. But with pandemic restrictions, only snowshoeing was offered this year.

Alvin Qi, a first-year international student, says he had rarely experienced snow or engaged in winter sports in his native Hong Kong. “My parents saw a photo and were excited to see I was getting familiar with Canadian winters.”

Started in 2015 by Athletics and Recreation, the year-round program also makes use of U of T Scarborough’s proximity to Rouge National Urban Park and Lake Ontario, offering students a chance to try activities such as hiking, dragon boating and rock climbing.

More importantly, it provides students with the physical and mental health benefits that come with outdoor exercise, says program coordinator Laurie Wright. “The hope is they fall in love with an activity and will continue doing it after they finish school,” she says.

— Don Campbell

Daniels architecture students are working on building a station in the background; nine large red panels are laid out on the floor in the foreground
Photo by Cole Burston

A Room of Their Own

Date: February 9
Time: 5:45 p.m.
Campus: St. George

Students at the Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design were among six teams that participated in this year’s Winter Stations design competition, held annually at Toronto’s Woodbine Beach. The theme of this year’s event was “resilience.”

Inspired in part by the “infinity rooms” of Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama, the students’ entry featured a simple wood-framed box with mirrors on all four interior walls, creating an endless series of reflections. They constructed their pavilion between classes during the first several weeks of term, and, in this photo, begin to assemble it for the first time – shortly before hoisting it onto a truck for transport to the beach.

The group aimed to make the station’s limited space seem larger than it was, says team leader Christopher Hardy. But they also wanted to encourage visitors to take a good look at themselves – and see their own resilience through the pandemic. “We wanted people to feel joy about leaving their homes and not have to worry about COVID,” he says.

The project brought together 10 students, giving them a common goal to bond over. But it also gave them an opportunity, under the guidance of Prof. Fiona Lim Tung, to use the skills they’ve been developing as architects – from designing to budgeting to construction – on a very public project. “Working on something we actually get to build is every architecture student’s dream,” says Hardy.

— Scott Anderson

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