PROfile: Professor Charles Wong

Professor Charles Wong has been at the University of Winnipeg (U of W) for 10 years and finished his Canada Research Chair in Ecotoxicology earlier this summer.

Wong also has an endowed visiting professorship at Jinan University in Guangzhou, China. Other places Wong has engagements with are the Costa Rica Institute of Technology, the Children’s Hospital Research Association of Manitoba and two departments of the University of Manitoba.

Alongside the multiple hats he wears, one is that of competitive archer. From Aug. 14 to 18, he represented the United States at the World Archery Masters Championship in Lausanne, Switzerland.

“I’ve just finished my third full season,” he says. “I was invited a while back, and my coach and I rearranged the rest of my season to accommodate this event.”

Wong ran into some issues prior to the competition but says the camaraderie and support in the archery community is amazing.

“The airlines lost my equipment, and they didn’t find it until the day after competition was over. The folks at the venue, and my fellow competitors, all stepped in to help – offering equipment and parts to put and tune a makeshift bow together, so I could at least compete,” he says.

Wong says the outdoor event was difficult for everyone, since there were heavy, gusty and tricky winds.

“I didn’t do well that day but managed to blow away my personal record on the 25-metre event by 45 points the next day – and on equipment that felt and acted very different than my own,” Wong says.

“A teammate called me before to remind me that the magic lives in me, and not my gear. I take pride in bringing it to life, at least for a little while.”

Wong finished the event in 47th place.

Q&A 

If you could have any superpower, what would it be? The power of Collective Man, a rather obscure Marvel superhero, who can divide himself into five people acting independently.  This might make it easier to get everything done.

What is your favourite thing about yourself? In my professional career, I’m fortunate to be able to work with talented and hardworking students in my research group. Over the 16 years of my independent career, they’ve collectively won 19 fellowships and 29 best-presentation awards at scientific conferences, from institutional awards to those on the international level.

I’m equally fortunate to be able to work with good coaches and teammates in my athletic career.

What was the worst grade you got in university, and do you remember which course it was? In my last undergraduate term, I got a D in a one-unit add-on to a microeconomics course I’d already taken that would convert that class into a required course in my major, civil and environmental engineering at MIT. I had a schedule conflict with a lab class I was TA-ing, and (I) managed to squeak by and graduate!

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