Devin Latimer, chemistry instructor

PROFile: Molecules and music

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Devin Latimer, a chemistry instructor at the University of Winnipeg, hails from the northern Manitoba towns of Lynn Lake and Leaf Rapids.

His educational experience took a decisive turn when he moved to Winnipeg, a shift significantly influenced by a devoted advocate: his mother.

“My dad passed when I was young, and Mom finished the job of raising us on her own,” Latimer says in an email to The Uniter.

“When it was time to convince me to go to university, she moved across the street from (the) University of Winnipeg to Colony Square to make it as easy as possible for me. She was a saint and did all she could for her kids.”

However, it wasn’t until Latimer enrolled in a chemistry course at the U of W that he decided to pursue the field further. “I didn’t realize my passion for it until I took a course from professor Ken Friesen here, which inspired me to pursue graduate school.”

Latimer’s professional focus extends to green chemistry, where he actively promotes a sustainable and innovative mindset.

“Not only is it often easy to do green chemistry, but (it’s) quite often easier than doing things the old-fashioned way,” he says. “Studying green-chemistry techniques helps reinforce chemistry fundamentals.”

Latimer’s commitment to the environment transcends the classroom. He contributes to The Conversation, a network of non-profit media platforms publishing news articles and research findings online. In one of his articles, he delves into how green-chemistry labs foster a sustainable approach to chemical transformation.

Beyond academia, Latimer is the bassist and driver for Leaf Rapids, a band currently in its seventh year and actively working on its third record.

“We tend to perform mostly at summer weekend festivals, with a show about once a month either at concert series or the best venue in the world, Times Change(d) High and Lonesome Club at 234 Main St.,” he says.

Before forming Leaf Rapids with his wife, Latimer was the bassist for the band Nathan for about 15 years.

“We had a decent recording deal with Nettwerk Records that enabled us to record and tour for a number of years,” he says. “We won a Juno with Nathan just as we were wrapping up that time.”

In addition to his diverse professional pursuits, Latimer actively promotes climate-change awareness in his role as producer of the Trout Forest Music Festival.

“Through some funding that I received from Heritage Canada, we were able to build a solar-powered sound system for the festival, and we’ve been doing some climate-change communications,” he says.

Latimer finds balance in the simplicity of life. “I have two kids, (who) take up about 97 per cent of the leftover time, which leaves me three per cent for curling, the best game on ice,” he says.

What was your worst grade in university?

“I failed calculus on my first attempt in first-year university. But I got an A+ the second time and then ended up loving second-year calculus. So don’t give up!”

What was your favorite toy growing up?

“My yellow Honda SL-70 minibike.”

If you had to eat one meal for the rest of your life, what would it be?

“Definitely ... Indian food. Chana masala, palak paneer, I love it all!”

What do you like most about Winnipeg?

“It’s a city that is more like a small town, and a very multicultural one.”

Published in Volume 78, Number 11 of The Uniter (November 23, 2023)

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