Dr. Tabitha Wood, associate dean of science and associate professor of chemistry

PROFile: From military moves to organic molecules

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Dr. Tabitha Wood, the associate dean of science and an associate professor of chemistry at the University of Winnipeg, didn’t discover her interest in the subject right away.

Born into a military family, Wood moved frequently during her childhood and lived in places like Nova Scotia and Germany.

“We moved about every two years, which meant constantly making new friends and adapting to new environments,” she says. “As a kid, I didn’t mind the moves.”

One of those moves brought her to Winnipeg when she was around 12 years old. “I think it was the summer, in July. I remember that first day. It was so hot,” she says.

While her initial stay in Winnipeg was brief, it left a lasting impression. “Based on my previous experience with Winnipeg, I was quite happy to be offered a job here in 2010,” Wood says. “I had lived in a lot of places, but I was very happy to come back.”

She initially majored in forest ecology as an undergrad, but her trajectory shifted when she was offered a research-assistant position in a chemistry lab. “I found myself quite happy there,” she says. “That experience led me to switch my major to chemistry.”

Wood’s research focuses on synthetic or-

ganic chemistry, exploring the synthesis of novel molecules with potential applications in drug discovery and materials science. Her work aims to unravel the intricate mechanisms behind chemical reactions, contributing to advancements in various fields.

Beyond her academic pursuits, Wood is passionate about scientific outreach. “Engaging the public in science is important,” she says. “I’ve been involved in outreach since my undergraduate days.”

Wood is also focused on making science accessible. She engages with students to organize events like the Science Rendezvous. “It’s something I feel strongly about,” she says.

Outside of work, Wood says she enjoys spending time with her family and also likes doing crossword puzzles in her spare time.

What was your worst grade in university?

“Human Environmental Interactions. I think I got a B.”

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

“I have a comfort food that I like. It’s fried zucchini with pasta and some kind of mild cheese and a lot of garlic. I’d be quite content to eat that if I had to choose one.”

What was your favorite toy growing up?

“My Little Pony. I got my first little ponies when I was about two or three and continued to play with them until I probably felt some peer pressure to stop at the age of 12.”

What is something you like about Winnipeg?

“I find that there are a lot of really creative and hardworking people in Winnipeg who create and share things they enjoy, like with the festivals that we see throughout the year. I find it very heart-warming that there are a lot of people in Winnipeg who care deeply about something, and they want to share that caring with other people.”

Published in Volume 78, Number 17 of The Uniter (February 8, 2024)

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