Most famous McGillian named

Do you know who McGill’s most notable graduate is? The McGill Alumni Association does. In honour of McGill’s 190th anniversary, the association initiated and facilitated the nominations of over 700 alumni for the title of Greatest McGillian. After months of intense deliberation and almost 60,000 votes, the top 20 McGillians have finally been identified.

Dr. Thomas Chang, BSc ’57, MDCM ’61, PhD ’65, secured first place with a resounding 7,501 votes and multiple nominations. Chang, who still teaches in the Faculty of Medicine, is credited with having invented the world’s first artificial cell. The early stages of his invention were conducted in his dorm room in Douglas Hall during the late ’50s.

“[Chang’s] invention of artificial cells was the forerunner of modern nanotechnology, nanobiotechnology, and nanomedicine,” wrote Professor Satya Prakash, who nominated Chang.

Second place was awarded to poet and songwriter Leonard Cohen, BA ’55. Cohen, a former president of the McGill Debating Union, has received extensive critical acclaim for both his music and literary works. In response to having received such a high ranking, Mr. Cohen said via his publicist that he was “deeply honoured.”

Nobel Prize winner Ernest Rutherford clinched third place for his groundbreaking research in chemistry and physics. Rutherford discovered the half-life of an atom while teaching at McGill, a breakthrough which directly led to his 1908 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. The physics giant worked alongside notable contemporaries Hans Geiger and Neils Bohr to create the foundation of modern chemistry.

The illustrious nature of the list is matched only by its sheer diversity.

“What’s really amazing is the comprehensive nature of the list. I mean, in first place you have an esteemed scientist, Dr. Chang, and in second you have someone from a completely different field: the acclaimed artist Leonard Cohen,” Derek Cassoff, Director of Communications of McGill’s Development and Alumni Relations, said.

For example, celebrity William Shatner placed 14th, and Wilfrid Laurier, Canada’s first French-Canadian prime minister, placed ninth. The field of athletics was well represented, with James Naismith, inventor of basketball, and Olympic gold medalist Jennifer Heil both making the list. Last but not least, the founder of the university, James McGill, came in at seventh place.

The works of these great men and women give a sense of identity to the university, as well as highlight its stellar international reputation.

The winners will be commemorated on Oct. 16 as a part of this year’s homecoming.

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