Composite graphic reflecting the 5 top stories of 2023

Our top 5 stories of 2023

As 2023 comes to a close, we count down the stories that had the most views on UBC Magazine this year.

From how a UBC T-shirt made its way back to the Vancouver campus after some four decades abroad to why the human gut is aptly called our "second brain," here's a look back at the top 5 stories that resonated most with our readers this year.


5. Welsh rugby player returns T-shirt to UBC Bookstore after 42-year ordeal

Old yellow UBC t-shirt displayed on mannequin
Mark Gibbs' well-worn T-shirt on display at the UBC Bookstore after its hilarious return earlier this year

When Mark Gibbs of Swansea, Wales purchased a T-shirt from the UBC Bookstore in 1981, he probably couldn't have guessed that 42 years later, his story — and that shirt — would appear in our recap of the year's most popular reads.

But readers were tickled by the travails of his four-decades-plus T-shirt and the reason behind its re-appearance (complete with handwritten letter by Gibbs) at the UBC Bookstore earlier this year. If you need a pick-me-up, this story by Matt Ramsay (MJ'05) might just make you laugh.

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4. The science of forest therapy

Professor Guangyu Wang standing in a forest, looking up at the trees
Photo by Kai Jacobson

How many times this year did you go for a walk in the woods? If you can't remember the last time you got out into nature, our fourth most popular read might just nudge you in that direction.

According to UBC forestry professor Guangyu Wang (PhD’09), there's a lot of science to back up the health benefits of a forested stroll. In this Q&A with Wang, who is a member of UBC's Multidisciplinary Institute of Natural Therapy (MINT), he dives into the science of forest therapy and its mood-boosting effects as well as the work that MINT is doing both to understand, and tap into, all of its benefits. 

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3. Diet as medicine

A photo of various fruits and vegetables arranged by colour to resemble a rainbow
Photo by Brittany Wright

We all know that diet is linked to health, but how exactly does nutrition affect specific diseases?

We asked three UBC scientists, each with a different disease focus, for their take on the question. The result: evidence-based — and eye-opening — dietary wisdom that made this our third most-viewed story on UBC Magazine.

From how a Mediterranean diet can help slow down or soothe certain types of diseases to the impact that specific dietary compounds and nutrients have on the body's ability to fight or heal cancer, this article by Rosemary Anderson (BA'74, MFA'19) might just make you think twice about your food choices.

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2. Our second brain: More than a gut feeling

Illustration of the upper half of the human body, with colourful diagrams showing brain and the stomach
Illustration by Naíma Almeida

Coming in at number two on our list of popular reads is a fascinating article about the connection between our brain and gut.

It's a link that might not surprise you if you've ever felt "butterflies" in your stomach, indulged in "emotional eating," or had a "gut feeling" (which is probably all of us).

But how exactly are the brain and gut connected? And why is the latter viewed as our "second brain"? This article by Heather Gerrie delves into the significant "crosstalk" that happens along the gut-brain axis, and why it's one of the most powerful relationships in our body.

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1. Should Canada dispense with its tipping culture?

Composite image of all six UBC experts, arranged in a grid structure
UBC experts from six disciplines tackled our most popular Collective Wisdom question of the year.

To tip or not to tip — that is the question…that garnered the most attention among all of our stories in 2023.

With how prevalent tipping has become in recent years (at least in Canada), we wanted to know: Does the current tipping culture make sense for the times we’re in? 

Turns out, you wanted to know the answer to this question as well. 

Read on for some incisive insights from six UBC experts in this Collective Wisdom Q&A that topped our list of the year's best reads. 

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