These science experiences will give you an idea of what it's like to learn, teach and do research here. See career profiles for more examples of careers in science.
experiencesrebecca-courtemanche-true1386042810960systemRebecca Courtemanche /science/students/prospective-undergrad/experiences/experience/rebecca-courtemanche-Sciencesite://Science/science/students/prospective-undergrad/experiences/experience/rebecca-courtemanche-vgl1337286209603cvb.admin1337879153241Navigation LevelUndefinedpage-stateWriting completewriter-emailhours-writinghours-editinghours-codingprototypeNodevelopment-statusattention-needed
Rebecca Courtemanche - Chemistry
Why UVic Chemistry?
Rebecca chose chemistry because “My first year Chemistry professors were a great inspiration to me and the realization that I can relate chemistry to everyday life. The Chemistry department is close-knit and full of kind, motivated and very supportive people – faculty, staff, lab instructors and students alike. Working and learning in the lab was rewarding – and fun! I feel very fortunate and lucky to have been part of the department”.
Scholarships and Awards
Rebecca has been the recipient of many scholarships and awards, including receiving the President’s scholarship twice, an undergradtuate student research award, the Hugh and Lilian Salmond scholarship, best participant award at an undergraduate conference, best presenter at the Canadian Institute of Chemistry, Vancouver Island Division and third prize at the Faculty of Science Honours Fest.
Highlights of the UVic experience
Rebecca applied the knowledge and skills she attained during her three coop semesters to her chemistry course work and lab assignments. Her work terms gave her time management skills, as well as the speed and self-assurance of her abilities that she put to good use when returning to school.
When asked what she finds most exciting about her research experience, Rebecca says, “the thrill of being on the forefront of chemical research and how discoveries made in the lab can truly impact and make a difference in people’s lives”.
Rebecca received a lot of support from friends, family and colleagues and appreciated the time everyone spent with her, particularly Dr. Fraser Hof, when she was struggling and needed reassurance of her confidence and abilities. “Due to Fraser’s mentoring, support and opportunities in the graduate research lab, I realized how enjoyable research can be.”
Rebecca is pursuing graduate studies in medicinal chemistry at the University of Toronto.
Advice to incoming students
Rebecca advises, “Keep focused on your goals and follow your passion because you will be the most successful about something that you really care about.”
Learn more about Chemistry
marcel-celayatrue1386042810960systemMarcel Celaya/science/students/prospective-undergrad/experiences/experience/marcel-celayaSciencesite://Science/science/students/prospective-undergrad/experiences/experience/marcel-celayavgl1337280784388vgl1337280784388Navigation LevelUndefinedpage-stateWriting completewriter-emailhours-writinghours-editinghours-codingprototypeNodevelopment-statusattention-needed
Marcel Celaya - Mathematics and Statistics
Marcel was drawn to programming since completing a ‘teach-yourself-in-24-hours programming textbook’ when he was 12; he has been fascinated ever since! He admits he was not fond of math in high school, however as he progressed through his senior years he grew to appreciate the many ways math was incorporated into life and learning: for example, he was amazed that all of high school physics could be completely described very concisely using the language of calculus.
His participation in the honours program gave him the opportunity to work very closely with his professors and he gained valuable experience by presenting his poster at the annual Faculty of Science Honours Fest.
Marcel has completed numerous co-op terms. When asked what stands out about his experience at UVic, he replied, “Co-op definitely stands out for me. I have been able to pay for my education through the program and it has given me real work experience that I can use in the future.” Marcel recently submitted a paper to a computing conference in Cambridge that was accepted and he will be travelling to England this summer to give a talk about his research. When he returns, he will return to one of his co-op employers for the remainder of the summer.
Marcel has received numerous awards and scholarships throughout his time at UVic, including the UVic President's scholarship in 2010 and the Jamie Cassel’s Undergraduate Research Award in 2011.
He will be attending McGill University in the fall to start his Master's degree and then possibly a PhD.
When asked what advice he would give to incoming students, Marcel says, “Talk to your professors about what they are working on. Ask them if there are any projects that you can help them with. Also, live in dorms or an off-campus student house if you can, preferably close to the university. You'll make some good friends, and there's a lot to be said about living close to campus. It's possible to use the co-op program to pay for your rent and tuition. Finally, if you are somewhat interested in math, do the Putnam competition. There's a lot of perks to doing it; it is fun and challenging at the same time.”
A self-confessed math nerd, Marcel enjoys making 3D models out of stiff paper in his spare time; he is also an avid cyclist, enjoys reading, photography, playing board games, and gardening.
Learn more about co-operative education and the Department of Mathematics and Statistics
tabitha-gaudettrue1386042810960systemTabitha Gaudet/science/students/prospective-undergrad/experiences/experience/tabitha-gaudetSciencesite://Science/science/students/prospective-undergrad/experiences/experience/tabitha-gaudetvgl1337280119554vgl1337281469103Navigation LevelUndefinedpage-stateWriting completewriter-emailhours-writinghours-editinghours-codingprototypeNodevelopment-statusattention-needed
Tabitha Gaudet - Biology
Tabby took a year off from schooling to review her situation. When she returned, she enrolled in a tree biology course that was the turning point in her education. The course was taught by Dr. Barbara Hawkins and Dr. Patrick Von Aderkas and involved hands-on field trips where students could identify species, see applications in silviculture, and experience areas of research. She says no other course throughout her university career inspired her like that one. Gaudet later saw an advertisement in class for a Summer Undergraduate Research Award and asked Barbara Hawkins if she would sponsor her; Hawkins agreed and that project turned into an honours and eventually into a poster at the first annual Faculty of Science Honours Fest.
Tabby enjoyed the process of designing and completing the project; this included working in the greenhouse and labs on campus as well as interacting with people in the Forestry Department at UVic and researchers at the Pacific Forestry Centre in Victoria. She received an enormous amount of support from her supervisor, Barbara Hawkins, and credits her with helping to stay motivated to complete her degree.
Now employed at Pacificus Biological Services in Port Hardy, Tabby does environmental monitoring, stream assessments, fish and invertebrate surveys as well as diving expeditions.
Her advice to new students is “Choose your degree wisely and open yourself to life and its possibilities; you might not get what you think you want, but you just might find your niche. There were so many times that I thought I wasn’t good enough for something and that I was a shoe-in for other opportunities. I was always pleasantly surprised by the actual outcome”.
Find out more about biology
emma--conwaytrue1386042810960systemEmma Conway/science/students/prospective-undergrad/experiences/experience/emma--conwaySciencesite://Science/science/students/prospective-undergrad/experiences/experience/emma--conwayvgl1337272496249vgl1337281092593Navigation LevelUndefinedpage-stateWriting completewriter-emailhours-writinghours-editinghours-codingprototypeNodevelopment-statusattention-needed
Emma Conway – Biochemistry and Microbiology
Undergraduate research experience
Emma chose Biochemistry and Microbiology because “I have always been interested in science, and was fortunate to have an influential high school teacher who pushed me in that direction. In science, there are reasons and logic.”
One of the most exciting aspects of her UVic experience was when her supervisor, John Webb, agreed to take her on as an honours student. Her research project has opened up huge opportunities for her, including working in the lab at the Deeley Cancer Research Center. It is because of that connection that Emma will be starting her MSc through the UBC Pathology program at the BC Cancer Research Center in the Fall.
Emma received an entrance scholarship to UVic and was awarded first place in the 2012 Faculty of Science Honours Fest.
When asked what stood out for her during her UVic experience, she replied, “My whole experience has been so good, it’s hard to pick one thing. Not only was I lucky enough to be involved in a research project that used my education to do something that really matters, I have made some very good friends and also enjoyed participating in the intramural sports program.”
Advice to incoming students
Emma advises, “Get to know your professors - they are there to help! If you show you are enthusiastic and interested and have scientific curiosity, they are going to be more encouraged to want to know you and happy to help you out. Get involved!”
Learn more about Biochemistry and Microbiology
alice-koningtrue1386042810960systemAlice Koning/science/students/prospective-undergrad/experiences/experience/alice-koningSciencesite://Science/science/students/prospective-undergrad/experiences/experience/alice-koningvgl1337205718446vgl1337281044507Navigation LevelUndefinedpage-stateUnwrittenwriter-emailhours-writinghours-editinghours-codingprototypeNodevelopment-statusattention-needed
Alice Koning - Physics and Astronomy
Koning has always been interested in astronomy; she got involved with the Royal Astronomical Society in Calgary in her early teens and has never looked back! Astronomy has always held an intrigue and interest for her so when it was time to choose a university program, it was a natural choice.
Once Alice arrived at UVic, she was delighted to discover how exceptional the astronomy program was. Given the fact that Victoria is home to the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory and Herzberg Institute of Astrophysics (HIA), allowed for plenty of interaction and collaboration between students and professors at UVic and researchers at HIA.
Alice took full advantage of the fact that UVic boasts the distinction of having Canada’s biggest on-campus telescope. She was fortunate to have unlimited access to this equipment that she felt greatly enhanced her learning.
She also participated in numerous coop terms: two at HIA in Victoria, one at the University of Alberta, and her last work term will be this summer at the Gemini Observatory located in Chile.
Alice is grateful for the support she received from fellow students, staff, coop supervisors and all of her professors. She felt extremely comfortable approaching any one of her professors for advice; not just on that course, but what kinds of opportunities would be available once she finished her degree and what courses should she consider taking in future years. They were always more than happy to take the time to talk with her.
She found volunteering at the Wednesday evening astronomy open houses was extremely rewarding and exciting due to the fact that she was able to work on her data while sharing her knowledge and interest with the public.
When asked what advice she would give to incoming students, Alice replied, “Get to know your teachers; this helped me out on numerous occasions. Get involved with volunteering. Clubs are good as well but volunteering gives you an opportunity to talk about what you love with the public, who come because they are interested and want to learn. Volunteering is a stress-free and great experience”.
Alice plans on going to graduate school and will continue her volunteer work with astronomical societies.
Learn more about Physics and Astronomy and coop
julia-baumtrue1386042810960systemJulia Baum/science/students/prospective-undergrad/experiences/experience/julia-baumSciencesite://Science/science/students/prospective-undergrad/experiences/experience/julia-baumvgl1333141368871cvb.admin1362071830218Navigation LevelUndefinedpage-stateUnwrittenwriter-emailhours-writinghours-editinghours-codingprototypeNodevelopment-statusattention-needed
Julia Baum - Biology
Her research has direct relevance to ocean resource management, conservation, and policy. Baum was recently awarded a 2012 Sloan Research Fellowship.
After focusing for many years on quantifying impacts of fisheries on large pelagic and ocean sharks (mostly in the Northwest Atlantic), Baum's research is now focusing on sharks on Pacific coral reefs, and trying to understand how these large predators shape coral reef ecosystems, and what the consequences are of losing them. Julia and her team are addressing these questions through field studies on Kiritimati atoll, in the remote equatorial Pacific, and complex statistical analyses of large coral reef monitoring data sets.
When asked what compelled her to pursue her field of research, Julia replied: "I didn't connect to the ocean early in life: I grew up in Guelph, and didn't even see the ocean until I was ten. What I did connect to, and become greatly concerned with, early on were the impacts that humans were having on the natural world. A grade school project on whooping cranes, an endangered species in Canada, got me going on this. Then I started devouring information on the imperilled state of the great apes and the incredible women scientists who were studying them, and I was hooked on the idea of becoming a conservation biologist (not that I knew that term at the time!). It wasn't until I took an Aquatic Conservation course in my third year at McGill that I became interested in ocean conservation."
The road to UVic
Baum received her BSc from McGill University, and her MSc and PhD from Dalhousie University, all in Biology. She subsequently held a David H. Smith Conservation Research Fellowship at Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego, followed by a Schmidt Ocean Institute postdoctoral fellowship at the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS) in Santa Barbara. She has conducted field research in eleven countries including the Republic of Kiribati, the location of her current coral reef field program.
In terms of ocean sciences there's no better place to be in Canada than at UVic. It is a very collegial and collaborative research environment and is clearly is heading in the right direction – towards becoming Canada's premier comprehensive research-intensive university – and has the momentum to get there.
When not in the lab, Julia can be found outside, enjoying nature – hiking, camping, snorkelling, diving, and kayaking, and introducing her son to the natural wonders on Vancouver Island.
Find out more about Julia's research.
martin-boulangertrue1386042810960systemMartin Boulanger/science/students/prospective-undergrad/experiences/experience/martin-boulangerSciencesite://Science/science/students/prospective-undergrad/experiences/experience/martin-boulangercathie1327706944923vgl1374180546529Navigation LevelUndefinedpage-stateEditing completewriter-emailhours-writing2hours-editing1hours-coding.25prototypeNodevelopment-statusattention-needed
Martin Boulanger - Biochemistry and Microbiology
Dr. Martin Boulanger (biochemistry and microbiology) studies the structural interactions between proteins, such as the interactions between microbial pathogens and their hosts. His specialty has many applications, and projects are wide-ranging. One of his projects involves the protozoan Toxoplasma gondii, which causes the flu-like disease toxoplasmosis.
Although toxoplasmosis is generally mild, it is still an important disease to treat in Canada. It can be fatal to AIDS patients, and it is also a serious concern for pregnant mothers: infected fetuses can have permanent brain damage. In 1995, Victoria’s water supply was contaminated with T. gondii, and more than 100 people, including 12 newborns, were infected.
Boulanger explains, “My current research includes defining the structural basis of how eukaryotic pathogen engage host cells, elucidating the mechanisms by which pathogens are transmitted by insect vectors and designing and developing structure based inhibitors against cancer targets.”
The road to UVic
Boulanger received his PhD from the University of British Columbia in 2002 for his work on engineering bacterial enzymes to improve their ability to remove toxic nitrogen species from the environment. He then accepted an NSERC post-doctoral fellowship to study the structural basis of cell signalling molecules at Stanford University Medical School. Following his tenure as a post-doc, he joined Affinium Pharmaceuticals in Toronto as a senior scientist, where he applied structural and biophysical techniques to developing antimicrobial therapeutics.
Learn more about Dr. Boulanger’s research.
talon-jonestrue1386042810960systemTalon Jones/science/students/prospective-undergrad/experiences/experience/talon-jonesSciencesite://Science/science/students/prospective-undergrad/experiences/experience/talon-jonescathie1327603216418cathie1328119326480Navigation LevelUndefinedpage-stateEditing completewriter-emailhours-writing2hours-editing1hours-coding.25prototypeNodevelopment-statusattention-needed
Talon Jones - Chemistry
Talon Jones is proof that it pays to listen to your teachers. He’s completing his Bachelor of Science in Chemistry on the advice of his high school chemistry teacher as well as professors he had during his first two years at UVic.
Talon has always enjoyed sciences. His decision to pursue a major in chemistry, though, was due to the professors that taught the courses. They made it compelling and challenging all while trying to provide their own time for their students.
Learning from researchers
Talon says, “What stands out at UVic is how the professors that teach the courses are also conducting the research in the field that they’re teaching. Every day students get the chance to interact with the professionals of the field.”
Of the lab experience, he explains, “It’s exciting how much application is given through science programs at UVic. For every hour in lecture it seems that there’s an equal amount of time devoted towards laboratory experience.”
A place of community
Talon’s developed relationships with other undergraduate students in the classroom and lab. He says, “I’ve established more personal relationships with grad students and professors than I’d anticipated. They’re not just interested in your life as a student but you get to develop a personal relationship as well. I’m making connections that will follow me later in life.”
Learn more about chemistry programs at UVic.
steve-evanstrue1386042810960systemSteve Evans/science/students/prospective-undergrad/experiences/experience/steve-evansSciencesite://Science/science/students/prospective-undergrad/experiences/experience/steve-evanscathie1327601521118cathie1328651701212Navigation LevelUndefinedpage-stateEditing completewriter-emailhours-writing2hours-editing1hours-coding.25prototypeNodevelopment-statusattention-needed
Steve Evans - Biochemistry and Microbiology
After spending years doing research in Ottawa, Steve Evans returned to his native British Columbia and joined UVic, where he’s a professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Microbiology.
When asked what compelled him to pursue his field of research, Steve replied: "It has been a circuitous journey, and it would be correct to say that a career in medical research was initiated when I happened upon some shiny stones as a child. The stones led to an interest in rocks and minerals, and I found out that there was a scientific discipline called 'crystallography' that explained the habits and morphologies of the mineral crystals that I was collecting."
As an undergraduate in chemistry, Evans learned how x-ray diffraction could be combined with crystallography to determine the structures of the molecules in the crystals. He decided to carry out graduate studies using these techniques.
After graduation, Evans changed the area of his research to biochemistry, where the structures of biological molecules he solved could be used to understand the fundamental basis of life processes. Every aspect of life depends on molecular processes. In studying the structures of these molecules and how they interact one can gain valuable insight not only into how life "works," but into associated disease states and therapeutic approaches.
One of the things Steve loves most about being on campus is the thoughtfulness and generosity of his colleagues. Learn more about Dr. Evans' research or biochemistry and microbiology at UVic.
kim-venntrue1386042810960systemKim Venn/science/students/prospective-undergrad/experiences/experience/kim-vennSciencesite://Science/science/students/prospective-undergrad/experiences/experience/kim-venncathie1327000717490vgl1345066014561Navigation LevelUndefinedpage-stateEditing completewriter-emailhours-writing.5hours-editing.25hours-coding.25prototypeNodevelopment-statusattention-needed
Kim Venn - Physics and Astronomy
UVic astronomer Kim Venn (physics and astronomy), the Canada Research Chair in Observational Astrophysics, is fascinated by the serendipitous chemical reactions in the universe that led to our existence.
"Our sun formed out of material that was eight billion years in the making," she marvels. "Did the chemistry in our galaxy have to be just right to make the sun, or to make the Earth habitable?"
By studying the chemistry of stars of different ages, Venn can reconstruct the formation of the elements that make up our world, and help answer the question of how we came into being.
Learn more about Venn’s research into distant stars.
mike-hamiltontrue1386042810960systemMike Hamilton/science/students/prospective-undergrad/experiences/experience/mike-hamiltonSciencesite://Science/science/students/prospective-undergrad/experiences/experience/mike-hamiltoncathie1326841727192vgl1337280990280Navigation LevelUndefinedpage-stateEditing completewriter-emailhours-writing2hours-editing1hours-coding.25prototypeNodevelopment-statusattention-needed
Mike Hamilton - Chemistry
There are many reasons students choose to study at UVic. For Mike Hamilton (chemistry), it was the friendly atmosphere, smaller class sizes and reputation of the co-op program. Through our co-operative education program (co-op), students alternate terms in class with paid work terms in positions related to their fields of study.
Mike was drawn to chemistry after interactions with the medical field, and he’s pursuing an interest in the pharmaceutical process. Now he’s completing his Bachelor of Science in Chemistry with Honours and taking part in UVic’s co-op program.
Undergraduate research experience
Mike says, “I’ve managed to do research co-op terms with two UVic professors, as well as an honours project with a third. Nowhere else would you have this opportunity to sample and do research in three different aspects of a field during your undergraduate degree.”
Of the UVic experience, Mike responds, “What stands out for me is the small class size and collegial atmosphere in the chemistry department. It’s possible by the end of your degree to be on a first-name basis with most professors in a department. This makes classroom interaction much more beneficial than at a larger institution.”
Student support: awards and scholarships
The chemistry and co-op programs have given Mike a competitive edge. He’s received scholarships to pursue research at Toronto Hospital for Sick Children. Through the co-op program he’s been able to achieve his goal of pursuing research in medicinal chemistry at the Centre for Drug Research and Development.
Mike has received numerous awards and scholarships throughout his time at UVic. When not busy doing research, he can be found climbing, reading, playing the saxophone or participating in a soccer match.
Find out more about UVic's co-op and chemistry programs.
kevin-dazetrue1386042810960systemKevin Daze/science/students/prospective-undergrad/experiences/experience/kevin-dazeSciencesite://Science/science/students/prospective-undergrad/experiences/experience/kevin-dazecathie1326838995067cathie1328120304131Navigation LevelUndefinedpage-stateEditing completewriter-emailhours-writing2hours-editing1hours-coding.25prototypeNodevelopment-statusattention-needed
Kevin Daze - Chemistry
PhD candidate Kevin Daze is a PhD student in the department of Chemistry. He has a BSc in cell and molecular biology and spent two years working in a drug synthesis lab before coming to UVic.
A place of community
Unlike larger institutions he's attended, Kevin feels a great sense of community at UVic and enjoys how tight knit and research-ready the undergraduates are. He says, "I really appreciate the camaraderie with my fellow graduate students and the support I get from my supervisor, Fraser Hof."
Being in the graduate program at UVic has allowed Kevin to attend conferences and travel throughout North America sharing his research. He’s collaborating with great researchers in academia and industry.
Working in med-chemistry
What’s the most exciting thing about his research work? Kevin replied, "Working in med-chemistry means I’m at the vanguard of biochemical understanding of a certain cellular process, and we work to design and make new drugs to affect a certain clinical outcome. With that comes the constant competition from industry programs that could be spending billions working on the same target. It's an exciting and challenging field to be working in."
Kevin's prostate cancer research project has received funding from Prostate Cancer Canada, The Prostate Centre (Victoria), and the Prostate Cancer Foundation of BC (PCFBC).
Once he's completed his PhD, Kevin plans on working as a post-doctoral fellow for a couple of years then taking advantage of the ability to work in Europe.
Advice to incoming graduate students
Kevin advises, "Avoid becoming overwhelmed by keeping a good balance of all the projects you may have on the go at one time—teaching, TA duties, meetings, research, and course work—and know that, occasionally, something will have to give. Always be open to learning new skills and techniques. It always pays to be the person who is the most trained and knowledgeable."
Learn more about chemistry at UVic.
lauren-brauntrue1386042810960systemLauren Braun/science/students/prospective-undergrad/experiences/experience/lauren-braunSciencesite://Science/science/students/prospective-undergrad/experiences/experience/lauren-brauncathie1326409550340cathie1328120883210Navigation LevelUndefinedpage-stateEditing completewriter-emailhours-writing2hours-editing1hours-coding.25prototypeNodevelopment-statusattention-needed
Lauren Braun - Biology
Honours student Lauren Braun (biology) chose the University of Victoria because of its great reputation for undergraduate studies, the location and campus. Being a smaller city, Victoria has a great sense of community that’s also felt on campus. Although smaller than some other schools, Lauren appreciates that UVic can provide resources and opportunities essential for an enjoyable and successful learning experience.
Lauren entered UVic with the President’s Entrance Scholarship and recently received a President’s Scholarship and Jamie Cassels Undergraduate Research Award. Now she’s entering her final year graduating with honours.
Why UVic Biology?
Lauren chose biology because “there is so much interesting information to be learned and so much still to be discovered in the field. UVic’s program has reputable professors and diverse classes that let students gain knowledge in many topics then focus on a particular interest. For me, understanding the molecular mechanisms underlying development is particularly compelling. UVic Biology offered classes and opportunities for me to pursue my interest in this field.”
Lauren’s experience at UVic has allowed her to network with the professors unique to this school. She feels the interest that professors take in enriching the student experience is outstanding. One highlight of her university experience was the opportunity to work in labs in a variety of settings.
Well-organized classes with lab components that complement and enhance information learned in lectures were of huge benefit. Lauren felt that the knowledge was always relevant and practical. Additionally, being able to work alongside a professor on an honours project in the lab was an exciting experience for her.
Being in the biology department has opened up great opportunities for Lauren to get hands-on practical experience in a lab setting. She had a chance to to work as a research assistant in a lab one summer and is now working on an honours project with Dr. Bob Chow.
Lauren’s future plans are to pursue a career in the health care field and to complete her master’s in occupational therapy.
Advice to new students
Lauren’s advice to incoming students is to get to know and make connections with their professors early on. So many of the professors are passionate about their research and are willing to provide opportunities, support or suggest resources that will allow students to share their enthusiasm in their field. Everyone should also take the time to enjoy the many beautiful aspects of the island.
matt-parkertrue1386042810960systemMatt Parker/science/students/prospective-undergrad/experiences/experience/matt-parkerSciencesite://Science/science/students/prospective-undergrad/experiences/experience/matt-parkercathie1326407774460cathie1328123234451Navigation LevelUndefinedpage-stateEditing completewriter-emailhours-writing2hours-editing.5hours-coding.25prototypeNodevelopment-statusattention-needed
Matt Parker - Biochemistry and Microbiology
Originally from the East Coast, Matt Parker is a PhD student in biochemistry and microbiology. He was drawn to UVic because of the research his supervisor was involved in and the quality of life in BC.
Matt previously completed his Bachelor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology with Honours. When asked what compelled him to pursue further education, he replied, “I found when I carried out research in a lab I was driven and interested in what I was doing. The honours was extremely valuable in showing me what research was like.”
Matt has received a great deal of support from his supervisor and department and received graduate awards. He finds his research and the freedom to pursue his interests in this area are the most exciting aspects of his work at UVic.
Once he has his PhD, Matt plans on continuing to pursue his research interests. His advice to future students would be to “fully investigate the program and the research before entering. Reading a potential supervisor’s research before you apply is invaluable in attaining a spot and knowing what you are getting yourself into.”
Find out more about the Department of Biochemistry and Microbiology.
alexandre-brolotrue1386042810960systemAlexandre Brolo/science/students/prospective-undergrad/experiences/experience/alexandre-broloSciencesite://Science/science/students/prospective-undergrad/experiences/experience/alexandre-brolocathie1326407012362cathie1328120991671Navigation LevelUndefinedpage-stateEditing completewriter-emailhours-writing.5hours-editing.25hours-coding.25prototypeNodevelopment-statusattention-needed
Alexandre Brolo - Chemistry
Imagine a gold cube so small that its cross-width is about 5,000 times thinner than a human hair. The colour is not the usual yellow we associate with gold and metals at those dimensions change colour when molecules stick to their surface.
Chemist Alexandre Brolo looks for new ways to fabricate very small metallic structures and explores their interesting properties in a variety of applications, such as sensors for cancer diagnostics and the fabrication of more efficient solar cells. Brolo was recognized for his research with a 2011 Craigdarroch Silver Medal for Excellence in Research.
Brolo is also the star of “That Chemistry Show,” an outreach project coordinated by the UVic Chemistry Students’ Society. His mad science and cool magic tricks delight kids of all ages.
Learn more about Dr. Brolo’s research or chemistry at UVic.
dante-caniltrue1386042810960systemDante Canil/science/students/prospective-undergrad/experiences/experience/dante-canilSciencesite://Science/science/students/prospective-undergrad/experiences/experience/dante-canilcathie1326406217375vgl1359652056026Navigation LevelUndefinedpage-stateEditing completewriter-emailhours-writing.5hours-editing.25hours-coding.25prototypeNodevelopment-statusattention-needed
Dante Canil - Earth and Ocean Sciences
UVic geologist Dante Canil (earth and ocean sciences) was recently elected a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada for outstanding scholarly and scientific achievement. The distinction is considered Canada’s highest academic honour.
Dante is an international leader in the study of the Earth’s mantle, the layer of rock below the crust that makes up about 65 per cent of the planet’s mass. His pioneering work has greatly expanded our understanding of volcanic rocks that host diamonds, ancient deep regions of the continents, and the evolution of oxygen in the Earth and atmosphere.
“A better understanding of diamond geology aids in the exploration of Canada’s North where diamond deposits are concentrated,” says Canil. “And the evolution of oxygen in the mantle—Earth’s largest chemical reservoir—may be key to the rise of oxygen in the atmosphere over time, which led to the evolution of complex life forms on our planet, and possibly others.”
Dante is from Windsor, Ontario and from there moved to Alberta, to Germany and then to Victoria. As a teen, he initially wanted to work as a producer in a recording studio, but a boyhood love of the outdoors drew him into geology. He initially began his career mapping 3 billion year old rocks in northern Ontario.
Learn more about the School of Earth and Ocean Sciences and petrology at UVic.
stephen-johnstontrue1386042810960systemStephen Johnston/science/students/prospective-undergrad/experiences/experience/stephen-johnstonSciencesite://Science/science/students/prospective-undergrad/experiences/experience/stephen-johnstoncathie1326326932361cathie1327961099815Navigation LevelUndefinedpage-stateEditing completewriter-emailhours-writing1hours-editing.25hours-coding.25prototypeNodevelopment-statusattention-needed
Stephen Johnston - Earth and Ocean Sciences
Dr. Stephen Johnston (earth and ocean sciences), UVic geologist and expert in plate tectonics, is working on one of the most complex geological puzzles in the world—how the western edge of North America was formed.
According to Johnston, if you had lived in Kelowna, BC, 110 million years ago, the Pacific Ocean would be lapping at your door. That's because the rest of BC was up to 3,000 kilometres south of here—closer to Mexico than to Alberta.
"Mountain ranges occur when one continent bumps into another, causing a 'wrinkle' in the land," he says. "But the geology of the mountains of BC and Alberta looks more like a train derailment than a wrinkle. There are huge shards of land folded up against each other—and they contain mineral deposits unlike the surrounding land."
Johnston believes this is evidence that what is now the western edge of North America was once a completely different continent—an 8,000 km-long, 500 km-wide ribbon of land that stretched from Siberia to Mexico, separated from North America by an oceanic basin.
This ribbon continent, which Johnston has named SAYBIA (for Siberia, Alaska, Yukon and BC) rested on the Pacific tectonic plate, which slowly moved north, sinking under the Eurasian plate and colliding with Siberia.
Read more about Johnston’s research on BC’s geological origins or learn more about the School of Earth and Ocean Sciences.
verena-tunnicliffetrue1386042810960systemVerena Tunnicliffe/science/students/prospective-undergrad/experiences/experience/verena-tunnicliffeSciencesite://Science/science/students/prospective-undergrad/experiences/experience/verena-tunnicliffecathie1326325714125cathie1326917572655Navigation LevelUndefinedpage-stateEditing completewriter-emailhours-writing.5hours-editing.25hours-coding.25prototypeNodevelopment-statusattention-needed
Verena Tunnicliffe - Biology
Deep-sea volcanoes that emit clouds of molten sulphur, hydrothermal vents that spew plumes of super-heated water and dissolved minerals – neither sounds like an ideal place to set up house. Yet an astonishing range of marine organisms call these hostile environments home.
They're the lifelong passion of Dr. Verena Tunnicliffe (biology), an internationally renowned expert on the sea life found at hydrothermal vents, subsea volcanoes and low-oxygen zones.
Tunnicliffe’s research focuses on the biology and ecology of deep-ocean organisms living in extreme conditions, and has contributed onto the formation of two major ocean reserves.
“Learning about adaptations in these harsh conditions helps us understand the limits of life, and enables us to protect ocean biodiversity in the face of climate change”, she says.
As director of the ocean observing network VENUS, Tunnicliffe’s lab interacts extensively with a wide research community interested in ecosystem processes in the Salish Sea. The Victoria Experimental Network Under the Sea (VENUS) is an innovative approach to interacting with the oceans.
Scientific instruments under the sea surface and on the sea floor connect directly to a data clearinghouse and to the computers of researchers via fibre optic cables. Study locations in Saanich Inlet and Strait of Georgia support internationally significant research on a range of topics.
Learn more about Dr. Tunnicliffe's research and oceans research at UVic.
caroline-camerontrue1386042810960systemCaroline Cameron/science/students/prospective-undergrad/experiences/experience/caroline-cameronSciencesite://Science/science/students/prospective-undergrad/experiences/experience/caroline-cameroncathie1326324474387cathie1328118941463Navigation LevelUndefinedpage-stateEditing completewriter-emailhours-writing1hours-editing.25hours-coding.25prototypeNodevelopment-statusattention-needed
Caroline Cameron - Biochemistry and Microbiology
Sexually transmitted infections aren’t something most of us like to talk or even think about. But when we do, syphilis doesn’t immediately spring to mind. After all, it’s a disease of the past, right?
Wrong. Syphilis rates are rising in BC and in the rest of Canada. The latest statistics reveal that BC has the highest reported rate of syphilis in Canada, with 6.9 cases per 100,000 people—more than double the rate of 10 years ago.
Dr. Caroline Cameron (biochemistry and microbiology), a University of Victoria microbiologist and holder of the Canada Research Chair in Molecular Pathogenesis since 2006, is one of a handful of researchers who study this disease and the only one in Canada examining it at a basic science level.
Cameron is trying to understand how the syphilis bacterium, Treponema pallidum, attaches to the tissues of its host, how it passes through the tissue barrier and how it spreads to distant tissue sites.
Read more about Dr. Cameron’s syphilis research and the Department of Biochemistry and Microbiology.
julio-navarrotrue1386042810960systemJulio Navarro/science/students/prospective-undergrad/experiences/experience/julio-navarroSciencesite://Science/science/students/prospective-undergrad/experiences/experience/julio-navarrocathie1326323811700cathie1328120182103Navigation LevelUndefinedpage-stateEditing completewriter-emailhours-writing1hours-editing.25hours-coding.25prototypeNodevelopment-statusattention-needed
Julio Navarro - Physics and Astronomy
UVic's Julio Navarro (physics and astronomy) is one of the world’s leading astrophysicists. His research on galaxy formation and evolution—primarily using sophisticated computer simulations—has shaped our current understanding of how structures in the universe formed. He is especially well known for his work on dark matter, a mysterious substance that holds galaxies together
“Cosmology is undergoing a golden age of discovery that promises to rewrite the most fundamental laws of physics,” says Navarro. ”It’s only in the past few decades that humankind has been able to piece together a scientifically verifiable account of how the universe began and evolved. It’s a privilege to be active in this field at this time.”
Navarro was recently elected a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada for outstanding scholarly and scientific achievement. The distinction is considered Canada’s highest academic honour.
He’s a member of the Virgo consortium, an international team of astrophysicists who developed the largest computer simulation ever of the structure and growth of the universe. Known as the "Millennium Run," the simulation charts how the cosmos may have evolved since the Big Bang 13.7 billion years ago. Learn more about Navarro’s work with the Virgo consortium.
asit-mazumdertrue1386042810960systemAsit Mazumder/science/students/prospective-undergrad/experiences/experience/asit-mazumderSciencesite://Science/science/students/prospective-undergrad/experiences/experience/asit-mazumdercathie1326323122101cathie1326917434985Navigation LevelUndefinedpage-stateEditing completewriter-emailhours-writing1hours-editing.25hours-coding.25prototypeNodevelopment-statusattention-needed
Asit Mazumder - Biology
We all need water. Clean and sustainable supplies of it are critical to the health and well-being of our communities. But what effects will climate change have on our water supplies in the coming decades? What are the health risks? What can be done now to prepare?
“Climate extremes can trigger waterborne disease outbreaks from pathogens such as E. coli, Giardia and others,” says Asit Mazumder (biology), NSERC Research Chair on Water. “This risk worsens where the landscape around a water source is being altered by agriculture, livestock farming and residential development.”
Mazumder is an international leader in the ecology of aquatic ecosystems and the implications for human health. As part of a national study on climate change and infectious disease, Mazumder and his team recently worked with stakeholders in BC’s Salmon River watershed. They developed models for predicting how various temperature and precipitation scenarios affect the entry and survival of fecal bacteria in water bodies used for drinking water.
The model framework is being used by the federal and provincial governments to assess risk and determine adaptation strategies. Mazumder’s group is now adapting the framework—which he says is the first of its kind in the world—for use by four other communities in BC.
Read more about Mazumder’s research into water quality.
anthony-quastrue1386042810960systemAnthony Quas/science/students/prospective-undergrad/experiences/experience/anthony-quasSciencesite://Science/science/students/prospective-undergrad/experiences/experience/anthony-quascathie1321904891621cathie1328126152496Navigation LevelUndefinedpage-stateEditing completewriter-emailhours-writing1hours-editing1hours-coding.25prototypeNodevelopment-statusattention-needed
Anthony Quas - Mathematics and Statistics
What does chaos theory have to do with math? Mathematician Anthony Quas is an expert in dynamical systems, an important area of mathematics that's blossomed in the computer era.
He applies the techniques of probability to the study of ergodic theory, which makes predictions about the average long-term behaviour of chaotic dynamic systems. A dynamical system is any system that changes over time according to some predetermined rule, such as planetary motion being governed by the laws of gravity, or systems that model weather behaviour.
“Dynamical systems is the fancy term for chaos theory,” he explains. Chaos in mathematics is studied in the form of these systems, in which small disturbances in initial conditions can have a dramatic long-term effect.
This sensitivity is known in popular culture as the “butterfly effect,” from a paper by Edward Lorenz—a pioneer of chaos theory—titled: Predictability: Does the Flap of a Butterfly’s Wings in Brazil set off a Tornado in Texas? “It’s fascinating, because despite things having a random, unpredictable element, you can make strong predictions about the cumulative efforts of random things,” he says.
Research mathematics is about constructing a theory that describes the relationship between phenomena, he explains. A particular focus for his work recently has been the use of dynamical systems methods in the study of mixing in ocean systems.
The principal goal is to describe obstructions to mixing in the ocean. Many things get pumped into the ocean and one would assume it’s all gradually incorporated and becomes equally dispersed. In practice, though, that does not always happen. There are great regions of the ocean that mix very poorly, such as in gyres—large systems of rotating ocean currents. Anthony’s theory is geared towards locating these gyres and the mechanisms behind them.
Anthony, a Canada Research Chair, is also interested in the dynamics of expanding maps, information theory, statistical mechanics and percolation theory.
Learn more about Anthony Quas’ research.
laura-cowentrue1386042810960systemLaura Cowen/science/students/prospective-undergrad/experiences/experience/laura-cowenSciencesite://Science/science/students/prospective-undergrad/experiences/experience/laura-cowencathie1321647109385cathie1328121168883Navigation LevelUndefinedpage-stateEditing completewriter-emailhours-writing2hours-editing1hours-coding.25prototypeNodevelopment-statusattention-needed
Laura Cowen - Mathematics and Statistics
What do birds and statistics have in common? Laura Cowen's background is in seabird research on remote islands off the coast of BC and Alaska. She noticed that after spending months collecting data, this data often sat on shelves as few people had the skills to analyse it.
Laura wanted to fill this gap so she pursued a master’s degree in statistics at Waterloo. She went on to do a PhD in statistics, where she was able to study mark-recapture experiments. These experiments are used by wildlife biologists to estimate population parameters and are a beautiful bridge between the worlds of ecology and statistics.
When asked about her experience as a researcher in Science at UVic, Laura responded, “The Mathematics and Statistics department is seen by the Faculty of Science as a service department. While we do offer many courses to students from other departments, nothing could be further from the truth. Mathematics and Statistics is a department doing excellent research and is the only department in Science where every member has a research grant.”
Laura is part of the Population Research Group, a collection of researchers from various departments and faculties. She's found the connections valuable as they have broadened her interdisciplinary research areas. For example, Laura's had the opportunity to study the behaviour of injection drug users, as well as help to develop a test for syphilis.
Laura’s advice to incoming researchers is to find out early what UVic has to offer in terms of research support. Often there are grants available to assist new researchers (for example travel grants as well as research grants).
An outdoor enthusiast, Laura bikes to work pulling her son, Shea, in a trailer as he attends UVic daycare. On weekends she enjoys hiking the many hills and trails with her son and husband.
Find out more about Laura’s research.
sara-ellisontrue1386042810960systemSara Ellison/science/students/prospective-undergrad/experiences/experience/sara-ellisonSciencesite://Science/science/students/prospective-undergrad/experiences/experience/sara-ellisoncathie1321646535756cvb.admin1337377457198Navigation LevelUndefinedpage-stateEditing completewriter-emailhours-writing1hours-editing1hours-codingprototypeNodevelopment-statusattention-needed
Sara Ellison - Physics and Astronomy
Sara Ellison joined the University of Victoria in 2003 from Cambridge and is an associate professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy. Choosing UVic was an easy decision for Sara. She was offered a faculty position with a Canada Research Chair (CRC), in combination with UVic’s location and strength in her field of astronomy.
An early interest in astronomy
Sara’s keen interest in astronomy dates back to her high school years when she was given a book that started her off stargazing in the back garden. Soon after, she had a new physics teacher at school who was also very interested in astronomy. He’d often get sidetracked on the topic, so she learned quite a lot. Finally, when Sara was an undergraduate, she spent several summers working at observatories around the world—travelling to exotic places, working on the tops of extinct volcanoes studying the stars. She was hooked!
New avenues of research
Because Sara holds a CRC chair, the majority of her time is spent on research. The environment at UVic has encouraged her to develop new avenues of research in galaxy formation and evolution. Sara finds this really exciting and believes these avenues would have been unlikely to develop elsewhere. She really appreciates the people she works with locally, ranging from other professional astronomers in Victoria (both at UVic and the Herzberg Institute for Astrophysics) to our high quality post-docs and students.
Sara works with a modest-sized local team of one other (adjunct) faculty member, two post-docs and two graduate students. (There are a few other team members outside Victoria.) The team members are excellent and a great pleasure to work with. Sara counts herself as very fortunate to be able to lead a project that she finds exciting and to work with such a productive and enjoyable team.
Sara has been very successful in obtaining financial support through national grants. She says one of the most important sources of daily support is on the computational side. A portion of her grant funding was used to purchase a large beowulf computer cluster to run intensive data reduction and theoretical models. She has received incredible support within the department and from computer services for the purchase and maintenance of this cluster.
Sara has been the recipient of numerous awards and recognition. Her PhD thesis (2000) was runner-up for the national thesis prize in the UK award by the Royal Astronomical Society. In 2004, she was awarded the Annie Jump Cannon Prize by the American Astronomical Society, which recognizes an outstanding junior female astronomer and in 2009, she received UVic's Faculty of Science Research Excellence Award.
Sara’s group is currently in the process of obtaining a completely new set of data to measure the amount of gas in galaxy mergers. This project will use the world's largest radio and submillimetre telescopes, which is a new direction for Sara as she has always used optical telescopes. She is very excited at the prospect of learning new techniques and the questions it will help tackle with a unique dataset.
When not stargazing, Sara can be found running and training for triathlons. Learn more about physics and astronomy at UVic.
cuong-letrue1386042810960systemCuong Le/science/students/prospective-undergrad/experiences/experience/cuong-leSciencesite://Science/science/students/prospective-undergrad/experiences/experience/cuong-lecathie1321645896690cathie1326915769887Navigation LevelUndefinedpage-stateEditing completewriter-emailhours-writing2hours-editing1hours-coding.25prototypeNodevelopment-statusattention-needed
Cuong Le - Biochemistry and Microbiology
Cuong Le, originally from Calgary, chose to do his graduate studies in the Department of Biochemistry and Microbiology because of the quality of UVic’s research labs, equipment and facilities, and the professors he wanted to work with.
Cuong’s research has focused on metabolomic analysis of plant and bacterial metabolism and its application to human health. Over the past six years, he has worked as an undergraduate student research assistant and research assistant in collaborative multidisciplinary environments at the University of British Columbia Okanagan and the UVic Genome BC Proteomics Centre. He is funded through the NSERC CREATE program and has been the recipient of several graduate awards.
Through his affiliation with UVic, Cuong has found several science outreach programs to connect with the community including Let’s Talk Science and the Society of the Advancement of Young Scientists.
Cuong has been supported extensively from both the departments of Biochemistry and Biology. In particular, the department head and graduate advisers have helped him in planning his degree, and all of the professors have been receptive to his requests for assistance.
Once Cuong has completed his graduate degree, he plans on transferring to a PhD program and eventually becoming a professor. His advice to incoming graduate students is to take advantage of the size and diversity of our campus and to try to meet up with people in other departments.
Find out more about biochemistry and microbiology at UVic.
quinn-matthewstrue1386042810960systemQuinn Matthews/science/students/prospective-undergrad/experiences/experience/quinn-matthewsSciencesite://Science/science/students/prospective-undergrad/experiences/experience/quinn-matthewscathie1321645019807cvb.admin1337377495660Navigation LevelUndefinedpage-stateEditing completewriter-emailhours-writing2hours-editing1hours-coding.25prototypeNodevelopment-statusattention-needed
Quinn Matthews - Physics and Astronomy
Born in Victoria, Quinn Matthews has spent his entire academic career at the University of Victoria, starting with an entrance scholarship for his undergraduate studies in the Department of Physics and Astronomy.
For his graduate studies, Quinn was excited to enter the field of medical physics and eager to participate in Dr. Andrew Jirasek’s proposed research for improving the practice of treating cancer with radiation therapy.
Quinn also knew the UVic medical physics graduate program and the proposed research project would provide him with a diverse range of skills and experiences that would prepare him well for interdisciplinary research in medical physics and cancer therapy.
When asked what stands out for him about his UVic experience so far, Quinn replied, “I am very fortunate to have been able to draw on the expertise, experience, and resources of a variety of researchers from multiple UVic departments (i.e., Physics, Chemistry, Biochemistry and Microbiology) and UVic-affiliated institutions (in particular the BC Cancer Agency [BCCA] and the Deeley Research Centre [DRC] at BCCA – Vancouver Island Centre [BCCA-VIC]). There have been no barriers or limitations for interdisciplinary collaborations and access to specialized equipment and resources, which has been a vital component of the success of my graduate studies.”
Working with professional researchers
As a graduate student, Quinn has had the opportunity to work with professional researchers in a variety of disciplines related to cancer therapy and has presented his research at several national and international conferences. He’s developed academic writing and communication skills through publishing papers, preparing his theses, and presenting his research at both conferences and research group meetings. As well, Quinn has acquired teaching experience working as a teaching assistant in the Physics and Astronomy department, instructing both laboratory and tutorial sessions and teaching with the Physics Aid Service.
Quinn encourages everybody on campus to reach out and make connections with the wealth of experience and expertise here, both inside and outside of your department of study.
Throughout his studies at UVic, Quinn has received many academic/research awards and scholarships. He was recently awarded a post-doctoral fellowship award from the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research.
Find out more about physics and astronomy at UVic.
antoine-julientrue1386042810960systemAntoine Julien/science/students/prospective-undergrad/experiences/experience/antoine-julienSciencesite://Science/science/students/prospective-undergrad/experiences/experience/antoine-juliencathie1321568032541cathie1326915934319Navigation LevelUndefinedpage-stateEditing completewriter-emailhours-writing2hours-editing1hours-coding.25prototypeNodevelopment-statusattention-needed
Antoine Julien - Mathematics and Statistics
Originally from France, Antoine Julien is a post-doctoral fellow in Dr. Ian Putnam’s research group in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics. He chose the University of Victoria because he wanted to work with Dr. Putnam, who assisted him in applying for a post-doctoral grant.
Antoine is studying non-periodic tilings. His research at UVic has allowed him to broaden his background and collaborate with a variety of people.
The UVic community
Being part of the UVic community as a young researcher has been very beneficial for Antoine. It's assisted him in gaining independence as a researcher, broadened his skills and experience in developing his own research program, and he's crafting his skills as a teacher.
Antoine’s future goals are to stay in academia as he enjoys aspects of both teaching and research. He hopes to secure another post-doctoral position in either North America or Europe.
Find out more about mathematics and statistics at UVic.
elizabeth-hoffmantrue1386042810960systemElizabeth Hoffman/science/students/prospective-undergrad/experiences/experience/elizabeth-hoffmanSciencesite://Science/science/students/prospective-undergrad/experiences/experience/elizabeth-hoffmancathie1321567265256cathie1326829098719Navigation LevelUndefinedpage-stateEditing completewriter-emailhours-writing2hours-editing1hours-codingprototypeNodevelopment-statusattention-needed
Elizabeth Hoffman - Biology
Now a fourth-year biology student in the honours program, Elizabeth Hoffman visited numerous universities in her last year of high school before making UVic her number one choice. She was attracted to our campus by its size, friendly community atmosphere and the variety of outdoor activities easily accessible from Victoria. Attracted to the outdoors all her life, Elizabeth’s studies involve learning more about plants and animals, and complete ecosystems.
Elizabeth has particularly enjoyed the ecology and botany courses she has taken and her increased understanding of the natural world. She currently works in Dr. Terri Lacourse’s lab doing paleoecology research. In addition to gaining experience with lab work, she's had the opportunity to pursue original research as she works on her honours project, as well as working with graduate students who have given her insight into the world of graduate studies at UVic.
Highlights of the UVic experience
Elizabeth has found the entire UVic community extremely helpful and supportive of her learning. The one-on-one interactions with professors, graduate students, and undergrads have enhanced her experiences and achievements.
Elizabeth is currently considering graduate school opportunities and advises new students to seek out opportunities, as there are many fantastic jobs, scholarships, and research positions available. She advises, "Get to know the people at UVic: you will find many helpful, supportive individuals, who will assist you in doing your best work!"
Elizabeth has received numerous entrance scholarships, biology scholarships, and is the proud recipient of the 2001/12 Jamie Cassels Undergraduate Research Award.
Learn more about biology at UVic.
kseniya-garaschuktrue1386042810960systemKseniya Garaschuk/science/students/prospective-undergrad/experiences/experience/kseniya-garaschukSciencesite://Science/science/students/prospective-undergrad/experiences/experience/kseniya-garaschukcathie1321566585169cathie1328120076663Navigation LevelUndefinedpage-stateEditing completewriter-emailhours-writing1hours-editing1hours-codingprototypeNodevelopment-statusattention-needed
Kseniya Garaschuk - Mathematics and Statistics
Mathematics PhD graduate student Kseniya Garaschuk has always preferred mathematics over other subjects for its concreteness and unforgiving logic. In her words, “Math is an objective science: mathematical theorems are not influenced by someone’s opinion or point of view. Once proven, a mathematical result is universal and beyond any doubt. Once we agree on the axioms, of course.” It is this unshakable validity that Kseniya has always found so reassuring.
Kseniya was born in Belarus, a former USSR republic, and immigrated to Canada with her family in 2000. When asked why she chose the Department of Mathematics and Statistics, she replied: “I often travelled to UVic for conferences and workshops while completing my bachelor’s and master’s. I therefore got to know the university’s math department and its discrete math research group before I applied. It is a very close-knit community full of friendly faces and willing collaborators. Despite its relatively small size, our research group has a lot of graduate students, which creates a supportive learning environment. The beautiful campus, great West Coast weather and the proximity to my parents in Vancouver were all a big bonus."
She goes on to say, “I have been at UVic for three years now. I can say I have truly enjoyed being a graduate student here. It is rare to find such a welcoming and collegial atmosphere between graduate students and faculty as we have in this department. Everyone strives to fulfil their potential, help others along the way and to also enjoy the process.”
A department committed to student success
Kseniya currently holds an NSERC PGS award and has been the recipient of a UVic graduate fellowship. As a teaching assistant and sessional instructor at UVic, she has witnessed first-hand the commitment of the department to students and their success. The department's instructors constantly discuss curriculum, course prerequisites, course structure, student support, and any other mechanisms they feel would enhance student learning and achievement.
When not doing research or teaching, Kseniya can be found enjoying Formula One racing, working on her model car collection and running with her dog, Schumi.
Learn more about mathematics and statistics at UVic.
michèle-de-la-chevrotièretrue1386042810960systemMichèle De La Chevrotière/science/students/prospective-undergrad/experiences/experience/michèle-de-la-chevrotièreSciencesite://Science/science/students/prospective-undergrad/experiences/experience/michèle-de-la-chevrotièrecathie1321566281915cathie1326830929576Navigation LevelUndefinedpage-stateEditing completewriter-emailhours-writing1hours-editing1hours-codingprototypeNodevelopment-statusattention-needed
Michèle De La Chevrotière - Mathematics and Statistics
Michèle De La Chevrotière is a PhD graduate student in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics, where her research interests are in geophysical fluid dynamics and numerical analysis. Before earning a master’s degree from UVic, Michele completed a two-year program in modeling and simulation in Italy.
Michele credits the support she receives from her supervisor, Dr. Boualem Khouider, in helping her navigate busy days made up of exams, research and academic courses.
Michele’s studies at UVic have opened up the field of climate science and its present-day challenges, which are of particular interest to her. After earning her PhD, Michele would like to continue on the academic path she has set out for herself and pursue her research goals as a post-doctoral fellow. She hopes to one day share her experience and knowledge by teaching mathematics. Learn more about mathematics at UVic.
michelle-tonkintrue1386042810960systemMichelle Tonkin/science/students/prospective-undergrad/experiences/experience/michelle-tonkinSciencesite://Science/science/students/prospective-undergrad/experiences/experience/michelle-tonkincathie1319135786604cathie1326916075895Navigation LevelUndefinedpage-stateEditing completewriter-emailhours-writing2hours-editing.5hours-coding.25prototypeNodevelopment-statusattention-needed
Michelle Tonkin - Biochemistry and Microbiology
Graduate student Michelle Tonkin
(PhD, Biochemistry and Microbiology) is working towards developing therapeutics to treat diseases such as malaria.
Michelle says, “The most exciting thing about my experience at UVic is the potential for my research project. I’m working on a project aimed at developing invasion inhibitory drugs against the Apicomplexan parasites, which include Plasmodium and Toxoplasma, the etiological agents of malaria and toxoplasmosis, respectively. It is both challenging and exhilarating to be working on the cutting edge of this research area - hard-earned results that make a significant contribution to the field are definitely motivating!”
Publication in world’s leading research journal
Michelle was recently published in Science, the world's leading journal of original scientific research. She explains, "In collaboration with a group in France, we recently published a paper in Science: Host cell invasion by Apicomplexan parasites: insights from the co-structure of AMA1 with a RON2 peptide. The paper was chosen as the top biochemistry paper in that issue of Science."
"We also have a patent related to the development of drugs and vaccines from this work. The Science manuscript was my fourth publication from the Boulanger lab, and fifth overall (graduate work: Science, Protein Science, Journal of Biological Chemistry, Current Opinion in Structural Biology; undergraduate work: Journal of Organometallic Chemistry)."
Michelle has achieved numerous scholarships and awards and plans on pursuing post doctorate fellow appointments once she has earned her degree. She was awarded the top prize out of more than 250 of the top 5% of health research graduate students across Canada. She received the Lindau Award and Gold Award of Excellence (Top 10 Poster) at the Canadian Student Health Research Forum in Winnipeg (2011). The CSHRF is a gathering of the top five per cent of health research graduate students in Canada (approximately 250 participants).
The Lindau Award recognized the research showing the most novelty and potential and was presented by the president of CIHR. The award includes nomination to attend the 2014 Nobel Laureate Meeting in Lindau, Germany, and selection as the Lindau Lecturer for the 2015 CSHRF
UVic graduate students are competitive for top tier NSERC research scholarships. Michelle received a top tier NSERC (Alexander Graham Bell Canada Graduate Scholarship - CGSD3) for her doctoral level research. She also was the recipient of the Julie Payette NSERC Research Scholarship, the most prestigious master’s level NSERC Scholarship.
Keys to success
When asked what she feels is the key to her ongoing success at UVic, Michelle says, “I believe it is critical to pick a supervisor you can work well with and a project that is both captivating and challenging. Scientific research often feels like a roller coaster, so having a reliable supervisor and a project in which you are personally invested is key to a successful graduate program”. When not in the lab, Michelle can be found touring the landscape on her motorbike.
Learn about biochemistry and microbiology at UVic.
caren-helbingtrue1386042810960systemCaren Helbing/science/students/prospective-undergrad/experiences/experience/caren-helbingSciencesite://Science/science/students/prospective-undergrad/experiences/experience/caren-helbingcathie1318966835569vgl1333039540430Navigation LevelUndefinedpage-stateCoding completewriter-emailhours-writing.5hours-editing.5hours-codingprototypeNodevelopment-statusattention-needed
Caren Helbing - Biochemistry and Microbiology
Award-winning UVic biochemist Dr. Caren Helbing (biochemistry and microbiology) is committed to developing new technologies for assessing how contaminants are affecting environmental and human health.
Over the past decade, she's provided advanced scientific tools and technical training to regulatory agencies and private sector companies to help them conduct meaningful environmental assessments.
Caren describes her research: "I look at how chemical contaminants in the environment can disrupt normal cell activity and cause disease by mimicking hormones. We use frogs to see which genes are activated before and after exposure to chemicals."
Why frogs? She explains, "Their transformation from a tadpole into a frog depends on thyroid hormones. Frogs are also very sensitive to chemical contaminants in water. This makes them a perfect early warning system for environmental health. Several chemicals commonly found in municipal effluents and personal care products interfere with thyroid hormone action in frogs, even in very tiny amounts. These chemicals are ingredients in things like anti-bacterial soaps, shampoo, toothpaste, plastics and fabrics."
"Thyroid hormones are very important to our health. In infants, they’re essential for proper brain development. If contaminants are affecting how hormones behave in frogs, as our studies show, our health is at risk too. We’re continuing to develop new molecular tools and methods for assessing the safety of our water and for evaluating the effects of contaminants on human and wildlife health."
Learn more about Caren's research with the Centre for Biomedical Research.
boualem-khouidertrue1386042810960systemBoualem Khouider/science/students/prospective-undergrad/experiences/experience/boualem-khouiderSciencesite://Science/science/students/prospective-undergrad/experiences/experience/boualem-khouidercathie1318886427379dshaykew.admin1333122175437Navigation LevelUndefinedpage-stateCoding completewriter-emailhours-writing2hours-editing1hours-codingprototypeNodevelopment-statusattention-needed
Boualem Khouider - Mathematics and Statistics
Boualem Khouider is an associate professor in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics. He's originally from Algeria but calls Victoria home.
Boualem credits his PhD adviser for his transition from computer programmer to math professor. When asked why he chose to pursue a career at UVic, Boualem explains, “Here at UVic, I had the most memorable interview visit. The math department faculty were so friendly and thoughtful that I felt like I was already here before. I was overwhelmed by their sense of hospitality.”
Mathematics and climate change
Boualem has always been attracted by the idea of using his math skills to contribute to other research areas. His exposure to the general area of fluid mechanics led him to discover more challenging real world problems for which numerical analysis is one of the main tools. Climate change science is one of them.
Boualem boasts that he feels UVic has the best earth sciences school in Canada and one of the best in the world. Being motivated to pursue his research career in atmospheric science and given all the above, it became obvious at that moment that the UVic was the ideal place for him.
Learn more about the wide range of mathematics at UVic.
alicia-johntrue1386042810960systemAlicia John/science/students/prospective-undergrad/experiences/experience/alicia-johnSciencesite://Science/science/students/prospective-undergrad/experiences/experience/alicia-johncathie1318881643208vgl1333487890738Navigation LevelUndefinedpage-stateCoding completewriter-emailhours-writing2hours-editing1hours-coding.25prototypeNodevelopment-statusattention-needed
Alicia John - Biochemistry and Microbiology
Alicia John is an undergrad in the honours co-op program in the Department of Biochemistry and Microbiology. She has always had a keen interest in science. A life-changing event in the family of close friends had a direct impact on Alicia's life, drawing her to her chosen field of how genetics play a huge part in our lives.
Although her family live afar, they provide a tremendous amount of support, as do fellow students and faculty on campus. Learn about UVic's support for students.
While science can be frustrating at times, especially when experiments are not working, Alicia finds that the challenges and setbacks encountered are greatly outweighed by her eventual successes. Her advice to other students is to not be afraid to approach professors during office hours and, in the words of her father, “when times are tough, just plough through it. If it were meant to be easy, everyone would be doing it.”
In her spare time, Alicia can be found scrapbooking or spending time with friends watching movies or playing musical bingo. Learn more about biochemistry and microbiology at UVic.
louis-saumiertrue1386042810960systemLouis Saumier/science/students/prospective-undergrad/experiences/experience/louis-saumierSciencesite://Science/science/students/prospective-undergrad/experiences/experience/louis-saumiercathie1318653500681cathie1326834658241Navigation LevelUndefinedpage-stateCoding completewriter-emailhours-writing2hours-editing1hours-codingprototypeNodevelopment-statusattention-needed
Louis Saumier - Mathematics and Statistics
Louis-Philippe Saumier Demers joined the Department of Mathematics and Statistics as a graduate student to complete his master’s degree. The kindness and generosity of the professors and staff in the Math department played a huge role in Louis’ decision to remain at the University of Victoria to pursue his PhD.
Louis chose UVic for several reasons. UVic’s strong math department was a factor, including professors with a wide variety of research interests. As well, UVic is located in a medium-sized city on a beautiful island, and he is able to participate in many water-related sports. Finally, as French is Louis’ first language, it was important to him to become fully bilingual and UVic has afforded him that opportunity.
When asked why he chose this particular program, Louis replied, “Mathematics is the language of nature. It might sound very cliché, but I truly believe it. I was (and still am) fascinated by the complexity of the mathematical structures and objects and by the fact that they appear at very different (and sometimes unexpected) places in the world. I feel that by studying mathematics, I in fact study the foundations of our universe.”
When Louis is not on campus, he can be found surfing the waters at Pacific Rim National Park on the West Coast of the island.
Learn about our mathematics programs.
charli-sakaritrue1386042810960systemCharli Sakari/science/students/prospective-undergrad/experiences/experience/charli-sakariSciencesite://Science/science/students/prospective-undergrad/experiences/experience/charli-sakaricathie1318652988225cathie1328119856827Navigation LevelUndefinedpage-stateCoding completewriter-emailhours-writing2hours-editing1hours-codingprototypeNodevelopment-statusattention-needed
Charli Sakari - Physics and Astronomy
is a PhD graduate student in the department of Physics and Astronomy. Her PhD project will investigate the chemical abundances of distant globular clusters around the Andromeda Galaxy. This information could provide valuable information about the formation and evolution of galaxies and their clusters. Charli was recently awarded a Vanier CGS Fellowship, which provides funding over three years. This award is granted based on leadership skills and academic potential.
Charli has a keen interest in music, having served as a marching band drum major and a student play director. She's tutored students in elementary schools and is an astronomy volunteer through the department and the Let's Talk Science program.
Once she's finished her PhD, Charli plans on doing post-doctoral work and hopes to secure a faculty position at a university or college. She’ll continue to work with children on a volunteer basis.
Learn about Let’s Talk Science and other outreach programs in the Faculty of Science.
lisa-honeymantrue1386042810960systemLisa Honeyman/science/students/prospective-undergrad/experiences/experience/lisa-honeymanSciencesite://Science/science/students/prospective-undergrad/experiences/experience/lisa-honeymancathie1318650974158vgl1333645086609Navigation LevelUndefinedpage-stateCoding completewriter-emailhours-writing2hours-editing1hours-coding.25prototypeNodevelopment-statusattention-needed
Lisa Honeyman - Biochemistry and Microbiology
Lisa Honeyman is a BSc student in microbiology (co-op/honours). She chose the University of Victoria for many reasons including proximity to her family in Nanaimo, the green space we are fortunate to have, and the positive comments she’d heard about UVic’s co-operative education (co-op) program. Co-op integrates classroom and work place learning. Students alternate academic terms on campus with relevant, paid, full-time work experience.
Lisa enjoyed living in residence for her first year. At UVic, we take great pride in offering guaranteed accommodation to first year students coming directly from high school. Learn more about housing options.
Co-op stands out
Lisa has completed four co-op terms; three in Victoria and one in Montreal. When asked what stands out about her experience at UVic to date, she replied, “Co-op definitely stands out the most from all my experiences at UVic. It’s given me so many opportunities I wouldn’t otherwise have had. Participating in co-op allowed me to work in several different research labs, and gain work experience while I completed my degree. I also had the opportunity to spend this summer living and working in Montreal.”
Lisa urges all students to take advantage of the numerous opportunities UVic has to offer–living in residence, co-op, honours and clubs. She plans to pursue further education, perhaps a master’s degree.
Learn more about co-operative education
and the Department of Biochemistry and Microbiology
deanna-pineautrue1386042810960systemDeanna Pineau/science/students/prospective-undergrad/experiences/experience/deanna-pineauSciencesite://Science/science/students/prospective-undergrad/experiences/experience/deanna-pineaucathie1318649847113cathie1328564150903Navigation LevelUndefinedpage-stateCoding completewriter-emailhours-writing2hours-editing1hours-codingprototypeNodevelopment-statusattention-needed
Deanna Pineau - Physics and Astronomy
Deanna Pineau has always had an interest in space, and started her physics and astronomy undergraduate degree at the University of Victoria with a $26,000 UVic Excellence Award.
Deanna took part in co-operative education (co-op) during her degree, and spent exciting work terms at Science World in Vancouver, BC; the Joint Astronomy Centre in Hilo, Hawaii; the Space Physics unit at the University Of Calgary, AB; and the Institute for Quantum Computing in Waterloo, ON. Co-operative education integrates classroom and work place learning. Students alternate academic terms on campus with relevant, paid, full-time work experience.
She was selected to attend the opening ceremonies of the International Year of Astronomy in Paris, France, in 2009, and delivered a public lecture on the evolution of the universe in 2010. She kept busy as president of the UVic Physics and Astronomy Student Society, and graduated from UVic in April 2011 with a Combined Honours in Physics and Astronomy Bachelor of Science, with Distinction and Physics Co-op.
With her BSc behind her, Deanna will be heading to the Perimeter Scholars International Master’s program in theoretical physics. After her master’s degree is complete, Deanna intends to pursue a PhD and eventually become a professor/researcher in theoretical physics.
michael-suitstrue1386042810960systemMichael Suits/science/students/prospective-undergrad/experiences/experience/michael-suitsSciencesite://Science/science/students/prospective-undergrad/experiences/experience/michael-suitscathie1318649387806cathie1326916901496Navigation LevelUndefinedpage-stateCoding completewriter-emailhours-writing2hours-editing1hours-coding.25prototypeNodevelopment-statusattention-needed
Michael Suits - Biochemistry and Microbiology
Dr. Michael Suits is a Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research Postdoctoral Scholar in the Department of Biochemistry and Microbiology. He chose UVic because of the high quality of its faculty and the research being conducted here.
Mike found that as an undergraduate and graduate student, schedules and courses are highly structured and to a large degree organized for you. As a post-doc researcher he's enjoying the amazing freedom to do science in a relatively unencumbered way - designing and conducting the experiments, analyzing the results, and writing manuscripts. Being a post-doc also provides the freedom to travel and live in new cities while conducting high quality research.
The excitement of research
When asked what he finds most exciting about his research at UVic, Mike replied, “Our research is focused on characterizing what proteins look like and regularly involves viewing their interactions with important chemical such as drugs or, in our case, carbohydrates. When you solve the structure of a protein for the first time, you are literally the first person on Earth to glimpse a unique and sometimes unexpected and elegant entity. It's an amazing feeling to have your hard work and research intuition culminate in such an amazing eureka moment right in front of your eyes on a computer monitor.”
Getting by with a little help from his friends
Mike receives daily support from family, friends and colleagues, which has kept him and his research moving forward. He believes research isn't conducted in isolation but seems to grow when it's discussed and shared. You never really know where and when inspiration will strike or how looking at a problem from another perspective will help interpretations of results and lead to development of new strategies. Daily lab discussions have introduced him to new scientific outlooks and provided support to overcome experimental obstacles.
Advice to new researchers
Mike’s advice to new researchers at UVic would be while staying in the now in the sense of enjoying your experience and research milestones, plan a year or so ahead of where you are today. That way you can keep striving toward new goals and smooth transitions between educational and professional seasons. That, and choose a strong supervisor whose research excites you, but still retains their sense of fun.
Find out more about biochemistry and microbiology and research in the Faculty of Science.
luc-simardtrue1386042810960systemLuc Simard/science/students/prospective-undergrad/experiences/experience/luc-simardSciencesite://Science/science/students/prospective-undergrad/experiences/experience/luc-simardseant.admin1318550718494dshaykew.admin1333122277347Navigation LevelUndefinedpage-stateEditing completewriter-emailhours-writinghours-editinghours-codingprototypeNodevelopment-statusattention-needed
Luc Simard - Physics and Astronomy
Imagine a telescope so powerful that it would let you see a loonie coin being held by someone in Calgary—from Victoria. Sound far-fetched? The technology is closer to reality than you think.
An international team of scientists and engineers is currently building the world’s largest and most advanced optical telescope—the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT)—and University of Victoria researchers are playing a key role in its development.
When the TMT starts observing the sky in 2019, astronomers will be able to detect and study light from the earliest stars and galaxies, analyze planets around nearby stars, and test many of the fundamental laws of physics.
The TMT project team has selected the summit of Mauna Kea on the Big Island of Hawaii as its preferred site.
With its 30-metre diameter mirror, the TMT will have nine times the light-gathering power of the largest telescopes in use today and more than 10 times the resolution of the Hubble Space Telescope.
“TMT will be 200 times more powerful than the largest telescope currently in operation,” says Dr. Luc Simard, an astronomer with UVic’s Department of Physics and Astronomy and the Herzberg Institute of Astrophysics. “It will literally show us the birth of galaxies, stars and exoplanetary systems.”
The TMT project is a partnership among the California Institute of Technology, the University of California, and the Association of Canadian Universities for Research in Astronomy (ACURA). Simard is the science instruments group leader for the TMT project. “We currently have three main teams spanning 15 different institutions—not to mention industry—and two continents,” he explains. “It’s already a big job, and it will get bigger as our new partners—Japan, China and India—get integrated into the instrument teams and we get started on actual construction.”
Another key UVic contributor to the telescope project is mechanical engineer Dr. Colin Bradley and his adaptive optics team, which is developing a solution to one of the main challenges facing TMT observations—turbulence from the Earth’s atmosphere. The TMT will have a set of deformable mirrors that “will basically change shape in real time to compensate for image distortions caused by the Earth’s atmosphere,” says Bradley. “In terms of the engineering, this is an extremely complex system. Canada is a world leader in this kind of work.”
Simard’s research interests are the formation and evolution of distant galaxies. “I’m an astronomer who has learned to translate science into engineering and engineering into science. You can’t take courses for this. It has to come by osmosis, although others call it ‘baptism by fire,’” he laughs.
Simard’s TMT experience is reflected in course material he prepares for his graduate course in instrumentation, and it is often a focus of class discussions. “We talk about everything from creating artificial stars up in the atmosphere using powerful lasers, to developing deformable mirrors that can change shape hundred of times a second.”
The telescope isn’t just about the discoveries that it will help make, stresses Simard. It’s also about taking astronomical instruments to the next level.
“TMT represents a change of scale for astronomers,” says Simard. “We’re used to building instruments that are the size of a small car. Now we’re talking about instruments that are the size of a house.”
jessica-simpsontrue1386042810960systemJessica Simpson/science/students/prospective-undergrad/experiences/experience/jessica-simpsonSciencesite://Science/science/students/prospective-undergrad/experiences/experience/jessica-simpsonseant.admin1318541369885cathie1327010458707Navigation LevelUndefinedpage-stateCoding completewriter-emailhours-writinghours-editinghours-codingprototypeNodevelopment-statusattention-needed
Jessica Simpson - Biology
Jessica Simpson has an academic resume that could have taken this bright young neuroscience researcher anywhere she wanted. But Simpson, who completed a combined biology and psychology honours degree in 2009 and recently received her MSc in biology, chose to stick to her hometown of Victoria when it came time to pursue—and continue—her studies.
After working in Dr. Brian Christie’s lab during her undergraduate honours project, Simpson knew she’d be staying in UVic’s Division of Medical Sciences for her master’s. "I just loved working in the lab, so I stayed on the project and started my master's the following year," she says. Read more about Jessica.
arif-babultrue1386042810960systemArif Babul/science/students/prospective-undergrad/experiences/experience/arif-babulSciencesite://Science/science/students/prospective-undergrad/experiences/experience/arif-babulseant.admin1318013917122cathie1322162254260Navigation LevelUndefinedpage-stateFinalwriter-emailhours-writinghours-editing1hours-codingprototypeNodevelopment-statusattention-needed
Arif Babul - Physics and Astronomy
UVic astrophysicist Arif Babul uses powerful supercomputers to replicate the 14-billion-year history of the universe in complex simulations that produce 3D models of galaxies and galaxy systems. The simulations, which can be observed as they change over time, are helping unravel the intricate relationships between gas, stars and dark matter.
Babul remembers the exact moment when his lifelong passion for outer space began. It was July 20, 1969, and he was one of millions around the world who were glued to their televisions as Apollo 11 astronaut Neil Armstrong stepped down onto the moon and into history.
“I was completely captivated by the whole idea of space and trying to understand the universe,” says Babul, who was six years old at the time. That moment launched him on an intellectual path that, years later, has led to his title as a University of Victoria Distinguished Professor. The title is the highest academic honour that the university can bestow on a faculty member. It is awarded to individuals who have achieved great distinction in teaching and research, and who have made a substantial contribution to the university and the wider community.
Babul is a specialist in theoretical cosmology who studies the origins of structure in the universe and the evolution of galaxies. He develops theories of how the universe evolved, and tests them with computer-based numerical simulations.
His quest is to understand how the universe evolved from an extremely smooth state at the time of the “Big Bang” 13.7 billion years ago, into the rich tapestry of dark matter and galaxies that we see today.
“Since the beginning of human civilization we have been wondering how the universe came into being, how life evolved, how it all came together,” he says. “It’s a fascinating riddle.”
Read about Dr. Babul's research.