Message from the Chair, Justin Nodwell.

Hello all,

I hope that your returns (partial or otherwise) to lab work have gone as smoothly as possible. None of the ‘new normal’ is perfect and there are some nagging problems that are still being worked on at our various locations. But I think we all agree that it is good and necessary to have this work going again.

In the mean time here are a couple of departmental updates.

First the not so good news:

This will likely come as no surprise but it’s still unfortunate. With all the uncertainty around how long we’ll need to maintain physical distancing and the possibility of second waves of covid19, we have decided to cancel the 2020 retreat. We will still hold graduate award talks and the Theo Hofman Lecture, however these will take place online during our weekly seminar slot in the fall. Thanks to Jean-Philippe, Cordula and the BGSU for their hard work.  This is a very worthwhile event and I’m sure we’ll be back to it in 2021 better than ever.

The rest of the news ranges from not bad to pretty good.

I suspect that everyone is conscious of the fact that the current situation might have a negative impact on the departmental budget. At this time there is no concrete information about that however, one thing I have been assured by both Dean Young and VP Boon is that academic recruiting can go ahead in 2020-21. The ACC is debating whether we’re going to go ahead with our Assistant Professor recruit in the coming year and, if we decide that now’s the time then we’ve at least got the green light to do so.


Trainee awards and scholarships

I sent a note around on Wednesday announcing that the nominations for our annual trainee awards are now open.  Please note the Pfizer award in particular, as this is a new one. Note that this is a $34,000 award supporting a full stipend for one year. Any PhD student who does not hold another major scholarship (CIHR, NSERC, OGS or any of the major foundational awards) is eligible for nomination.


Promotions and appointments:

Jean-Philippe Julien – promoted to Associate Professor

Karen Maxwell – accepted our offer of a tenure stream appointment in Biochemistry

Spencer Freeman – newly appointed Assistant Professor

Roula Andreopoulos – promoter to full Professor, Teaching Stream. It’s worth pointing out that Roula is the first such promotion in the Faculty of Medicine.

Congratulations to everyone and welcome to the department Spencer!


Undergraduate program

As a result of a herculean effort by our undergraduate coordinator, Alex Ensminger and the undergraduate committee, almost all of the details about our undergraduate courses are now sorted out. There are a few questions, and I know people are particularly interested to know the status of our undergraduate research courses – Alex will have an update on that information in the next week.


Graduate Program

A similar herculean effort by Alex Palazzo and the graduate committee has kept our grad program and recruitment on an even keel. As indicated above, we are planning to hold the weekly student seminars and the Connell Lectures online during the fall semester. Carrie Harber will be sending out an email to the graduate students by mid July to determine who will be speaking in the upcoming academic year.


Grad courses

Thanks to everyone who volunteered to give a grad course during this time of reduced lab access – either by mounting a new course or by moving a previously scheduled course up. The current list is included below for everyone’s reference.


EDI Workshop

Members of the Biochemistry Department, in partnership with MBP, LMP, and Immunology are invited to a workshop centered on how to be a better ally, on Tuesday, July 14 at 10:00 am. Following a brief talk, we will split into small breakout groups to discuss scenarios, inspired by actual events in the departments, that examine ways to implement these practices in our everyday work.

Space is limited, so registration will be on a first-come-first-served basis. If you are interested in attending, please submit the registration request form no later than 4 PM, Friday, July 10.

Contact Nana Lee for any questions.


Best to all,