Hello all,

Welcome to the new graduate students!

I would like to start by congratulating and welcoming all who have signed on to our graduate program for 2020-21. I realize that this is a strange time to be starting graduate school but I would like to say on behalf of the entire department, that we’re delighted you’re here. Normally we would all be off at our departmental retreat at this time however that’s just not possible at the moment – something to look forward to once this is all over.


Student awards:

I’m delighted to announce the following grad student and postdoctoral fellow awards:

Kathleen Orrell (Melnyk Lab) Centennial Award in honour of Sela Cheifetz

Brandon McLeod (Julien Lab), Connell Award for best paper.

Edurne Rujas (Julien Lab), Connell Award for best all-round Postdoctoral Fellow

Nick Demers (Kim Lab), Scott Award

Stephanie Tan (Nodwell Lab), Pfizer Award

Congratulations to you all – richly deserved! All award winners will be giving short presentations on their work at an upcoming student seminar slot – stay tuned.


Download the app

If you are looking for information relating to university precautions and plans around working on campus during the pandemic you can find much of what you need here:


Contact tracing is going to be important now that all the undergraduates are back on campus. It’s worth stressing that the total number of students, faculty and other personnel in the various campus buildings (incl MSB, MaRS, the Donnelly – as well as our federated institutes at Sick Kids, Sunnybrook, St. Michael’s Hospital and the Lunenfeld) will remain well below normal. Furthermore, physical distancing measures and mandatory mask rules are in effect at all locations. The overall risk level should therefore remain as well managed as possible.

Nevertheless, I urge you to download Health Canada’s covid19 tracking app. It is safely anonymized and uses Bluetooth technology to determine whether you’ve come into proximity with anyone who has been exposed to the virus.  You can find information about the app here:



In the event that exposure to SARS-cov2…

There have been a few questions about how to respond to a possible covid19 exposure or suspected case. The university has systems in place for tracking exposure, decontaminating research spaces and communicating with any proximal people. If you feel sick or go to get tested please let the university’s occupational health nurse know. They will coordinate the response. You can reach their office here:


Should you need to undergo a 14 day quarantine for any reason (necessary travel, visiting sick relatives/friends, positive diagnosis etc) please know that this does not cut into your vacation time.  Any vacation planned during the school year or next summer should be discussed with your supervisor but otherwise, we do not want to discourage people from taking care of their health and protecting their colleagues during this time.



The university has purchased an educational Zoom license for Instructors and Staff. This should prove useful to anyone who needs to set up meetings for teaching or other academic purposes. Information can be found here:



Health and Wellness

Let’s hope the worst of the pandemic is behind us. But I think we can all expect some ongoing stressful for a while longer yet. Given this, Nana Lee wisely suggested that I remind you all about the university’s wellness resources.

For grad students


For Faculty



That’s all for now – all the best to everyone for a great semester. Please stay in touch!


Justin Nodwell
Biochemistry Department