‘Mastering biology’ series introduced

Mt. A’s masters students share advice.

Two of Mount Allison’s oft unheard of masters students have started a new information program, called Mastering Biology, catered to helping undergraduates learn the ins-and-outs of Mt. A’s biology program.

“We have a working relationship with the profs here,” said Amy Brown, one of its organizers, “we felt we had a wealth of knowledge that wasn’t getting utilized, which could allow us to take on things that profs say students always have questions about.”

Amy Brown and Kami Harris are master of science candidates working with Vett Lloyd, and are themselves graduates of Mt. A’s Bachelor of Science program. Brown’s research involves fruit fly genetic imprinting; Harris’s involves epigenetics in cancer cells.

According to Brown, “The idea came to me in the middle of the night, and I brainstormed it with Dr. Lloyd and Kami. We brought it to the undergrads working in our labs, and they told us it was a really great idea.”

One of those undergrads was in the Bioscience Society and brought it to the group’s attention. “They all loved it,” said Harris, “they organize the logistics, and [we] organize the masters students and plan the seminar.”

Mastering Biology had its first session on October 16, called “Tips and Tricks.” It was designed as a general introduction to the series, and included advice on labs, papers, and lectures. Their next planned event is a session on lab reports and presentations, and how different professors and lab instructors grade these. The date is to be announced, but it will be taking place in November. They hope for a better turnout to this session, especially among first- and second-year students.

“It’s stuff we wish we knew in first year,” Brown said. For next semester, they are planning a session for third-year students about the process of completing an honours degree.

Both students believe there is potential in the series for more than just advice. “I see it as not only something for the undergraduates,” said Brown, “but as something for masters students as well, as a way to get involved.” She also noted that at Mt. A, graduate students tend not to teach, so this program is an opportunity for them to have teaching-related experience.

Because of its recent foundation, Brown and Harris have yet to explore the possibility of similar programs in other departments. “If we find success with it, we’ll definitely go to other departments with the idea.”

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