I was born/raised in : Québec, Québec
I now live in : Toronto, Ontario
I did my training or studies in : Cegep diploma in life sciences, from Garneau Cegep in Quebec City. Bachelor's degree in biology, problem-based learning program, Université du Québec à Montréal, Montréal. M.Sc. in biology, specialization in ecotoxicology, Université du Québec à Montréal. Ph.D. in biology, specialization in toxicology, INRS - Institut Armand-Frappier, Laval. Postdoctoral training in environmental and occupational health, Université de Montréal, Montréal.
What I do at work
My days are never the same, which makes my job very interesting! Most of my time is spent in research. Specifically, I develop research projects to answer health questions from communities affected by changes in their environment. For example, I might do research on the possible health effects of chemicals released into the air by a local industry.
These research projects involve reading the scientific literature on these topics and designing the research projects. There is fieldwork as well as doing laboratory analysis and experiments. The results of our research are presented to the community and to scientists. Of course, I don't do all this work alone! I work with colleagues at the University of Toronto and other institutions across the country. I also work with Masters and PhD students who devote their time to these projects.
I also teach courses in biology and environmental health to undergraduate, graduate and doctoral students. This is a very motivating part of my job. Teaching allows me to share knowledge and also learn a lot from my students! Specific skills for this job include science (e.g., chemistry, biology) and math.
My career path is
In high school, I didn't really know what I wanted to do. The one thing I did know was that I really liked biology! My path became a little clearer towards the end of Cegep (grade 12). In high school and Cegep, I actually had a lot of trouble with math and physics. However, I persisted and with the help of tutors, I passed those courses. This was important because they were required to be admitted into the biology program in university.
In high school, I even had a teacher tell me that I wasn't smart enough to do a degree in science. Even though this hurt me a lot, it was a great motivator for me! I really enjoyed my biology program, and that's really where my path in toxicology started. I was fortunate to have great mentors. There were several inspiring women in STEM, who encouraged me and gave me great opportunities throughout my PhD and postdoc. I hope to be able to offer the same support to students who join my lab.
I am motivated by
What motivates me is working with communities. I love providing them with the necessary support to carry out research projects based on their needs. Another great source of motivation for me is to create knowledge, to discover something! Finally, interacting with students, both in the classroom and in the lab, is always an enriching experience.
How I affect people’s lives
As a professor-researcher in environmental health, I hope that my work and that of my lab members and colleagues contribute to the advancement of knowledge about the impacts of the environment on human health. We hope that this knowledge is used to benefit the communities most affected by these environmental changes. Our research might be used to develop policies and regulations regarding environmental contaminants that are hazardous to health.
Outside of work I
I love to cook! It's usually one of the activities I do on the weekends to unwind from my work. I also try to work out every week, either by running or spinning.
My advice to others
Do not to let academic failures in high school determine the rest of your life!