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Erin McConnell

Postdoctoral Fellow
Yingfu Li at McMaster University
Erin McConnell
Erin McConnell
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Erin McConnell is a Postdoctoral Fellow for Yingfu Li at McMaster University.

About me

I was born/grew up in: I was born in Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA, but I grew up all over Ontario, Canada

I now live in: Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

I completed my training/education at: Ph.D. (Chemistry) at Carleton University in Ottawa, ON, Canada. B.Sc. (Neuroscience) at Carleton University, Ottawa, ON, Canada

What I do at work

I work in a busy research lab. I work with several other people every day. We each have our own projects but also interact with each other when someone needs help with trouble shooting or learning a new technique. Since I have the most research experience, I mentor less experienced students at different stages of their careers. I've mentored almost 30 students ranging from high school students to Ph.D. candidates. In the work I'm doing I use very specialized equipment and techniques. Some of these techniques I learned as a graduate student and some I learned as an undergraduate. Part of the reason I love my job is because I learn new things every day! One of the benefits of working in science is that you get to meet many people from different cultures and backgrounds.

My career path is

When I was in high school, I “absolutely knew" I was going to be a medical doctor. I went into a medically related undergraduate program and intended to go to medical school directly after I finished my undergraduate degree. At my university, undergraduates are required to complete a 4th year research project. That was when I met an incredible mentor. This person fostered my love of research and teaching. I also learned that there was more than one way to "help people". After that experience, I decided to go into research instead of medicine. I went to graduate school after I got my B.Sc. and completed a Ph.D. in chemistry. I found a researcher whose work really interested me, and now I am working with him as a postdoctoral fellow.

I am motivated by

I love science and have a passion for science education and outreach. Working as a postdoctoral fellow allows me to focus on doing research as my "day-job". It also lets me get involved in science education and outreach in the community. I love being able to take a scientific idea and translate it into actual experimental results. I also love the moment when I'm sharing my love of science with others and I see them understand, and see their love of science grow.

How I affect people’s lives

The type of research I'm doing now is at what we call the basic science stage. This means that we are taking scientific ideas and seeing if we can make them work. We develop detection devices and diagnostic tools. We work with industry partners and medical professionals to move our work forward. Eventually we hope to get it to the stage where it will help people.

Outside of work I

When I'm not in the lab, I volunteer once a week with Girl Guides of Canada as a leader for a Guide unit. I also take highland dancing lessons.

My advice to others

If you are interested in scientific research, reach out to professors and get involved in research as soon as possible. There are many opportunities to get involved. You just have to ask! 

When I was a student, I enjoyed:
  • Music
  • Art
  • Drama
  • History
  • Literature and Language Arts
  • Math
  • Science
  • Technology
When I was a student, I would have described myself as someone who:
  • Brought People Together
  • Liked helping people
  • Organized activities for my friends
  • Enjoyed working with my hands
  • Was motivated by success
  • Wanted to be in charge
  • Liked being given free range to explore my ideas
  • Engaged in volunteer activities
  • Liked reading
  • Felt great satisfaction in getting good grades
  • Engaged in activities such as fishing
  • Learned Best by Doing

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