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From studies to teaching – Atlantic scientist comes full circle

(This is the first in a series of articles about the values of Atlantic Canadian science faculty)

Support, mentorship, networking. 

A few of the ingredients for success.

In 2012, Alyssa Doue (then Jaeschke) was one of three recipients of the Science Atlantic 50th Anniversary Undergraduate Travel Scholarship. Thanks to that scholarship, she had the opportunity to attend the 15th Symposium of the Latest Trends in Organic Synthesis in Ontario where she presented her own research, Investigation of the Nitronate-Nazarov Cyclization. 

Eight years later, we met Alyssa during interviews with faculty across different departments in Atlantic Canadian post-secondary institutions (always delighted to meet SA alumni!). She was one of the participants that helped us learn what is important to faculty, the challenges they face, and what would help them in their careers and their work with students. 

Alyssa is now a technician and part-time instructor at Saint Mary’s University in the chemistry department. During our interview, we touched on parts of her job that she finds satisfying, factors that help with career success, and some of the challenges/obstacles the science community needs to overcome. Here are a few of her comments:

What aspects of your job bring you satisfaction?

I just love being in the lab with the students and working with them and being able to help them figure out what’s going on in the experiments. Being able to  interact with them and help them work through any issues that they’re having or even just touch base with them, even if they’re not having issues just to see how they’re doing in the lab. I really like that interaction aspect of it all.

How important is it to you to connect with others in your field?

Being able to talk to another faculty member and say, “Hey, have you ever had this happen? Do you have some recommendations as to how I can work with that?” I think that’s really important, in terms of working with students but also just looking at the chemistry itself; if anything is going a little wonky you can say, “Hey, I saw this happen in the lab. What do you think is going on? Here’s what I think.” Collaboration in terms of chemistry, as well as the students, is really important.

If an organization in our region had unlimited resources with a mission of supporting science faculty and students, what would you have them do?

I think one of the main things is accommodations for the students that you don’t typically see in science, and helping them get into science. I think that’s the big thing. I look around my class and everyone is saying there’s not a lot of variety. There are definitely very few students with disabilities, either physical or learning disabilities. I feel like the accommodation for people like that, so that they can study science if that’s what they’re interested in, and creating or breaking down barriers so that they can get there, is important. 

[As well,] there are new and better ways for teaching. So new technologies and things like that. If we had unlimited funds and the sky’s the limit for ideas, let’s make high-tech classrooms where we can learn in different ways and all students can really benefit and learn science in their own way and understand everything fully in the way that’s best for them.

Next from Science Atlantic 

These are only a few of the subjects we touched on with Alyssa during our interview. We learned a lot more about collaboration and other topics in our conversations with her and other faculty members. We are excited to share more about the values of Atlantic Canadian science faculty through this series of articles and during our annual meeting on November 27, 2020. All are welcome to provide input into how we can support faculty in the region. Please RSVP here!