Faculty Profile: Dr. David Baillie, Molecular Biology and Biochemistry

October 12, 2012

We're delighted to profile the winners of the 2012 Dean's Awards for Excellence in Graduate Studies. Dr. David Baillie received an award for Excellence in Graduate Supervision.

Dr. David Baillie came to Simon Fraser University in 1974 and since that time, has supervised 20 master's and 20 PhD students to completion. Their success rate is high: Nearly all of them are engaged in successful careers — among their ranks are professors, a Dean and three Fellows of the Royal Society of Canada, as well as a PhD student who subsequently received an honorary degree from SFU for his research accomplishments and four former students who have received SFU Alumni awards.

He has a tried and true process for training new graduate students. As they join his lab, they're mentored by his lab manager and senior students. All of his students present their research in weekly group meetings — it helps them learn how to critically analyze their data and give and take constructive feedback.

He also served as Chair of the then-new Department of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry (MBB) from 1998–2006. In that capacity, he implemented a number of departmental practices that have contributed significantly to MBB student successes, including a policy that all incoming students must meet with their supervisory committee during their first two months in the program, so that a relationship is built from the beginning and expectations are set on both sides of the relationship. This policy was built on his decades of success in supervising graduate students.

His graduate program chair adds, "Dr. Baillie's students over the years have had a strong track record in competing for internal and external fellowships. This record is especially impressive if you consider that he often selects graduate students who have checkered academic records — but have shown an unusual talent for research — that he is able to identify from the record and his interviews. His skill in this regard is legendary amongst MBB faculty who often seek his advice on specific applicants."

His past students have been so thankful for his mentorship that they've even established an endowed fellowship in his name: the Baillie Graduate Fellowships in Molecular and Cellular Biology.

The 2013 Dean of Graduate Studies Awards for Excellence are open for nominations. Deadline for nominations is May 15, 2013.

Tags: Achievements; profiles; molecular biology and biochemistry, Faculty of Science

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