Signe MacLennan, FHS Bachelor of Science graduand, has been awarded the 2021 Dean’s Convocation Medal

Passion for scientific discovery leads to Dean’s Convocation Medal for BSc graduand

June 21, 2021

By Geron Malbas

With a fascination for scientific discovery, Faculty of Health Sciences (FHS) Bachelor of Science graduand Signe MacLennan has tackled her undergraduate career with the desire to learn and generate new knowledge. She is the 2021 recipient of the Dean's Convocation Medal, an annual award that recognizes graduating students that have accomplished outstanding academic achievements.

Getting involved in research was a highlight of MacLennan’s BSc experience, and her curiosity drew her to seek out research opportunities at SFU. Her first opportunity was with Biological Sciences professor Gerhard Gries studying spiders, leading to a published paper of their research. She was then awarded an undergraduate student research award to work with FHS professor Zabrina Brumme to research HIV. Her work in Brumme’s lab strengthened her research expertise and deepened her understanding of HIV’s effect on women.

“I helped with an ongoing study on women living with HIV, who are currently an underrepresented group in the scientific literature,” she explains. “Most importantly, I came to understand research as a way that we can collectively learn more about the world and in doing so generate new knowledge that can be used as a tool to improve the lives of others.”

MacLennan also used her passion for learning to engage with students in a lower division genetics course as a peer tutor. She also enjoyed working with kids and seeing their excitement for science in the Science in Action program at SFU, a program that runs science workshops for school-age children visiting the university.

With the completion of her BSc, she is excited to start at UBC in Medical Genetics researching cancer genomics. Some of the most valuable things she learned from FHS include seeing success in science built on interdisciplinary collaboration, and lifelong learning.

“Science is far reaching and encompasses many subfields. When scientists in different subfields work together this often generates great insight needed to solve difficult problems,” she explains. “Secondly and more importantly, my courses in FHS have taught me that learning is lifelong. In other words, to be curious and to never stop asking questions.”