University Update : Third Year + Best uOttawa Science Profs

Wow, I don’t even know where to start. There was so much that happened third, year even before COVID. I just wanted to take a few minutes to reflect upon this past year, things I enjoyed and things I would do differently. I also included some of my favouite science (and helath science) profs at uOttawa!

Especially after these past few months, thinking back to last September feels like forever ago and thinking about who was in my life then and who is in my life now has changed a lot, though I’m not going into detail. I went to Spa Nordique, CASCO’s Gala, my first NHL hockey game, cross country skiing for the first time and many other amazing memories. However, the end of the school year was quite sad though because one of my best friends graduated and because of COVID she had to leave abruptly (Miss you already, Em!).


Academically this has been my best year yet in University, I ended my 2nd semster with straight A’s when up until then I had only received a few A’s in previous courses! It’s not really a secret that I struggled to keep up in first and part of second year, while I never failed a class, my GPA was not where I wanted it to be. Even though I spent soooooo much time studying (well more like just trying to keep up) in first year, I think it just took a while for me to really find what works best for me and honestly I attribute a lot of it to my iPad and Apple Pencil (I’ll do a post or video how I take notes). It was also 3rd year where I had many many options for classes and was really passionate about the subjects that were being taught. Something I also started to get better at this year was making time for ‘self-care’ and taking strategic breaks while studying. I also really tried to get my work done throughout the week so I had weekends off (even though many times, I still had schoolwork to do on the weekend).

Something different I did this year was joining Rotaract, and though I was worried about the time commitment, it actually motivated me to get my work done ahead of time. I also really enjoy the people and fellowship aspect of it, and I have met so many amazing people. Truth be told I was terrified to attend a meeting (I put it off for 2 years) but honestly it was great, everyone was so welcoming and I really thrived in the environment. I really wish I joined in first year.

In high school I was part of many clubs, sports teams and the arts but when I got to University my whole focus was on school. As important as school is, I have learned how important self-care is and how much better my schoolwork got when I started doing things I enjoy. This gave my mind (and body) and break from school and I felt refreshed when I went back to doing schoolwork. This made my studying and work much more efficient and even improved the quality. In January, I started going to a yoga class on campus each week and eventually joined a local studio (before COVID). In first year I would have thought of that as a waste of time when I could have been studying but now I see it as something that is just as important as school because I need to feel good (physiclaly and mentally) in order for that to be reflected in my work.


This past year I took 2 labs, and I enjoyed both very much! I had some amazing TA’s and profs. For my “Labo de la Biologie Cellulaire” (Cell Biology Lab), the lab set up was pretty unique compared to other undergrad labs I have taken. Instead of a new individual theme each week, this lab focused on the whole process. Each week we did a new “step” to eventually get to our final product. This style simulated how many research labs actually work and the whole process that goes into it. I found this to be very useful and cool to see how relevant this technology is in the “real world”. In short, the goal of this lab was to implant mamalian tissue cells into cellulose scafolds (we used apples), which is based off of a technique from Andrew Pelling, a uOttawa researcher (His TedTalk here). Applications for this technology in the future may include faster healing, graffing, and even bone regeneration all depending what cells are implanted.

Another class I throughly enjoyed was “Tech et Santé” (Health and Tech) with Prof. Fallavollita. This was one of my electives and since it was a health science course, I was one of very few who took the class without it being a requiment. I found the class very interesting and the prof was also very passionate and knowledgable about the subject (I think he has an engineering background)! I was very passsionate about the classs content and found the infromation to be quite useful. This was also one of the first actual oral presentations I had to do in Univeristy and it was in french (my second language) so that was quit nerve-racking, however it turned out great and it helped me to feel more confident about public speaking in french. It was also nice becuse french was not the profs primary lanuage so he spoke slower than some other profs which made it much easier for me (french as a second language student) to understand.

I also took 2 pharmaceutical classes, one was a very easy elective “Drugs 101” an the other was an actual science credit “Intro to biopharm” (both taught by Prof. Ogilvie). I enjoyed both and highly reccomend any class with Prof. Ogilvie, wether it’s a BPS or CHM class (I also had him for Organic Chemistry I). Intro to biopharm was really interesting and kinda hard because it required a decent amount of orgo chem knowledge but that’s my favourite chem so I didn’t mind.

As for my bio classes, I loved “Biologie de la Conservation” (Conservation Biology). Prof. Fréchette was amzing (I think she’s my new favourite prof), and since she was new, she was very open to advice and feedback which I find to be quite helpful, less intimidating and rare with “well established” profs. I also had her for “Écologie des Écosystème” (Ecosystem Ecology), which was fun but I found I was much more passionate about the content for conservation biology. If you can understand french you can check out the video presentation I did (with my group!) for conservation biology, “Les zoos et aquariums – bénéfiques ou nuisibles?”, which is one of my best and favourite papers that I ever wrote.

Lastly I cannot forget about Prof. Bonen, who was covering a sabbatical for the class “Molecular Evolution”. I took this class on a whim not expecting much and it ended up being on of my favourites. So glad she was the prof, she explained things so well, she was very welcoming for office hours (which isn’t something I usually utilize) and she even worked with Carl Woese, yes the one who defined Archea!!! (If your not in science this probably means nothing, but he’s a big deal!)

A class that I was very excited for but fell short was “General Microbiology” (I’m not going to disclose the prof because I don’t want to deter people from taking her other classes and I really did enjoy her previous class). I really wanted to love the class and even took it with said prof thinking it would be good but for many reasons I just didn’t enjoy it. If I knew what I know now, I probably would have taken it in french.

I’m very thankful for this past year and intrigued for this very uncertain upcoming year. Subscribe to see how this next year goes and for more school/University posts. Hope you enjoyed 🙂
~Tori Scherle~

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I'm 22 years old and starting my Masters in Biology at the University of Ottawa in September. I just recently graduated with my Honours BSc - Biology. I love photography, baking, plants & adventures!

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