Message from Dr Albert Berghuis, Chair

Dear (Prospective) McGill Biochemistry Students,

First, I would like to congratulate you on having been accepted to pursue undergraduate studies in Biochemistry at McGill University. As you undoubtedly know, McGill University is not only one of the leading institutions of higher learning in Canada, but also among the top academic institutions in the world. Furthermore, the Department of Biochemistry is recognized as one of the very best Biochemistry departments in North-America, with our professors spearheading cutting-edge and ground-breaking research; research you’ll have an opportunity to participate in. Therefore, having been accepted to join our department is a testament to your accomplishments!

I do not need to tell you that currently we are living in extraordinary times. The world-wide COVID-19 pandemic has impacted all aspects of society. Therefore, I am sure you have questions on how the current crisis might be impacting your undergraduate studies in our department. This letter is aimed at addressing some of these questions.

First, as you have heard from McGill’s Provost and the Dean of Science, to ensure the safety of our student population, McGill has wisely decided to offer all Fall Term courses through remote delivery platforms. However, you may likely wonder how McGill will teach you Biochemistry through the internet. I can tell you that the professors in the Biochemistry Department have been working on this issue since the middle of March, and will continue to do so throughout the summer. We are adapting all of our Fall courses, complementing lectures with additional activities. We are restructuring the delivery of course materials so that students will have ample opportunity to interact with professors, teaching assistants, and fellow students in order to ask questions and practise what they have learned. Bottom line, while the way in which you will study Biochemistry will be different, what you learn will be the same; you will receive a world-class education at a world-class academic institution, by world-renowned professors who not only teach cutting-edge knowledge, but also have discovered that cutting-edge knowledge.

Being a student at McGill is not only about taking courses. Outside of courses, our students interact with each other, forming groups that supports their academic goals and help them get the most out of being a McGill student. In our department, the Biochemistry Undergraduate Society (BUGS) is also hard at work to adapt their activities to an online format. Most importantly for you, in addition to several social on-line events, where you can virtually meet your fellow students, they are organizing a “buddy system” where you and a few of your fellow students will be teamed up with senior students, thus providing you with an immediate network. In other words, while you might be physically far away from McGill, we will still give you as much of the “McGill experience” as possible.

I expect you will have more questions about your studies in our department. Therefore, both the department and BUGS will reach out to you over the summer with more information about the Fall semester. You can also contact us with questions, concerns, etc. Ms. Christine Laberge, your Student Affairs Officer/Advisor, is always eager to be of assistance. In the mean time, I wish you a safe and healthy summer break, and I hope to see you virtually at McGill in September.

Albert Berghuis, Ph.D.

Distinguished James McGIll Professor and Chair

Department of Biochemistry, McGill University

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