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. For more than a year the world-wide COVID-19 pandemic has impacted all aspects of society. Fortunately, the development of highly effective vaccines has provided powerful tools to address this devasting disease, and in the Montreal area restrictions aimed at curtailing the spread of COVID-19 are gradually being lifted. Even though we are moving towards a state that resembles pre-pandemic times, 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.
As you have likely heard through various sources, McGill University expects all students to be present in Montreal for the 2021-22 academic year. Given the latest predictions for what the situation will be at the start of the Fall term, it is likely that, except for some large class courses most courses will be given “in-person”. At this moment in time, McGill has not yet finalized which courses will be delivered through remote delivery platforms, that decision will be made later in the summer. However, when you register for your courses, you may notice that some will have a room assigned to it while others do not; those that do not have a room assigned, are considered for remote delivery, those that do have a room assigned will be delivered “in-person”, unless conditions worsen. For you as a student in the Biochemistry program, this implies that it is possible that some of your classes will be offered in a “remote delivery” mode, but we are hoping that for many of your courses will you come to campus.
Being a student at McGill is not only about taking courses. Outside of lectures and labs, our students interact with each other, forming groups that support the academic goals and enhance the learning experience. In our department, the Biochemistry Undergraduate Society (BUGS) is the organization that can help you with getting the most out of being a McGill student. BUGS has organized a “buddy system” where you and a few of your fellow students can be teamed up with senior students, thus providing you with an immediate network. In other words, irrespective of your remote/in-person courses, you will have the “McGill experience”.
I expect you will have more questions about your studies in our department. Therefore, the department 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 meantime, I wish you a safe and healthy summer break, and I hope to see you at McGill in September.
Albert Berghuis, Ph.D.
Distinguished James McGill Professor and Chair