2019 David Thomson Award for Graduate Supervision and Teaching

On this page:
Chantal Autexier
Louise Larose | Vedat Verter



Prof. Chantal Autexier, Anatomy and Cell BiologyChantal Autexier, Anatomy and Cell Biology

“My door is always open.”


I earned my graduate degree from the Microbiology & Immunology Department of McGill University, completed postdoctoral training with Dr. Carol Greider at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in New York. I joined McGill in 1997, and am now a Professor in the Department of Anatomy & Cell Biology and Graduate Program Director of the Cell and Molecular Biology Graduate Program. My research focus is to understand how telomere maintenance, which is critical for genome stability and cell survival, is altered in cancer and premature aging syndromes. I have trained over twenty graduate students, who have pursued further graduate and postdoctoral training and contributed to research as university professors and research professionals and teaching in academic and private sectors.

Approach to graduate supervision

Supervision of graduate students in my laboratory starts with teaching best practices of academic research integrity. I mentor students in interpreting their results, help them to troubleshoot, discuss the next experiments to be performed, request protocols and reagents from colleagues, provide them access to specific training they require and with opportunities for collaboration. I encourage them to present their studies locally, nationally and internationally to allow for broader critical review, and to foster their independent growth. I also encourage and assist them in drafting their scientific manuscripts, studentship applications, and abstracts for meetings, by providing timely and relevant feedback. I extend opportunities for my graduate students to write book chapters and review articles so that they may improve their abilities to read, interpret, critique, summarize and discuss experimental results and develop their writing and communication skills. This exercise also ensures that they can differentiate between original contribution and plagiarism. I also provide senior students the chance to co-review manuscripts, and contribute to our research grant applications. My door is always open to discuss experiments or any other lab, course, or career related issues. For all graduate students, regardless of their future desire to pursue an academic career, I ensure they are aware of what a research career entails. My goal is that they acquire a comprehensive skill set, including teaching, communication, problem-solving and critical analysis, that is applicable to varied careers.


Dr. Autexier’s evident passion for the scientific discipline and steadfast support of her students guided my choice to transition into Ph.D. studies in her charge. The teaching and supervisory excellence of Dr. Autexier is exemplified by the research environment she has built and sustained at McGill University’s Lady Davis Institute of the Jewish General Hospital. She is always accessible and approachable, and is actively engaged in each of her students’ projects and academic lives. Dr. Autexier helps me troubleshoot experimental issues in the lab, seeks my input in project planning, and lends me her expert guidance when I am facing difficulties choosing classes or studying concepts in cellular biology. Dr. Autexier also ensures my professional development beyond the lab by supporting me to present my research both locally and internationally, encouraging me to formulate my own manuscripts, involving me in scientific review processes, and providing teaching opportunities. 

Deanna MacNeil, current PhD candidate

As an internationally recognized and highly regarded scientist in the field of telomere and telomerase biology, Dr. Autexier creates a highly stimulating learning environment and established a strong trusting relationship with each of us. Dr. Autexier displays excellence in teaching, emanates positive energy, confidence and humility. As a supervisor, she values and empowers her students, making us feel that we can make a difference. She offers top-notch quality of supervision and is readily available, approachable and reachable for discussion. She is also willing to listen, consider and accept new ideas proposed by her trainees, thus giving way to creativity. With Dr. Autexier’s incessant support and encouragement, I completed my degree in her lab with an amazing sense of accomplishment. It is her passion and dedication for her research and her students that significantly influenced my decision to pursue a career as an independent researcher in the telomere and telomerase field. 

Dr. Tsz Wai (Josephine) Chu, postdoc at the Institute for Research in Immunology and Cancer (IRIC), University of Montreal


Prof. Louise Larose, PhysiologyLouise Larose, Physiology

“It has always been a privilege to contribute to the formation of the future generation of young scientists.”


I first obtained a M.Sc. degree in Physiology and Biochemistry from the University of Sherbrooke in 1974. My thesis was in the field of the exocrine pancreas. I then was recruited as research assistant by the Department of Biology at the University of Sherbrooke and studied the mechanisms regulating the exocrine pancreatic function for 12 years. In 1988, I joined the laboratory of Dr. André De Léan to pursue my training in the field of the molecular biology of the atrial natriuretic receptor and obtained a Ph.D. degree from the Department of Pharmacology at University of Montreal in 1992. My interests in molecular mechanisms regulating intracellular signal transduction brought me to join the laboratory of Dr. Tony Pawson at the Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute in Toronto (Ontario) to work as a postdoctoral fellow on receptor tyrosine kinases signaling (1992-95). In 1995, I was recruited as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Medicine, Division of Endocrinology & Metabolism. I was promoted Associate Professor in 2004 and I was awarded FRSQ Chercheur National in 2007. My research focus is on molecular mechanisms regulating cellular responses in physiological and pathological conditions.

Approach to graduate supervision

Through one-to-one and day-to-day interactions, along with weekly laboratory meetings with my graduate students, I always had the objective to make my teaching interesting, motivating and of high quality. It was among my priorities to stimulate my student creativity and improve their knowledge, as well as their curiosity and abilities of thinking critically. As a graduate student supervisor, I felt responsible to share my excitement about science and scientific research, and keep my students informed of recent scientific developments in terms of concepts and technologies. For me, it has been always a privilege to contribute to the formation of the future generation of young scientists. 

Prof. Vedat Verter, ManagementVedat Verter, Management

“My primary role as a supervisor is to educate students about standards and expectations of cutting edge research.”


I specialize on the application of operations research for tackling challenges in the public sector. My areas of research are service chain design, hazardous materials logistics, sustainable operations and healthcare operations management. My work in these four areas is well recognized through top tier journal publications as well as invited presentations around the globe. In the area of healthcare, I focus on preventive, primary, emergency, acute and chronic care processes, as well as their interaction. I serve as Editor-in-Chief of Socio-Economic Planning Sciences, an international journal focusing on public sector decision making.

Approach to graduate supervision

In the Master-level courses, my objective is to help the students to develop a solid understanding of the scientific foundations of the subject matter, an appreciation of the current challenges faced by practitioners, and the skillset to use the state-of-the-art tools for problem solving and decision making. I adopt a multi-faceted approach to achieve these learning objectives by the use of cases, real life projects, guest speakers from industry, student debates and interactive games as well as lectures. This enables me to create an immersive and experiential learning environment that facilitates student learning. My primary role as PhD supervisor is to steer the students away from endeavors that are unlikely to be productive (based on my expertise) and to educate them about the standards and expectations of cutting edge research that is likely to be published in leading journals (based on my experience). Consequently, an effective supervisor, in my opinion, is one who keeps the student focused and facilitates the writing of a high quality dissertation in five years. To this end, my involvement decreases as the student progresses from the first to the last chapter in the thesis in order to allow her/him to graduate as an independent researcher. Majority of my PhD students and post-docs chose an academic career, while a few decided to work in the health sector or in consulting firms. An important aspect of my role as their supervisor is to also help them in securing the positions they aspire.


Dr. Verter was very involved in the progress of his doctoral students, and was always available for meetings and guidance. We had regular meetings where I would explain my progress, and he would make corrections and provide suggestions. I always came away impressed by his insights and perspective, which invariably improved the quality of the work. Thus, the quality of supervision was very-high and my progress was tracked earnestly, and admittedly, I have attempted to replicate both with my own doctoral students. 

Dr. Manish Verma, Associate Professor, Operations Management Area at De Groote School of Business, McMaster University

Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial 4.0 International LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial 4.0 International License.
Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies, McGill University.

Back to top