Letter from the Chair – Volume 9, Issue 1

Who are we, what makes us unique, and where do we come from? We sometimes ask ourselves these questions, and in this remarkable issue of IMMpress Magazine, answers are given to us as key demographics from our Immunology graduate community. This serves to not only better understand how our graduate student body continues to evolve and grow, but also highlights the need for further reflection for us to effectively enact the principles of equity, diversity,…

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Alumni Interview with Dr. Akiko Iwasaki

Dr. Akiko Iwasaki is currently a professor at Yale University and an investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Her research is focused on the dynamics of innate immune responses and memory T cell functions against viruses at mucosal surfaces and leveraging this information to develop novel vaccine strategies. We had the opportunity to connect with Dr. Iwasaki to discuss her career, fighting misinformation during the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as her advocacy for equity…

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A Book Review of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

Henrietta Lacks died in agony on October 4th, 1951 due to the tumours that had spread throughout her body. In the end, the only thing she wanted was for her family to be taken care of, and this was a wish that did not become a reality. Although Henrietta’s physical body died, some proclaim that she has achieved immortal life as her cells still live on today through the infamous cell line, HeLa. Too often,…

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The Research Pentathlon: The History and Merit of Interdisciplinary Science

The pentathlon was a special event in the Olympic games of ancient Greece. Unlike other competitions, it featured five different events, testing an athlete’s ability to perform well in a variety of sports. Over time the popularity of the pentathlon faded and specialized events with specialized athletes became favoured in the Olympics we know today. Similarly, most scientists also specialize, working within a particular research field and often not branching outside of it. Scientific isolationism…

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Challenges of Being a New PI

Many people consider the field of academia to operate under a pure meritocracy – that is, your accomplishments and qualifications are the only factors that dictate your eventual success. This is best reflected in the famous motto of “publish or perish” that many associate with academic progress. While there are some elements of truth in this harsh statement, unfortunately the real truth is harsher still – there are also many non-meritocratic factors, such as race…

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Strategies to Promote EDI in STEM (A UofT Perspective)

The University of Toronto (UofT) has had a long-standing commitment to promoting Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) to ensure a safe and respectful working environment for their staff and students across the three campuses. More specifically, several Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Departments at UofT have fairly recently begun adjusting their foundational elements to include important principles that foster EDI.  Commonly known strategies used to promote EDI must consider the team composition and recruitment…

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Who Writes Science?

A Commentary on Equity, Diversity and Inclusion at Canadian and American Scientific Institutions Recent world events have popularized the catchphrase equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI). The University of Toronto defines these terms as follows: “Equity is the fair and respectful treatment of all people. Equity is the process; equality is the result. Diversity is the demographic mix of the community, with a focus on the representation of equity-deserving groups. Inclusion is the creation of an…

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Immigration Tug-of-War: Assessing Canada’s Fight to Attract Highly Skilled STEM Workers

In both Canada and the U.S., immigrants comprise a large proportion of university-educated workers who have at least a bachelor’s degree in a STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) field. A 2016 study by Statistics Canada found that immigrants with a bachelor’s degree were more likely to have studied in a STEM field compared to native-born Canadians or Americans. Despite this, more than 50% of STEM-educated immigrant workers still held non-STEM jobs in Canada, while…

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Religion’s Influence on the University – A Look Back in History

Religion and faith are an integral part of many people’s lives and have shaped the modern world. Christianity largely influenced western society as this religion was practiced by the majority of colonial powers. As the church and state were tightly intertwined through the development of western society, religious ideology had an impact on government, politics and education. Church financing of learning institutions undoubtedly imposed ideological alignment with the church, but scientific thinking eventually shifted this.…

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