We are looking for PhD and postdoctoral trainees from a range of backgrounds. Feel free to reach out at any time at email@example.com with questions about available positions and funding!
Because our research is interdisciplinary, trainees in the lab come from a diversity of backgrounds – we have had students from anthropology, biology, computer science, mathematics, statistics, and other fields. We also collaborate with other labs at McGill and abroad from these disciplines.
We are located at the McGill University Genome Centre. Colleagues in the centre work on a range of topics from population and statistical genetics to epigenetics, pharmagenomics, single cell genomics, as well as ethics and policy, among others. We have weekly meetings where we share progress on these topics.
The Genome centre is located on the main campus of McGill university, next to the computer science, engineering, and physics buildings. Also dentistry, which led to unexpected collaborations. We often attend talks and events from different departments.
The main campus is located downtown Montréal. It is also near two other universities (UQAM, and Université de Montréal), with excellent and collaborative researchers.
Living in Montreal
Info for graduate students about living in Montreal can be found here.
Graduate degrees and programs
Most students in my lab are part of the Human Genetics department. The MSc and PhD programs are quite flexible, which allows trainees to select the courses they need across any program at McGill or even other universities.
Similarly, I can supervise students via the Epidemiology, Biostatistics, and Occupational health department, usually for students who wish to develop their biostatistics background.
Students with quantiative backgrounds wishing to engage with biology while developing their quantitative skills should also consider the Quantitative Life Science program. The QLS program has a department-wide admissions process, and rotations in the first year when students try different labs.
I do supervise undergraduate internships via either research courses (such as COMP 400) or fellowships (such as MITACS). I have occasionally hired undergraduates for research associate positions. I do not provide unpaid internships outside of research training courses. In most cases, internships focus on either programming or data analysis, but there are other possibilities. Interested students should contact me early at firstname.lastname@example.org.
With the exception of the QLS program, admissions to these programs require you to find a supervisor. Concretely, if you are interested in working in my lab, you should probably reach out before applying (email@example.com). I typically need a cv, transcript, and contact information for two references. A short cover letter (a page or less) is useful – this can be simply the body of the email. If there are suitable opportunities, I will reach out and schedule a short informational meeting, from which we will determine the next steps. These often include a short presentation where you talk about some project you worked on, discussions about a suitable tentative project, and meeting with current trainees. If everything works out, I will then recommend admission to the program you chose.
It can take a few weeks for me to get back to you initially (see EDI statement below). If you have a deadline, let me know at any time. You should also feel free to reach out again if I have not replied after a few weeks.
What is the language of instruction and research?
McGill university is a primarily English-speaking university, meaning that almost all classes are taught in English, and you can expect research to occur in English. Although learning basic French is not required, it can make life outside of McGill easier and more rewarding. McGill offers French classes.
How often will we meet?
We hold weekly lab meeting, and I meet one-on-one with most trainees about once a week for an hour to discuss their research progress and any concerns they may have. We communicate throughout the week via slack.
Will the research position be funded?
All research positions are funded (stipend + tuition). I encourage students to apply for fellowships – this is helpful for your CV, and gives you more freedom to work on the topic of your choice.
How can I prepare a successful application?
I receive hundreds of applications every year, but most are generic applications that are, presumably, being sent to many labs. The easiest way to improve your chances of success is to follow the application guidelines above and be specific about why you are applying to the lab, what you would like to get out of your training, and perhaps which of the training programs and projects you are most interested about (this is not binding, and not all projects are listed on the webpage!).
What I am looking for are students who are motivated by the research we do, will work well with their peers, and have a high aptitude for research. The latter can take many forms and you don’t have to be good at everything! I try to design projects that play to your strengths and help you build the skills you want to learn.
HOw do you handle Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) in recruitment
I try to foster a research environment where all trainees and staff feel supported and empowered, and I do my best to be fair through the recruitment process. One of the things I do is to process applications jointly and systematically, rather that replying on a one-by-one basis. This has shown to reduce implicit biases, but means that there may be a larger delay between receiving your application and giving you an answer.
Genetics research has been used, historically, to justify racist ideologies. It is still being misused by racist groups. Doing genetics research, even in technical or mathematical fields, does require an attention to social and ethical issues. So does working effectively in any diverse team. These topics are likely to come up during the interview process, and I encourage questions about EDI-related issues at any point during the process.