Graduate studies in Science at Mount Allison
7/16/2014 11:20:15 AM

MichelleMount Allison is primarily undergraduate, but the University does have an intimate-scale Master of Science program with an average of 15 graduate students per year. The University offers Master of Science degrees in biology, chemistry, and biochemistry, and specially-approved master’s programs are possible in other disciplines of Science, such as environmental science and physics.

Chemistry and biochemistry professor and chair of the graduate studies committee Dr. Tyson MacCormack has mentored 10 honours students and is currently supervising his first graduate student, Neal Callaghan (BSc ’14), and co-supervising another graduate student with Dr. Suzie Currie in biology. Although some graduate students come to Mount Allison from other undergraduate programs both nationally and internationally, most Mount Allison Master of Science students obtained their undergraduate degree from Mount Allison.

“The graduate studies program at Mount Allison is research based and students frequently play a major role in defining the broader research question and disseminating the results of their work,” MacCormack says. “This really encourages students to develop a sense of ownership over their research and they clearly take pride in producing high quality, high-impact results.”

Michelle McLauchlan, a second year master's in biology student, graduated from Mount Allison in 2013. She chose the University for graduate studies because of her positive undergraduate experience.

“In my undergrad, I was able to complete an honours thesis in biochemistry,” she says. “I really enjoyed the lab work and when the opportunity came to continue the research, I decided to stay.”

MacCormack says that students in the master’s program enjoy all the benefits of Mount Allison’s close-knit community with opportunities to interact and collaborate with other graduate students and labs across campus. Many faculty members also have research collaborations, both nationally and internationally, and graduate students often get the chance to travel to other labs to learn new techniques or to access facilities. Students have travelled to labs in Australia, Japan, Germany, and South America, just to name a few.

MacCormack's master's student Neal Callaghan just returned from a one-month research trip to Portugal. He says the trip helped him gain exposure to new techniques, many of which he will use over the next two year's of his graduate degree, and also experience in planning time- and resource-efficient experiments.

Callaghan’s research is looking at how salmon regulate their metabolism during normal daily temperature changes and the biochemical pathways responsible for this regulation. He explains that although the most direct applications of this research are for aquaculture and conservation, there can also be parallels drawn to the health sector, such as diabetes, cancer, and metabolic syndrome.

“My supervisor, Dr. MacCormack, is big on us choosing our own research goals to suit our interests,” he says. “This gives me a lot of freedom, but also means I have to be organized and plan in advance.”

Callaghan will travel to the Atlantic Regional Comparative Physiology conference in St. Andrews, NB and will also attend the Aquatic Toxicity Workshop in Ottawa, where he will be presenting results from his thesis and another group publication.

To learn more about the Master of Science program at Mount Allison, visit

PHOTO CAPTION: Graduate student Michelle McLauchlan in her biology lab.