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THE CURRENT Issue 2, 16/17

cont en t s Cover image courtesy of: com/

Editor- in- Chief Bethia To Senior Editors Stephanie Philpott Grace To Copy Editors Chris Robertson Akshay Sule Reporters Aileen Liang Nicole Lam Interest Writers Onyedikachi Ojiakor Winnie Ong Jeremy Chan Design Editors Jailyn Yen Samantha Li Photographer Maryam Mohammad Contributor Anthony Vecchiarelli


ITR Information


Wellness Wednesday & Special Permissions


Integrated Science


Alternatives to Medical Sciences


Honours Specialization Modules in the BMSc Program

9 Internships 11

To Thesis or not to Thesis


Lesser Known Programs


The Long Road to Med Sci

15 How to Graduate


Letter from the Editor

hat is ITR? As you hopefully know by now, Western University requires students to “re-apply” every year into their program of choice. This is done in late March through a process called Intent to Register—ITR. Although it may seem like a hassle, it is a great opportunity to evaluate the academic path you are on and whether or not it requires a re-adjustment. This process, however, can be both long and confusing. In this issue, our editorial team hopes to alleviate some of this stress by addressing some key questions that you may have about ITR, no matter what year of study you are in. I urge you to read these articles with an open mind. Our faculty has so many diverse programs that may align with your interests more than the program you are currently enrolled in. You owe it to yourself to look at all the possibilities and make sure you get the most out of your degree.

Bethia To Editor-in-Chief

I also hope this issue reminds you that there’s more than one path to get to where you want to be in the future, so don’t be discouraged! When one door closes, you will always find that another one is open. Finally, as this is my last major publication for The Current as EIC, I want to thank each and every member of the Editorial Board, the Science Students’ Council as well as the science students-at-large for making this issue come to fruition. It could not have been done without you all.

Disclaimer: The sole responsibility for the content of this publication lies with the authors. Its contents do not reflect the opinion of the University Students’


Council of the Univeristy of Western Ontario (“USC”). The USC assumes no responsibility or liability for any error, inaccuracy, or comment contained in this publication or for any use that may be made of such information by the reader.

Help and Where to Find it Jeremy Chan

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s the snow begins to melt and the school year dwindles to its final months, an additional headache is imposed upon Western students. Most Western students know this as the Intent to Register (ITR) application. For students who have met the requirements for their program or module, the ITR application is a relatively stress-free process. It is as simple as filling in a form on student centerto ensure your return to Western University in the following school year. However, the ITR application can be absolute nightmare for certain students. This is especially true for those that are planning to change their projected path (i.e. switch to another program). Those students must take into consideration their completed courses and their marks in

them before using the ITR framework to switch into a different program. This is mainly due to the risk of being denied entry into their first and second choices. ITR can be an extremely overwhelming and stressful time for some students. This is why there is plenty of help and support regarding the application, if you know where to look for it. For students who are completely new to the ITR process, the best resource would be the website for the Office of Registrar. The website provides stepby-step guides on how to complete the ITR application. There are lists of FAQs, videos, and events that are focused on helping students fill out their ITR applications, and how to plan ahead for future years.

Here are some of the events planned for helping Science Students with their ITR applications: Science Students’ Council ITR Information Fair (March 8, 12:30 a.m‒2:30 p.m in PAB) BMSA/BUGS ITR Event (March 16, 6 p.m‒7 p.m in SSC 3022) Besides these events, there is also program counselling, which is provided by the faculty. They provide one-on-one help and will answer any question you may have regarding your application. Overall, the faculty and the university itself provide plenty of resources to ensure you have a smooth transition into the following year. The only thing is that you have to know where to find it.

Mental Health


he journey to one’s first undergraduate degree is undoubtedly a stressful one. Life as a university student can almost seem like a circus act at times. You are expected to attain good grades, be involved on campus, network, and make connections all at the same time as exercising and eating healthy. Juggling all these things at once can leave one feeling stressed, burned-out, and overwhelmed at the end of the day. However, this is something you most definitely do not need to endure alone. The university offers the services of numerous professionals and a plethora of resources to help you or those around you.

When it comes to dealing with mental health and wellbeing, one of the first places you can rely on is the Wellness Education Centre. Located in UCC Room 76, the Wellness Education Centre is a hub for all wellness resources available not only on campus, but also in the London community. The staff there will answer any questions you may have, and direct you to the available resources to help you improve and maintain your mental health and wellbeing. For more pressing matters, there are crisis contacts. Western’s Health and Wellness website provides the contact

information for various services. During regular hours (i.e. Monday‒Friday, daytime), help can be found at the Student Development Centre, Student Health Services, or even the Campus Community Police Service. After hours, services such as the CHMA Crisis Services (519.433.2023) provide 24/7 assistance. The resources mentioned above are only a sliver of what can be found at Western. So, if a situation arises and you need help, don’t hesitate to seek it. Because luckily for us, help is only an arm’s reach away.


Wellness Wednesday Jeremy Chan


hroughout the school year, Western’s Science Students’ Council organizes a number of events for the Faculty of Science, with Wellness Wednesday being one of their premier initiatives. Wellness Wednesday is a year-long campaign dedicated to the mental health and wellbeing of students. As the event name suggests, the SSC brings biweekly events to Western as a means to destress. Here is a summary of some of the events they have had this year: Pumpkin Spice and Everything Nice—a fall-themed event that offered crafts and cider to help students destress during midterm season.

Gingerbread House Making—a classic event that occurs yearly right before the end of the fall term to get students into the holiday mood. Wellness Wednesday’s Nutrition Edition—a new event to teach students how to maintain a healthy lifestyle in university by providing delicious and nutritious recipe ideas. In addition to the events mentioned above, one of the larger events that the Wellness Wednesday committee helps organize is Bell’s Let’s Talk event. In conjunction with USC Charity and SSC Student Support, the committee works to break the stigma behind mental health. This is done by providing a safe and

unique way for the Western community to share stories regarding mental health. Stories from all realms of life are brought to life through spotlight interviews with students and faculty members. The SSC’s dedication and efforts towards student wellbeing are undeniable. Through the Wellness Wednesday campaigns, students are given a brief escape from the stress and worries of university life, allowing them to rest, recharge, and refocus on whatever things lie ahead.

Special Permissions Stephanie Philpott

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Registering for courses brings a yearly struggle for university students across the globe, in which prerequisites, fully enrolled classes, timetable conflicts, course loads, and UWO courses at affiliated University colleges (Brescia, Huron, King’s) all create problems that can deter students from taking the courses they are passionate about. Luckily for Western students, there are two words that may solve all of your problems: Special Permissions. Few Western students realize that they can ask to be accepted into an already-full course, take a class at a different campus, take two courses with a timetable conflict, avoid having to take


prerequisites, and even substitute courses in their module with other courses they have already taken using the Special Permissions process at Western. To attain a Special Permission, students simply have to follow the instructions provided for each potential situation on the Academic Counselling website for your program. All situations require you to contact either the department(s) that the course the conflict(s) stem from, or the counselling office. From there, you may or may not receive your Special Permission, and can continue to plan your perfect schedule.


By: Nicole Lam

Making science relevant, one course at a time

The applicability of science is easy to question during our undergraduate years. After countless late nights of memorizing the structures of 20 amino acids or how to derive one physics formula from another, it can be difficult to see how our curriculum in the Faculty of Science is relevant to the real world. This a problem that the newlyinducted Integrated Science program at Western is intended to solve. Currently in its first year since its introduction in 2016, Western’s Integrated Science (WISc) program aims to incorporate various aspects of science that are not usually considered in the average science program. First year WISc courses, such as INTEGSCI 1000Z: Evolution of the Scientific Process, and 1001X: Exploring the Landscape of Science, offer a broader view and ask students to think critically and meaningfully about the purpose of science. As WISc students move into second year, they will be introduced to INTEGSCI 2001F: Sustainability and the Environment, and 2002B: Big Data and Mathematical Modelling. These courses offer incredibly relevant curriculum on topics that can be applied to pressing issues today. The third and fourth years of the WISc program are when community and volunteering initiatives are introduced. INTEGSCI 3002A/B will involve working on a project with a local organization or company, while INTEGSCI 4001A/B will involve mentoring future first- and second-year WISc students.

The WISc program ends with INTEGSCI 4999E, the Integrated Science research project (similar to the fourth year research projects in other honors specialization modules).

“think critically and meaningfully about the purpose of science.”

There are several different possible fouryear honors specialization modules within the Integrated Science program: Honors Specialization in Integrated Science with Biology, with Chemistry, with Computer Science, with Earth Sciences, with Environmental Science, with Genetics, with Mathematics, or with Physics. It’s a small program, with only 60 seats available to incoming first-years. On top of an OUAC application, graduating highschool students are required to submit a challenging supplementary application, with questions such as “What really excites you about science?” and “Why do you think a team-based approach to science is important today?” Currently, there does not seem to be an option for students to transfer into the WISc program from another degree, however, this may become an reality as the program continues to grow. For now, WISc remains an exciting and unique opportunity for grade 12 students applying to the program in the years to come, and for the 60 lucky undergraduates exploring this uncharted territory this year.



Medical Sciences << >> To

a degree in the

Dika Ojiakor

Forget, for a second, the hype around Med Sci.


hoosing a program in the sciences can be daunting for anyone. Here at Western, the long list of modules offered to third-year BMSc students often makes this decision even tougher. Students hoping to get into competitive modules frequently have to settle for their second choices due to the limited number of spots available. As a result, it’s not uncommon to feel stuck from fear, or complete uncertainty of your choice of program. Fortunately, however, there are several programs outside of the Medical Sciences that students may feel more secure in pursuing. Although Western enrols more firstyear students in its Medical Sciences


program (BMSc) than in the Science and Biological Sciences programs (BSc) combined, more modules are available to students in the latter group. This means that switching to the BSc program presents you with a wider variety of modules to specialize in than staying in the Medical Sciences. Thus, while some BMSc modules still bear the burden of large class sizes (e.g. the IMS module), many students in BSc programs view large classes as a thing of the past. So, if you’re looking for a closer relationship with professors, or are just in need of options other than those offered in the BMSc program, a more thorough look at some of the other modules in the Faculty of

Science may be just what you need to find the ideal program for you! Before going any further, it is important to emphasize that your choice of module or program should depend on you and you alone. If there’s something out there that you’re passionate about, be it in the sciences or not, you’ll likely be better off enrolling in a program that aligns best with that passion. However, if you, like many students, are at a crossroads between staying in Medical Sciences and taking alternative routes to earning your science degree, below are four interesting modules offered by the Faculty of Science that you should definitely consider:

1. Genetics Genetics is arguably the most promising field in science today. The ability to make changes to DNA may hold potential for bold advances in important fields like medicine and agriculture. Ambitious new tools in gene editing like CRISPR-Cas9 serve as proof that genetics may be the next big thing. In fact, Elon Musk says he would consider a career in genetics today if he were still 22 years old! So if you don’t mind the letters A, T, C and G, and are keen on working on the cusp of scientific innovation, pursuing a degree in genetics may be the right fit for you.

3. Biodiversity and Conservation Up to two hundred species of plants and animals go extinct every day, and many of these are due to human activity. This alarming statistic has given rise to the field of Biodiversity and Conservation, the newest module offered by the Faculty of Science at Western. Experts in this field are tasked with studying the biology of endangered plants and animals, the ecology of the habitats they occupy, and the public policies that are pertinent to the conservation of biodiversity. So if you find all this appealing, and don’t mind taking a lot of biology courses, you may find pursuing a degree in Biodiversity and Conservation worthwhile.

2. Environmental Science It’s hard to overemphasize the importance of the environment. Everything that supports the survival of our species and our planet depends on it. Sadly, however, there has never been as great a threat to the environment in the history of the world than there is today, and experts in environmental science are needed now more than ever. Studying environmental science can also be exceptionally interesting: small class sizes, field trips, and enthusiastic professors are a combination that most students probably wouldn’t mind. Students specializing in this program also get to do a research project in their fourth year under the supervision of a faculty member in the Center for Environment and Sustainability here at Western. So if all this sounds like fun, fun, fun, becoming an environmental scientist might very well be the right path for you.

4. Computer Science An Android phone today is cheaper, more powerful, and a whole lot smaller than the million-dollar computers used in the two World Wars of the twentieth century. Credit for tremendous developments in technology such as this are often given to engineers, wealthy business magnates, and people of a wide variety of professions. However, many would agree that much of this credit really belongs to computer scientists. For students in Medical Sciences, switching to a program like Computer Science can seem like a very scary prospect. “It took a lot of courage [for me] to make the switch from Med Sci,”remarks Ore Obiyomi, a fourth-year Computer Science student at Western. “I didn’t like math so much, and from the outside looking in, it seemed Computer Science was going to be all math. But I’m glad I made the switch because my grades have gone up and I can finally say that I’m studying what I enjoy.” Courses in the Computer Science program offered at Western are also considerably different from those in Medical Sciences, and students considering making a switch should be aware of what to expect before doing so. Ore advises that students take a course in coding before switching programs. However, if you think this program is right for you, it may well be worth pursuing, as a degree in Computer Science can be very rewarding.




photo credits: Maryam Mohammad The world of science is broad and full of options. Like a window through which we can see further, it constantly surprises us. Plato likened it to a man who finally sees the wider world in all its beauty after having lived his entire life chained at the bottom of a dark cave. However, the wider world sometimes holds far too many mysteries, forcing us to pick only a few things to study and understand. This is why today in the sciences we have physicists, chemists, ecologists, biologists etc. who devote their entire careers to discovering and understanding small parts of Platoâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s new world. Here at Western, students are no exception to this burden of choice. The unique structure of the Medical Sciences program requires that in their third year, BMSc students have to choose a single program that resonates with them from an enormous range consisting of 20 specialization modules, and 9 Double Major modules. Since it is ITR season, and many are still in doubt as to what to pursue, here is a list of some available modules for those who intend to complete an Honors Specialization in the BMSc program.

Floor plan of MSB retreived from:


Biochemistry Including: Biochemistry and Cell Biology, Biochemistry of Infection and Immunity, Computational Biochemistry, Chemical Biology This group of modules is fairly competitive to enter. With a combined maximum capacity of 50 students, and a required minimum average of 75% from the 2016/2017 entering class, thesemodules target students passionate about biochemistry.

Medical Biophysics Biochemistry & Pathology of Human Disease. This unique module, which merges biochemistry and pathology, has a maximum capacity of 8 students, and a 2016/2017 minimum average requirement of 82.50%.

Epidemiology & Biostatistics This module is geared towards students interested in epidemiology and biostatistics, both cornerstones of public health, who want to include applied human health research-intensive preparation in their undergraduate program. Its maximum capacity is 12 students, and the minimum average requirement for the 2016/2017 Year 3 class was 75%.

Interdisciplinary Medical Sciences This module targets students who wish to take courses from two or more medical science disciplines. It offers greater flexibility in course selection than all other specialization modules and is one of two modules that can be combined with the HBA joint program offered by Ivey and Schulich. The 2016/2017 Year 3 minimum average requirement for this module was 75%, and itcan admit up to 200 students.

Pharmacology, Physiology, Physiology & Pharmacology This group of modules targets students interested in the study of normal function in living systems, the study of the effect of drugs, or both. Again, on the more competitive end of things, the 2016/2017 minimum average requirement for students in this module was 83.50%, with the modules admitting a combined maximum of 80 students. A research project must be completed to graduate from this Honors Specialization module.

Including:Clinical Physics concentration, Medical Science concentration, and Medical Biophysics and Biochemistry. These modules combine basic medical science disciplines with the study of physics. Students in any of these three modules are required to complete a thesis project in their final year of the BMSc program. The maximum number of students that can be admitted to this group of modules is 40, and the minimum average requirement for 2016/2017 Year 3 entering class was 75%.

Medical Healthi Informatics

This module has a maximum capacity of 8 students, and a 2016/2017 minimum average requirement of 75%. It is geared toward students who wish to learn about ways to improve health care, and it requires the completion of a research project in the last year of studies.

Pathology This module targets students interested in the study of diseases and novel ways of diagnosing, palliating, and treating them. As the most competitive module in the BMSc program, the Honors Specialization in Pathology program admits a maximum of 20 students, and had a 2016/2017 Year 3 minimum average requirement of 88.60%.

Microbiology & Immunology

The study of microscopic organisms and the immune system is tremendously important in understanding diseases and creating drugs. It is also the major focus of the Microbiology and Immunology module offered by the BMSc program here at Western. With a maximum capacity of 30 students, a 2016/2017 Year 3 minimum average requirement of 83%, and a research thesis project requirement for graduation, this is one of the more competitive modules to enter in the Medical Sciences program.

Microbiology & Immunology with Pathology This small module with a maximum capacity of 6 students combines the disciplines of Pathology, Microbiology and Immunology. It is also one of the more competitive modules in the BMSc program, with a 2016/2017 Year 3 entrance average of 88.17%.

Medical Cell Biology As a small module with a maximum capacity of 10 students, Medical Cell Biology is a bit on the competitive side with a 2016/2017 Year 3 minimum average requirement of 83.50%. The module also requires the completion of a fourth-year research project.


The Science Internship Program is an 8–16-month period between a student’s third and fourth years of study where students have the opportunity to gain work full-time. It’s not your traditional co-op, where students study for two semesters then work for one semester—here, students are paid for full-time work for an employer in the private, public, or not-for-profit sectors while taking a full year off before their final year of study. Salaries can range from as $25,000 for to $54,000 depending on the job. The benefits of the Science Internship are tremendous and many students who have completed the program highly recommend it. Jenny Phan, a fourth-year biology student who completed her 12-month internship as a Quality Operations Planning Intern at Sanofi Pasteur, highly recommends the Science Internship, “Honestly, the Science Internship Program was the best decision I’ve made in undergrad.” When asked about what she learned from completing a science internship, Jenny responded, “I learned so much! I learned how to take a huge array of data and find the story it’s trying to tell me. I learned how to project future labour demands and problem solve to determine the most efficient solution. Most importantly, I learned how to be a professional (and reliable) adult!” The Science Internship is an excellent opportunity to gets hands-on experience in a workplace setting, to be mentored by a professional, and to experience life outside of a lecture hall and academic labs. “Even if you’re not totally sure if you want to work or do grad school or professional school after graduation, just apply to be a part of the Science Internship




“On every level of the spectrum, the internship program is so rewarding and so worth it.”

Program and go with the flow and see where it takes you. There’s really nothing to lose. At the very least you get to take part in a variety of professional workshops that are useful in whatever path you choose in the future,” Jenny says.

Part of the Science Internship Program entails completing the Science 3391 (Internship: Planning, Practicum and Prospects) course. This is not a traditional course, but rather a series of workshops aimed at preparing students for applying to these jobs. The course includes seminars on writing cover letters/resumes, improving interview skills, and developing business etiquette. This course is completed in a student’s third year and is often taken on top of a student’s course load; however, it does not count as overloading. Science 3391 is not a regular course that you can sign up for; instead, students must be accepted into the Science Internship Program (which starts in September), after which the course will be added to their course load. Students interested in completing an internship should apply in the fall of their third year.

By: Winnie Ong

For students who are currently in the process of applying or who are thinking of applying for an internship, Jenny has one piece of advice: “Be patient.” The hiring process has two rounds and some jobs may not become available until later in the year. Additionally, it may take time for companies to get back to students with job offers. With many job opportunities available from different sectors, it can become overwhelming to try and pick. Jenny recommends to “only apply to jobs you can really imagine yourself in.” One concern many students have regarding the Science Internship is the prospect of graduating a year behind their classmates. It can be difficult to extract oneself

A Checklist for Applying Application process obtained from: http://www.uwo. ca/sci/undergraduate/career_services/science_internship_program/internship_course_3391.html Attend an information session about the Science Internship Program in September of your third year Apply and obtain approval to participate in the Internship Program Attend the first class of Science 3391

My year at work helped me grow so much as a person.

Actively participate in Science 3391 throughout the academic year

from Western after spending three years getting to know one’s surroundings and making meaningful connections.

Apply for jobs (keeping in mind deadlines and application requirements)

With regards to this trepidation, Jenny says: “[T]rust me, you are not missing that much on your year off from school. My year at work helped me grow so much as a person. On every level of the spectrum, the Internship Program is so rewarding and so worth it.”

Check for job postings on Career Central

The Student Success Centre will notify you if you have been selected for an internship Have more questions? internship_program/index.html




What is a thesis project? A research thesis project is an individual research project conducted by students in their fourth year of study. This is an opportunity that allows students to work with a faculty member to learn, gain experience, and conduct research in their field of study. The goal of the project is to provide students with a first-hand experience in the world of scientific academia.

What are some benefits of completing a thesis? A thesis project is an opportunity for students to implement the knowledge and critical thinking skills they have acquired through traditional courses. “Designing and carrying out experiments, troubleshooting and refining methodology, interpreting the results, and deciding on what to do next develops a person’s ability to think critically and creatively,” says Dr. Derek McLachlin, an Assistant Professor in the Department of Biochemistry. “Through this process students not only get a deeper appreciation for and understanding of their field of study, but they also gain in self-reliance and self-confidence.” Students will be able to apply the character-related and discipline-related skills and experience they develop during the thesis project


to whatever career-related opportunities should follow after their undergraduate degree. These skills and experiences can be useful assets during interviews for graduate studies, professional schools, or for career prospects. Dr. Derek McLachlin comments “During an interview it is far more interesting to speak about a research project for which one has had primary responsibility than to explain how one followed the same steps in a lab manual as dozens of classmates.” By working in a research lab, the student is forming a foundation for their future career. During a thesis project, the student͛s supervisor has an excellent opportunity to interact with the student in an individual setting. This can allow the supervisor to provide a more detailed and

personalized reference letter regarding the personality, character, and academic abilities of the student compared to instructors in other courses. Furthermore, students will work with other graduate students, post-doctoral fellows, and other researchers in the lab. While these relationships are themselves valuable, they are also a form of professional networking. In order to get the most out of a fourthyear thesis project, students should “apply themselves fully to the work and become engaged in and committed to the research.” Dr. McLaughlin also states that, “Like most things in life, a half-hearted effort will produce mixed results. When you take responsibility for what you’re doing, you earn the respect of others and can gain more satisfaction when you have a success or achieve something.”

I am in first or second year and completing my ITR. Why should I be thinking about a fourth-year thesis project? 1. You have an interest in a career in research and would like the opportunity to explore this avenue first hand. Perhaps it was an introductory course you took that piqued your interest, or you͛ve spoken to a professor in a particular field of research, or had an upper-year tell you about their outstanding research experience. Regardless of the reasons you might be interested, the fourth-year thesis project is an invaluable opportunity to apply your knowledge from previous years as well as ask and answer questions as a budding researcher. Identifying which fields of study interest you is the first step to deciding whether you want to learn more about that field.

2. It may be a requirement for your intended module. Image courtesy of:

How would I benefit from completing a double major as opposed to an Honors Specialization (HSP) module? Another alternative to the thesis project (as required for certain HSP modules) would be to complete a double major degree. A double major allows for flexibility between different departments, and even between different faculties. Due to the nature of taking courses from two different disciplines, students are exposed to a broader range of information than they may receive in a typical Honors Specialization program. Additionally, students may find the thesis project to be a demanding course, which requires a lot of time and attention. This in turn may take away from other courses and activities. Completing a double major may be easier in this sense, although this can vary from student to student.

How is the Honors Specialization in Interdisciplinary Medical Sciences (IMS) module different from a Double Major or other Honors Specialization modules? For those wishing to complete a Bachelor Medical Sciences (BMSc) degree with an Honors Specialization (HSP) in IMS, there is no thesis project. The capstone courses in fourth year are a lecture course and a lab course (Medical Sciences 4930 F/G and 4900F/G, respectively). These courses allow students to graduate with an HSP in a BMSc degree without having to complete a full-year, discipline-specific thesis project. The IMS modules allow for greater flexibility in course selection and for taking courses from at least two different disciplines at a fourthyear level.

Many honors specialization (HSP) modules list a fourth-year thesis project as a requirement for graduation (e.g. HSP chemistry, HSP biochemistry). However, others (e.g. HSP genetics) do not require a thesis project in order to graduate with an Honors degree. Deciding what degree you wish to work towards can be a deciding factor for if you want to complete a thesis project or not.

3. You may need to look for a supervisor For some modules, acceptance into the module guarantees you a spot for a thesis project and with a supervisor for the upcoming year. However, one still needs to match with a supervisor prior to the start of their thesis project. For other modules, acceptance into the thesis program may be dependent on the student͛s ability to secure a supervisor prior to the start of the thesis project. Now, don͛t fret; there is often a list of potential topics and supervisors posted on the department website or given to students prior to the start of the next school year. This process will involve doing homework as to finding out which supervisors͛ research you are interested in, and meeting with potential supervisors in the months leading up to your fourth year. Additionally, while you will learn many of the required skills during the completion of a thesis project, it may be helpful to work in a potential supervisor͛s lab prior to this to learn basic lab skills.

4. You will need to plan your courses accordingly The fourth year thesis project is seen as a “capstone” of your multiple years of undergraduate studies. There may be certain pre-requisite courses you need to take in order to qualify for the thesis project. Additionally, the thesis project requires the culmination of information from many different courses. If you are thinking of completing a thesis in your fourth year, it would be advisable to plan ahead and see which courses you should take in the upcoming years.

5. There may be a limited number of spots available. Like many of the above considerations, the number of spots available for a thesis project may or may not have a limit; it depends on the module. This limit is usually attributed to a finite number of potential supervisors in the department. In order to ensure that all students are able to find a supervisor, certain modules may have a limited number of students that can be accepted. The admission process is done on a basis of grades, which is another factor you may wish to take into consideration.


Lesser Known


Not sure which path you want to take? Like your school but not your program? Here are a few lesser-known programs you might not have considered!

Chris Robertson Animal Behaviour

Department: Biology Program Options: Honors Specialization

If you found Psych 1000 interesting, or if you’re struggling to choose between the social sciences and biology, then Animal Behaviour might be the program for you. Animal Behaviour isn’t just another ecology degree with a focus on animals—it’s actually a complete marriage of biology and psychology, and unlike any other program offered by Western. With course options like Neuroscience of Motivation and Emotion, Sensation and Perception Psychology, and Patterns in the Diversity of Life, you’ll graduate with an intimate knowledge of both human psychology and animal ecology, and you’ll be well-equipped to take on a career in either of those fields.


Department: Computer Science Program Options: Honors Specialization If you’re interested in both computer science and biology, then you should consider enrolling in the Western Bioinformatics Program. The program is based in the Computer Science department, and as such, that is its main focus. However, it also gives a thorough overview of the basics of several biological disciplines, tailored specifically to computer science students. The biological component is weighted heavily towards biochemistry and genetics, as they are the most easily-integrated with computer science. courtesy of

Mathematics in Society

Department: Mathematics Program Options: Honors Specialization, Specialization   This program is designed to give mathematically-inclined students as broad a range of knowledge as possible. A primarily theory-based program, Mathematics in Society touches on all the major fields of mathematics, including multivariable calculus, abstract algebra, and number theory. Although it is tailored for students who plan to pursue further education (this means you, Math Teacher hopefuls!), it is also suitable for those planning to begin their career immediately following graduation.

courtesy of

Medical Physics


Department: Physics and Astronomy Program Options: Honors Specialization, Major, Specialization Medical Physics is based in the department of Physics and Astronomy, and the program structure reflects that. As a Medical Physics student, your studies will be almost entirely physics-based until your third year, at which point your courses begin to focus on the application of your physics knowledge to a biological context. The most common uses of physics in medicine are in imaging techniques and technologies, such as MRIs, CAT-scans, and microscopy, and these are the primary focus of the upper-year Medical Physics courses. Imaging technicians are often the ones who make preliminary diagnoses based on their findings, so if you want to make a tangible, visible impact on people’s lives, this might be the program for you!

courtesy of


The Anthony Vecchiarelli


ost schools have one natural sciences degree that a student can choose to apply for; however, for Western students the situation is slightly more nuanced than that. Western provides two options: a Biology degree and a Medical Sciences degree. The Medical Sciences degree has quickly gained a reputation as the #1 destination for pre-med students applying to Western. Graduating from the Medical Sciences program awards the graduate with a different set of post-nominal letters, allowing you to graduate with a BMSc (Bachelor of Medical Sciences) rather than the more common BSc (Bachelor of Science). While this is likely something that only another Western student or faculty member may understand, the Medical Sciences program remains a competitive and rewarding experience. While the majority of students in the Medical Sciences program are accepted out of high school, there are a few students who simply do not make the cut and are instead offered admission into the biology program. I am one of these students. Graduating with lackluster marks after a serious case of senioritis, my 80s were not enough to open the doors to Medical Sciences, the program I desperately wanted. This required I find my work ethic, and try to move from bio-sci to med-sci. The BMSc program has strict requirements for students applying to

Med-Sci the program. After their second year, a student must have maintained a full course load, received no final grades below a 60%, and have, at lowest, a 75% average in 3.0 of their 2000-level modular courses. Thus, the more notorious second year courses such as Organic Chemistry, Biostatistics,

and Genetics trim the program and send many students in different directions. During the first two years of undergrad, the courses taken for the Medical Sciences and Biological Sciences programs are nearly identical, making it easy to fulfill all requirements to switch programs. The more challenging aspect of switching into the BMSc program for third year is that certain modules have few spots available for entry at that time, which


lead to very high averages required to enter. Most notably, if you wish to enter the Pathology module in the Medical Sciences program, you will need to have an average upwards of 88.6%, a feat not to be scoffed at. However, not all modules in the Medical Sciences program require these seemingly unattainable averagesâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;most notably, Interdisciplinary Medical Science (IMS) requires a relatively modest 75% average to be accepted. The road to Medical Sciences is a long and arduous one that may never be fruitful, as regardless of your average, admittance is dependent on the number of students in the program that decide to leave. If you are a Biological Science student considering the switch, you may wonder what the benefit even is, or if it is suited for you. Medical and Biological Sciences begin to diverge into different courses at the start of third year, and both paths give students the opportunity to enroll in module-specific courses. This means that Medical Sciences is truly only an advantage if you have an interest in the courses being offered by that department. Ultimately, you can achieve your goals regardless of which program you enter or end up in, it just may mean you take a different selection of courses on your road to success.



All images courtesy of: (@ Comms Staff)

If you’re reading this, chances are you’re nearing the end of your university career and excited to get on with your life! But before you start exploring new horizons, there’s just one thing left for you to do before you can hold that shiny, hard-earned diploma: graduate. As it turns out, quite a few people find themselves unable to get their official degree when they expected—not because they haven’t taken all of their necessary courses, but because they just forgot to apply for graduation. Fortunately, there is a super simple process to apply for graduation that only takes a few minutes.

1.Log into Student Center 2.Under “My Academics” click the “Apply for Graduation Button” 3.Select your degree and expected convocation ceremony

In Absentia

Spring/June Convocation

Autumn/October Convocation

February Convocation

Applications accepted from February ‒ April 30th

Applications accepted from July‒ September 8th

Applications accepted from November‒January 22nd

For students who will have completed all the requirements for their degree by the end of April.

For students who will have completed all the requirements for their degree by the end of August.

For students who will have completed all the requirements for their degree by the end of December.

Before you apply for graduation, however, you might want to also make sure that you have completed all of your program requirements and are eligible for convocation. The Western University website has an excellent checklist for general requirements, but if you’re still curious you can look up your program under the academic calendar or talk to an academic counsellor. After applying for graduation with all of your degree requirements verified, there’s not much else to do but kick back and relax while you enjoy the prospect of your post-university life! 15

Intent to Register - ITR  
Intent to Register - ITR