TA Spotlight – Magnus Macaulay

I’m Magnus from Nova Scotia on the East Coast of Canada! I began my studies at Dalhousie University where I did a BTECH in Environmental Landscape Horticulture and upon refining my interest of plants to plant molecular science, I did a BSc in Biology with Honors. Now, I’m in a MSc in Botany here at UBC furthering my interest in both molecular plant science and teaching. In the Wasteneys lab, my research focuses on using genetic engineering techniques to develop fluorescent protein reporters for the study of microtubule-associated proteins in living plant cells.

Being a TA is a part of my stipend as a grad student, but it’s always a huge joy for me to get to work with students in their education journey. I was first a TA at Dalhousie University for a Genetics and Molecular Biology laboratory, where the students used qRT-PCR to study mRNA expression levels in human cell lines. At UBC, I have been a TA for BIOL 112 (Biology of the Cell) where I taught four tutorial groups a week teaching cellular biology concepts to students expanding from the lecture material. Currently, I am the head TA for BIOL 260 (Physiology of Animals and Plants). My duties are to coordinate our six TAs as they assist students and to make other areas of course admin work and grading go smoothly. Each TA experience I’ve had has been so unique and expanded my skillset as a developing teacher.

What do you most enjoy about being a TA?

My greatest joy as a TA is having a space to inspire others to be curious and passionate about science…especially about plant science! I enjoy having a space to get excited about plants and share the knowledge of their wonderful cellular workings. I have also always enjoyed helping people and strongly value continual learning. It’s been a great challenge for me to see where I can be adaptable to develop my skills and better help students year by year.

How has your unique background influenced your TA experience?

I was influenced as a young kid with teaching as both of my parents were teachers in their careers. My father and I would also bond over science experiments with our similar curiosity for the world. I feel this upbringing set the foundation for me to become a teacher in the field of science.

What has been an interesting outcome of your TA experience?

Being the head TA for BIOL 260 has allowed me to strengthen my skillset of organizing tasks and coordinating events for efficiency and maximizing teamwork. Together, these skills, interests, and values combined lead to teaching being the perfect setting for me to thrive.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I enjoy spending my spare time listening to music, playing guitar, gaming with PS4, watching shows, and painting. Whenever I do occasionally get out to nature, I have a blast smelling mosses and identifying species in the wild. I’ve also been part of a Christian club on campus, UCM at UBC, and it’s been by far the most significant support system for me while at grad school. It’s so easy to feel isolated in grad school and attending regular UCM events has kept me connected, supported, and more grounded in my faith! I have met some of the coolest and most loving people ever with this group and I would highly recommend checking out any event as they will be so happy to have you and chat about faith!

What are your plans following graduation?

I greatly enjoy everything I continue to learn with my TA experiences and will use them as building blocks for a career in teaching plant science. It’s been an incredible time living in Vancouver and I plan to stay a while with my adventure buddy of 12 years together, Samuel. I will either aim for teaching full time or part-time teaching with part-time laboratory work!

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Spam prevention powered by Akismet