The Department of Biochemistry was established in 1967 by Dr. L.A.W. Feltham who served as Head until 1973. In his memory, the department conference and social room is named for him as is one of our undergraduate scholarships. Our current Head is Dr. Phil Davis.
As a department, our space used is rather spread out. Our home base is the fourth floor of the Science Building A-wing, which is where you can find the department office as well as the department’s undergraduate advising office and one of our two teaching labs. We also have space on the first floor – that’s where our other teaching lab is located – on the third floor, and in the Biotechnology building. We have one faculty member’s office in the Earth Sciences building, too.
We currently have 19 faculty members, a number that’s been fairly constant for the past ten years. One of our faculty members holds a prestigious Canada Research Chair; Dr. Valerie Booth holds that title in the area of Membrane Proteins. Our other faculty carry out research that covers areas of molecular biology, development and differentiation, human nutrition and metabolism, biophysical and structural biochemistry, and food science.
The department attracts a high number of majors to its two principal undergraduate programs – Biochemistry, and Biochemistry(Nutrition). For Winter 2014 there are about 250 registered majors. We have an advising office where a staff member is able to help students plan their programs and assist them when academic difficulties arise. We have a number of scholarships and bursaries that have been established specifically for our students. And, at the end of each academic year, we hold a luncheon for family and friends of that year’s graduating class. Our undergraduates have a very successful Biochemistry Society with its own space in the department. They organize mixers several times a year as well as an end-of-year semi-formal dinner and dance.
We graduated our first MSc in biochemistry student in 1970. Since then, we have added a PhD in biochemistry, as well as M.Sc. and PhD programs in food science to our graduate offerings. Our programs and our faculty research have attracted graduate students not just from Newfoundland and Canada but all over the world. Our graduate students have organized their own Society and inaugurated a very successful summer research symposium, 2013 being its third year. For Winter 2014 there are about 30 students in our graduate programs.
Lastly, successful research and teaching in any department depends on its staff. We are blessed in that regard with a small but highly dedicated cadre of staff who keep the wheels turning daily for faculty and students. Typically there are about a dozen employees engaged in support of administrative, teaching and research activities.