Congratulations to Dr. James Bedard, UFV Research Excellence Award Winner!

Research Excellence 2022: UFV the perfect fit for professor seeking balance between teaching and research

by Anne Russell, UFV Today – May 15, 2022

For Dr. James Bedard, the 2022 winner of the Research Excellence award at UFV, a faculty posting in the biology department turned out to be the perfect fit.

His mentor during his undergraduate and graduate years studying microbiology in Manitoba had told him that he’d make a good teaching-focused professor with a minor focus on research.

But he went the big research route first, doing post-doc fellowships at the Genome Research Institute in Ohio and Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, focusing on molecular genetics.

Bedard got tired of focusing only on research. He wanted to teach as well. Teaching one course part-time confirmed this. Then he took a job at a teaching-focused university in Colorado. Eventually, he felt the pull to return to his home country of Canada and went looking for an academic institution with a mix of teaching and research, and with mountains and wilderness opportunities nearby. UFV fit the bill!

And now 10 years since joining UFV, he’s well established as a researcher who also teaches and mentors student researchers.

He brought his interest in genomics with him, along with his connection to the Genomics Education Partnership, which provides him with resources to train students in research on model organism genomes such as the fruit-fly (Drosophila).

“We work with fruit flies. We basically extract all the DNA from the flies and examine the sequences of that DNA. So we look at genes, which make proteins. We look at and compare species and look how these genomes have evolved. Once my students have learned how to do genome annotation, you can apply to any organism with the tools they’ve learned. You don’t have to be excited about fruit flies. You just have to be interested in working with DNA.

“Our students are the researchers, and we send the data back to the Genome Education Partnership and it is original research. What they’re doing is novel. No one else has done it before. The students are the key scientists in this work, contributing to the body of science knowledge that this GEP project worldwide is doing.”

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