Alice DesRoches, 2021 Nyman Scholar sits in a stone courtyard with trees and flowers around her

Alice DesRoches has earned the 2021 Dr Leslie Paul Nyman Scholarship by demonstrating exceptional leadership skills in the community and a strong commitment to plant biology. DesRoches was an active peer member of her First and Second-Year Learning Communities (F/SLC) and is incoming Executive Director of the Sexual Education Centre (SEC). She excelled in plant biology courses BIO220 and CSB350 and is conducting research in Prof Art Weis’ laboratory.

DesRoches values the opportunities provided by the F/SLC program, where student peers build effective academic habits. “I came to UofT from the US with virtually no connections here, so I appreciated the support, the introduction to research experiences as well as the consideration for prioritizing one’s mental health.

As a Volunteer Coordinator and incoming Executive Director of the SEC, DesRoches has made community service a priority during her undergraduate studies and has stood out for her natural ability to lead, mentor, and support others. She feels that “Peer support isn’t about knowing everything but about giving the best advice you can. You need to be compassionate about the situation others may find themselves in but be able to step back and refer them to other services if necessary.”

An early interest in paleontology led to a fascination with biology. In high school, DesRoches was further inspired to study the subject by her AP Biology teacher Mr. Boylan, who instilled a sense of wonderment at intricacy of molecular biology.

The second year BIO220 lab course as well as CSB353 encouraged DesRoches’ interest in plant biology and she joined the Weis lab as an ROP project student, assisting with evolutionary biology-related projects. Her work included caring for Brassica rapa plants in the Earth Sciences greenhouses and collecting data in ongoing seed aging experiments. DesRoches plans continue her research in the Weis Lab in her final year, focusing on genetic dominance in flowering time.

For other students interested in plant biology, DesRoches advises that “CSB350 is a really great, hands-on course. The course material draws directly from molecular plant biology research by Prof Christendat and Prof Nambara, so it’s a really valuable experience.”

Congratulations Alice DesRoches!