Graduate Student in Biology/Biochemistry
University of Toronto

bradley laflamme

This may seem surprising, but I was not interested in the liberal arts coming out of high school. My interest in medicine made me think that I would follow some friends into programs geared towards medicine at the University of Ottawa. For whatever reason (probably more dumb luck than anything else), I instead chose to follow another friend into the Humanities and Biology program at Carleton, and it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

From the very first week, the Humanities professors establish a dialogue between the students and their own intellectual pursuits that remains active throughout the four years of the program, even as they explore topics ranging from Abrahamic and Eastern religions to modern political theory. Looking back on my time in the college, I realize just how unaware I had been of so many amazing human accomplishments and ideas.

A pure science degree will be filled primarily with courses to teach you objective facts, and those facts provide the important foundation for future research and application—that is undeniable. But when science courses are combined with Humanities courses that ask students to engage with ideas, rather than to categorize them as fact or fiction, there is a perfect balance. You get the necessary objective information while simultaneously being humbled before the sheer variety of ways in which human beings experience the world.

Quite honestly, in a world where scientific snobbery is at its heights, this humble disposition strikes me as an invaluable character trait, one which will help bridge a future generation of scientists with the general public. Taking this into account, I can’t recommend this program enough to prospective students interested in the biological sciences.

Bradley Laflamme (HUMS-BIO) is currently in the 5th year of his PhD program in the labs of Darrell Desveaux and David Guttman at the University of Toronto. His work thus far (published in Science) has delivered several new insights into a major facet of plant immunity.

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