Video: Graham Walker speaks at Fall Convocation

Friday, October 29, 2010


Written by Gabriella Sundar Singh


Earlier this October, Professor Graham Walker, of the Biology Department, from the Massachusets Institute of Technology, was presented with an honourary degree from the University of Guelph.

Growing up and studying at the University of Ottawa, Professer Walker said he was happy to be back in Canada, and was touched by the honour to present the convocational address. He spoke of his time as a student, giving insight into his journey through education and how he came to teach at MIT. 

While majoring in Chemistry, he became fascinated by DNA, and had dreamt of pursuing a career in which he could work at the interface of the synthesis of DNA and Biochemistry. He had long thought about eventually landing a career in which he could both continue his research as well as teach, a duality which he is enjoying to this day.

As he collaborated with other scientists in his graduate studies, he learned that he would need to verse himself in genetics, if he wanted to do more meaningful biological experiments. Even then, his career goals were taking a more defined shape by his consistent pursuing of his dream career. After going to the University of California, Berkeley, to further his studies, he was drawn into the world of DNA repair, even when others did not share his passion. By following his passion, Professor Walker was able to delve into the world of biological research.

Professor Walker told the graduating class attending this ceremony: “Whenever possible, try to work in something that captures your imagination, and is meaningful to you, whatever that is. Life is so much more fun if your work involves something that you love, and are passionate about. If it seems small, or unfashionble to others, it does not matter; if it excites you, that will do the trick.”

Professor Walker’s ongoing research focuses on two major areas: DNA repair and mutagenesis in bacteria, and the study of symbiosis between nitrogen fixing bacteria and leguminous plants. These fields of research grabbed his attention years ago as an eager student, and he says he feels the same excitement through his work to this day. He hopes that the graduating class of biological science, for this Fall 2010, can keep this same spark alive in themselves, for years to come. 

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