Global Site Navigation (use tab and down arrow)

Faculty of Science
UNB Fredericton

Back to Faculty of Science

Dean's message

Pjila’si – Welcome; teluisi (my name is) Gary Saunders, a proud member of the Benoit First Nation in Ktaqmkuk, as well as a marine biologist and the Dean of Science at UNB Fredericton.

It is a pleasure to reach out to you, our past, present and future students, staff and faculty (Thoughts for incoming students). We have been through a few challenging years that impacted our lives in many ways. Some of you are attending your first in-person classes in years, while others graduated under conditions that precluded a much-deserved ceremony. Through it all, the resilience and determination to push forward regardless of the obstacles has been a source of inspiration. We have weathered those challenges and are now focused on our future.

Science continues to attract talented young faculty, reflecting our commitment to meet the aspirations and needs of our students and society in general. We are growing our research strengths in a wide variety of disciplines and have an ever-increasing presence on the world stage. I encourage you to visit our Recent News site for ongoing updates on the accomplishments of our faculty, staff and students, past and present.

We have exciting new programs in Environmental Science – with six streams to suit the diversity of learners and meet the needs of the global community on our changing planet. We are also launching a joint program in Biology/Psychology with the Faculty of Arts to meet growing demand in this discipline. As we continue to anticipate the aspirations of future learners, we are developing novel programs in Data Science and Engineering Physics that will soon be available to our students.

Owing to generous contributions from our extended family, we have established research initiatives to support faculty and students. The John Tidswell Summer Internship and Indigenous Student Summer Internship provide experiential learning opportunities and help to ease the transition from high school to university. The Science Undergraduate Research Experience Award (SURE) is co-presented to a student and their supervisor to support a promising undergraduate student during the semester prior to their final year research project. The Fritz Grein Science Research Award supports a junior faculty member, thus accelerating the trajectory of their research program. The inaugural recipient was Dr. Ed Wilson-Ewing and you can read about his exciting research here.

World-class research requires world-class infrastructure. Science depends on state-of-the-art equipment and we have been fortunate to receive support from numerous donors to upgrade equipment and improve our research capacity. We have initiated a plan to develop innovative research and teaching spaces for our Departments of Biology and Chemistry. While it will take years to realize this dream, the initial plan to provide one space dedicated to research and another a high-tech teaching facility has allowed us to look to the future with renewed optimism.

Diversity is critical to research and innovation. We have established an Equity, Diversity and Inclusion committee tasked with developing recommendations to realise a cultural shift in our faculty, ensuring better representation of marginalized groups and a better working and learning environment for all of our stakeholders. Many changes will be implemented as we move to the future. For example, as part of our commitment to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s recommendations, we have named Dr. Charles Sacobie as our first Indigenous Science Scholar. In addition to delivering the course Indigenous Science: knowledge, ways of knowing and methodology, Dr. Sacobie will develop a series of workshops for STEM faculty and graduate students to explore/understand Indigenous issues as they pertain to the sciences, as well as serve as the liaison between local Indigenous communities and the Faculty of Science. Critically, Dr. Sacobie will assist Indigenous students in obtaining experiential learning opportunities and develop a research program focused on the research priorities of Indigenous communities.

I encourage you to visit the webpages of our faculty to read about the exciting teaching and research taking place in Science. The opportunities extend from the depths of the oceans to outer space, and from climate change to pandemic modeling. There is something for everyone.

Thoughts for incoming students

Science is such a vast and expanding field that it can at times defy definition. We will work with you to guide you through your formative years as a young scientist to prepare you to succeed in a wide variety of professions and careers, to excite your interest in the broader scientific issues of today and tomorrow, and expand your understanding of our universe at all levels. We can accomplish all of this because we in Science at UNB bring a unique combination of strengths together to enhance your educational experience at both the undergraduate and graduate student levels.

When you join us, you will benefit from everything that a comprehensive university has to offer. Among comprehensive universities UNB offers some of the smallest class sizes, providing better student to faculty ratios, which will enhance your learning experience. In Science at UNB our undergraduate laboratory offerings remain real rather than virtual providing you with first-hand experiential learning, which will further advance your undergraduate journey. However, comprehensive universities are more than centers of teaching, we are centers of scientific research. Faculty at UNB include some of the best and brightest researchers in Canada. Not only will faculty of a high caliber teach you in the classrooms and in your undergraduate laboratories, but they will also, if you work hard, welcome you into their research labs to contribute first-hand to the pursuit of knowledge. These quality experiential learning opportunities set comprehensive universities apart from the primarily undergraduate institutions, while our smaller size ensures better one on one attention than offered at the big schools. In short, comprehensive universities offer the best of both worlds, and at UNB we consider ourselves among the best comprehensive universities in Canada.

Pursuing your studies in Science at UNB will unlock a new world of adventure and exploration to challenge your curiosity, prepare you to be successful in the career path of your choice. We aspire to make a real difference in your life, in how you view your own universe, and to prepare you to make a real difference for the benefit of our planet.

Once you start your studies at UNB my advice is to follow your passion. It may lead you down a path that you had not thought to travel. Discover how you learn best – we have many services at UNB to help you in this important task. Grow new friendships – they will enrich your life and help you to become a better person. Challenge your personal limitations – many are self-imposed, you will be surprised at what you can accomplish if you believe that you can. Remember that we are here to help you, but ultimately your degree is your responsibility. Only you can earn the degree and more importantly only you can take advantage of the wealth of experience and knowledge available. At the same time do not lose sight of how special this time is in your life. It’s a time to learn, but not just in the classroom. There are extracurricular, athletic and social activities to enrich your UNB experience. It’s a time to explore ideas that are completely different from what you have known – with an open mind you may come to question perspectives that you currently believe to be truths. Mostly make time to take advantage of every opportunity. Good luck and I look forward to seeing you in Science.