Dr. Imogen Coe, Scientist

Toronto, Canada


“I can't remember a time when I wasn't fascinated by the natural world around me. I always had questions - why were leaves green? How did worms breathe? So I was a scientist from birth, as are all children, curious about the world and how it works. I was fortunate to have the curiosity in the natural world nurtured by my parents, particularly my father, who was a scientist and also a nature-lover. He taught me how to recognize types of trees by the shape of their leaves and helped me learn the names of the various birds and butterflies that we would see in the countryside around the English village where I grew up. My continued fascination with how life worked morphed into a love of learning and a pursuit of the discipline of biology which culminated in a PhD at the University of Victoria in British Columbia. This allowed me to pursue a research career, first at the University of California, San Francisco, then the University of Alberta and ultimately in Toronto, first at York University, then as Founding Dean of the Faculty of Science and now as a Professor at Ryerson University. All along the way, I have often seen how the power of storytelling can help to share a deeper understanding of the world around us. Scientists have an obligation to take their sometimes complex scientific findings and make them accessible and relatable to as broad an audience as possible. I have also seen many in science, who have stories to tell, be silenced. Social justice and a passion for science have been interwoven strands in my life that stretch back as far as I can remember. So, along with pursuing my passion for science, I have also tried to raise the voices of others, and to make space (sometimes demand space) for their stories. Women, people of colour, members of marginalized communities are often not welcomed into science, they are not heard and their stories are not told. This has to change and science will be better for it when we leverage all the talent available to us. We all have stories to tell and when we tell our stories, we help raise the voices of others and encourage them to tell their stories.” Dr. Imogen Coe, Scientist and Professor, Ryerson University

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