Have you met Tracy Raivio?

On July 1, Tracy Raivio will step into her new role as acting chair in the Department of Biological Sciences.

Katie Willis - 29 June 2021

Beginning on July 1, 2021, Tracy Raivio will become the interim chair in the Department of Biological Sciences for a six-month term. Raivio has also served as associate chair (graduate studies) in the department and associate dean (awards and scholarships) in the Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research. She is an expert in microbiology and molecular genetics. 

Hear from Raivio on her favourite courses to teach and her vision for the department. 

Tell us about the focus of your research program. 

My research group studies how bacteria sense and adapt to environmental changes. We are especially interested in understanding how microbes interact with host organisms to promote health or cause disease.

What is your favourite course to teach? 

That's tough. I love teaching GENET 270: The Foundations of Molecular Genetics, because I get to introduce lots of students to my favourite life forms—bacteria and their viruses. I am also very passionate about teaching GENET 415: Current Topics In Bacterial Genetics, because I can immerse myself and students in all the latest research related to how bacteria interact with the environment through their envelope, and how these processes impact colonization, disease, and antibiotic resistance. 

What is the biggest strength/opportunity that you see for the department in the next six months? 

Being together again to brainstorm the challenges of returning to campus and navigating our new environment.

What is your first memory at the U of A?

I transferred to the U of A from Red Deer College for the last two years of my undergraduate BSc specializing in genetics—so my first memory is probably being freaked out by how big the campus and my classes were! I also have great memories of my cytogenetics classmates and spending lots of time in a dark room developing pictures of squashed Drosophila salivary glands to visualize chromosomes.

What’s something that people might be surprised to learn about you? 

I was the pitcher on my graduate school softball team.

Where is your favourite place on campus?

So many! But I really love sitting on the lawn on the north side of the Biological Sciences Building, next to the River Valley. I also love the Quad in front of CCIS in winter near the holidays when it is all lit up in the evening.

If you were enrolling in one course, program or degree right now, what would it be?

I have always been fascinated by ancient ruins and historical sites, so probably a course or program related to archaeology.

What’s something your coworkers don’t know about you?

I was painfully shy growing up.

What advice would you give your 18-year-old self?

Engage with the people and opportunities around you. Cast your net wide!