Convocation ‘22: Collin Horn, PhD, Biological Sciences (Ecology)

“It's important to find projects you are passionate about, but it's also important to find mentors who you work well with and will empower you to explore.”

Donna McKinnon - 22 November 2022


When Collin Horn was still an undergraduate, he sought out research experience in the lab of Dr. Lien Luong to equip himself with the knowledge that would set him up for the graduate studies that would follow. He stood out from his peers because of the depth of his preparation, the originality of his research questions and his fascination for ecology and parasitology. 

Although his academic work took precedence, he also made time for volunteer activities, including the U of A’s Safewalk and various committee responsibilities.   

“Collin is an exceptionally good experimental biologist, notes Dr. Maya Evenden, an Associate Chair (Undergrad) in the Faculty of Science. “He has published 11 peer-reviewed papers, most of which were born out of original ideas that he generated ⁠— a rare and exceptional accomplishment ⁠— and mentors undergraduate students and incoming graduate students with patience, kindness, and generosity.”

Next up for Collin, securing a post-doctoral position and spending time with his menagerie of pets.  

Congratulations Collin!

What led you to choose your current area of study, and why the U of A for your studies?

I've always been interested in all things infectious. The U of A has some remarkable parasite ecologists, and the opportunity to work on my supervisor Dr. Lien Luong’s Fly-Mite system was great for answering my questions about the ecology of parasites and their hosts.

What is one of your favourite memories from your time at the U of A?

Getting to attend the the American Society of Parasitologists meeting here in Edmonton was a great experience and a major inspiration for deciding to pursue grad school

Did you take on any leadership roles while you were a student?

I volunteered with the U of A’s Safewalk service for five years as an undergrad. I worked my way up from patroller to dispatcher, to eventually the coordinator of the entire organization. I was also elected to the APIRG board. As a grad student I mostly sat on committees and supervised undergraduate research students.

Did you face any significant obstacles or challenges during your program, and if so, how did you respond?

COVID led me to change a lot of plans for the last two years of research. Reading a bunch of papers for new ideas and brainstorming with lab mates helped. It also motivated a modelling project with a great collaborator, so some research could move on online just as everything else did.

What advice do you have for current and future students?

It's important to find projects you are passionate about, but it's also important to find mentors who you work well with and will empower you to explore.

How do you plan on celebrating convocation?

My mom is flying into town for convocation so we're going to have a family dinner.

What's next after graduation?

Fingers crossed that NSERC postdoc funding comes through! Regardless, I want to spend some quality time with the animals ⁠— my gerbils (Traf and Cactus), dogs (Nikos and Kajus), and Hildegard the hamster, and hopefully get some writing done.