Convocation ‘23: Christy Chan, BSc Honors in Physiology, Lieutenant-Governor's Gold Medal in Science

Donna McKinnon - 08 June 2023


An enthusiastic and deeply curious student, Christy Chan maximized her education to gain a diversity of knowledge and experience that would help her reach her goal of becoming a physician-scientist, serving as a link ‘between the bench and the bedside’.  

As an honors student in physiology, Christy took advantage of the flexibility of her program to learn everything from physics to paleontology, but it was her involvement in neuroendocrinology, cardiovascular and reproductive health research, she says, that solidified her intent to pursue medicine as a career. In her fourth year of her honors program, Christy contributed to a peer-reviewed publication, an uncommon achievement for an undergraduate student.

Beyond the classroom, Christy volunteered with the Science Mentor Program and the Undergraduate Physiology Students’ Association and says it was through these clubs and programs that she met her closest friends. 

This spring, Christy was recognized with the Lieutenant-Governor's Gold Medal in Science, awarded to the convocating student from an Honors program in the Faculty of Science who has shown the highest distinction in scholarship.

Congratulations Christy!


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

I have always been interested in learning about human body function from a young age, but in high school, I felt that there seemed to be very few opportunities to receive a hands-on learning experience. Since the physiology honors program aligned with my curiosity and passion for the biomedical sciences and offered students the option to pursue an undergraduate research project in their senior years, I knew that this would be an excellent choice.

The idea of being able to hone the knowledge and skills I learned from class in a laboratory setting strongly appealed to me.

Tell us about your experience in your program.

I have been fortunate to enjoy a wealth of learning opportunities within the Faculty of Science through my academic coursework, research and extracurricular activities. The flexibility of the physiology degree despite being an honors program allowed me to explore other areas in STEM besides human biology — I took electives in physics and even paleontology! Throughout my undergraduate career, I have also been involved in neuroendocrinology, cardiovascular, and reproductive health research and these projects ultimately helped solidify my career goal. 

Lastly, I acted as a mentor for first-year students through the Science Mentor Program and served students in the physiology program through my involvement in the Undergraduate Physiology Students’ Association. These experiences were extremely rewarding, and I am so grateful for all of them, along with the amazing students, professors and staff members who have greatly supported me.

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

My favourite memory was doing an undergraduate research thesis about the effects of advanced maternal age on blood vessel function in pregnant women under the supervision of Sandra Davidge. My mentors in the lab were all extremely supportive and truly helped me grow and develop my critical thinking and technical skills. The highlight was ultimately being able to contribute to a peer-reviewed publication! Additionally, the Davidge lab was exceptional in forming a tightly knit group among our lab members. Our social events such as a barbecue party at my supervisor’s acreage were always something I looked forward to after lab work! 

Tell us about your favourite professor and/or class.

My favourite class was PHYSL 409 (Homeostatic Physiology), taught by Shereen Hamza. Shereen is such a knowledgeable, caring and engaging professor, and she adapted to both online and in-person teaching formats exceedingly well. The course provided an integrative view of human bodily processes such as nutrient metabolism and cardiovascular homeostasis which was extremely eye-opening to me.

What advice do you have for current and future students?

It would be to get involved in clubs! I found it a lot easier to connect with people who also shared similar interests with me outside academics. Through participating in extracurricular activities, I met with my closest friends at the U of A.

How do you plan on celebrating convocation?

I plan on taking some time off to spend with friends and family, along with getting back into my hobbies such as karate. I would also like to travel!

What's next after graduation?

I plan on pursuing graduate studies and medical school in the future. Through my academic involvement, I have come to realize how valuable and important basic science research is in exploring the underlying mechanisms of bodily function and disease states. Therefore, I aim to serve as a link between the bench and the bedside in my future career as a physician-scientist.


Christy joins fellow medal recipients Devika Shreekumar (Dean's Gold Medal in Science) and  Brandon Truong (Gold Medal in Science).