Job Title:Full Professor
Employer:Wilfrid Laurier University
Grad Year:1987
Degree(s):PhD Biology
Major(s):Biology (BSc)

What makes you a good mentor?

1). I like young people and would like to share with them my experiences. I think I have much to offer. I became a scientist when it was not easy to find a job and sat in committees when there were not yet a lot of women in the academia. I left a large family in France to settle in Canada, I also lived in some places where it was not good to be a foreigner. 2). I know how important mentorship can be in a career. Many people have helped me along the way, mentors but also colleagues and collaborators. I still have contact with some of my mentors and we still exchange on ideas, books, and life. I learned from them and would not be who I am today without their input. 3). I see it as a beneficial symbiosis, where students could learn from my success and failures, and I could learn from them and the path they took. For me, it is a two-sided relationship.

About Frédérique Guinel

I retired in September 2019 from the Department of Biology at Wilfrid Laurier University where I worked for 24 years. I taught many courses, including “Plants – Form and Function” and “Communication and Critical-Thinking Skills in Biology”, and supervised many undergrad and grad students. With them, I studied the interactions existing between beneficial soil microorganisms and roots of higher plants, especially those of peas. I used several pea mutants to decipher the roles played by plant hormones in the development of these symbioses. Towards the end of my career, I worked with an industry to test the feasibility of using an agromineral rock as an alternative to chemical fertilizers. Together with students, farmers, and the industry, we attempted to determine whether or not crops, specifically wheat, pea, and vine, benefited from the agromineral.

I moved to Canada in 1981 when I came to study for a PhD at Carleton. I was excited about the studies I was going to undertake but quite naive about Canada. The learning curve was steep but in the end worth it. With my PhD completed, I entered a long path of post-doctoral studies which made me travel to Missouri and New-York State in the US, to St. Catharines in ON, and to Sackville in NB. I finally settled in Waterloo, ON, where I climbed the academic ladder. During my academic career, I was much involved with the Canadian Botanical Association (CBA), and I became its President in 2012 till 2014.

Currently, I am learning to become a retiree. It is not as easy as one would expect. I moved to Ottawa in November 2019, got rid of my car, and am settling in the city from a pedestrian point of view. I spend much time “naturalizing” along the Rideau River, observing and photographing plants and wildlife. I am reading, going to movies, concerts and museums, and meeting with old and new friends. I am still involved in writing publications (the last ones!) and am helping the CBA as its Archivist.