To There and Back Again

There are many roads facing students when they leave the BUbble. For some this can mean entry into the work force, for others post-graduate studies. For proud alumna Dr. Amy Svotelis ’01 a Bachelor of Science – Honours in Biology, it started a journey that has ultimately led her back home to Bishop’s.

“I had a really good feeling when I saw the job posting for Director of Research and Graduate Studies,” says Dr. Svotelis. “My Bishop’s years as a student were great, and I was definitely interested in coming back.”

Dr. Svotelis had been working as the Assistant Scientific Director of the Center for Research at the Centre hospitalier universitaire de Sherbrooke (CRCHUS), part of the CIUSSS de l’Estrie–CHUS, the regional Integrated University Health and Social Services Centre affiliated with the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences of the Université de Sherbrooke. The job that led Dr. Svotelis to this position was her experience as Research Coordinator in Orthopedic Surgery at the CRCHUS. The career move called on her abilities in organizing and strategic planning, while offering plenty of learning opportunities along the way.

Dr. Amy Svotelis ’01

“My time at the CRCHUS definitely improved my communication skills and gave me the opportunity to learn about research with human subjects,” she says. “I was required to meet with many people and help the general public to understand why research is of major importance.”

A self-described ‘active complainer,’ Amy strives to address problems as they arise. “I’m not the person who just complains. If there is a problem, I want to do something about it.”

Prior to her time with the CRCHUS, she had completed an M.Sc. in Anatomy and Cell Biology and a Ph.D. in Molecular Biology at Université de Sherbrooke, in between which she taught as a contract faculty in Bishop’s Biology Department. Amy knew though that research administration was where her interest lay.

“My original plan was to become an environmental biologist,” she says. “When I was a kid, I wanted to save the sharks – and their reputation. But I began to realize that being an individual researcher was not something I craved. My passion lies in helping research happen and in forging collaborations. I’m more of a facilitator than a creator.”

The new position at Bishop’s is an exciting challenge for Dr. Svotelis. She sees great potential for the University to up its research profile and looks forward to helping individual and collaborative projects move forward.

“I loved the people and the staff, and I was just getting to cruising altitude at the CRCHUS. But I saw that I could bring something to Bishop’s with the skill set I has gained and knowing the place so well.”

“My work as Director of Research and Graduate Studies is to move along the research plan and further develop it in regard to collaboration and multi-disciplinary projects. There is interesting research being done at Bishop’s. I can see different links that I can make between researchers and how I can promote their work. The point is to have graduate programs that mirror the enormous amount of expertise we have at Bishop’s.”

Of course, there is also a sentimental component for the accomplished alumna to return to her alma mater. Dr. Svotelis knows firsthand the supportive and inclusive nature of Bishop’s student and faculty, and the close bonds that are formed in the trenches of postsecondary academia.

“You create such a family at Bishop’s,” she says. “And maybe that’s the one thing that is both good and a little sad. There’s such a feeling of togetherness, but then you spread out all over the world. Of my core university girlfriends, one friend is in BC, one is in Nova Scotia and one is in the Cayman Islands. Just like any family, I miss them but at the same time, I am deeply thankful for them.”

Learn more about Research at Bishop’s University by checking our website.

The interview was originally published in the Summer 2020 edition of the Alumni Magazine, which you can download on our website.

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