Haley Zubyk interviews and reports | Shari-Ann McCollin
What is your favourite part about the job?
If you’ve ever have had the pleasure to attend a class in one of the
biochemistry teaching labs, you can’t help but pick up on Shari’s
welcoming and positive attitude. With this in mind, after asking what
the favourite part of her job is, you wouldn’t be surprised to hear
her reply with “I enjoy learning quickly in lab, and working with the
students…so much so that I wish I could remember everyone’s name.”
What is one of the challenges you’ve had to overcome on the job?
In addition to her great company, let’s not forget to mention that Shari
is also great at her job. However, as easy as she makes it look, Shari
admits to there being a steep learning curve at the beginning of her job as
undergraduate lab assistant. Nonetheless, she took the challenge head
on – “Things had changed since my degree including the techniques
learned in lab! But I enjoyed the steep learning curve because there was
no time to second-guess myself. I liked jumping into things.”
What is one of your most memorable experiences on the job?
It took a bit of sifting through all of the great memories as a lab
assistant, but just as things often do in biochemistry, it came down
to PCR – “One of my happiest moments was when I got my PCR to
work for the first time. There was some serious joy when I saw those
bands appear on my gel!”
What advice would you like to give to an undergraduate student?
As an individual who has had the McMaster undergraduate
experience, take it from one Marauder to another when Shari says
that while grades are important, they are not everything. “Get
involved. You don’t have to be on the football team, but just do stuff.
You’re only here for four years so enjoy the time you have.”
What are your hobbies outside of work?
“I read. I read a lot.” And that is no lie! Shari reads around 3-5 books
per week, and let’s keep in mind that “it doesn’t count as a book
unless it’s at least 200 pages long.” Shari is now on her 92nd book
of the year and has read over 600 novels between 2012-2015. “My
favourite genre would be paranormal and suspense romance” she
says, “… but not Twilight.”
What are your plans for the future?
As for how Shari sees her future, “It’s pretty much McMaster till I die
so I plan to be doing something here at Mac. I enjoy working with
the students so it would have to be a job where I can help them out
either in an advising capacity or teaching them lab skills. Whatever I
can do to help.”
Shari-Ann McCollin is a member of the biochemistry
staff at McMaster University and plays an extremely
important role as the undergraduate lab assistant.
Missing a restriction enzyme? Need help setting up
your gel? Shari is your go-to. She has been a McMaster
Marauder since ’94 and still can’t get enough!
After completing her biochemistry degree at McMaster
University in 1998, Shari decided that she was not quite
ready to take on the world outside of school. Rather
than taking time off, she signed up for a degree in
computer sciences. During her fourth year thesis Shari
worked in an occupational health lab that would soon
kick-start her long-term connection with McMaster.
When her thesis project was not entirely wrapped up
by the end of the school year, she was invited to stay
and work for the summer. By the time the four months
had passed, Shari was offered a permanent position as a
level 5 lab technician. This would begin the next chapter
in her life, or as she calls it, “How I ended up never
Unfortunately, the occupational health lab ended up
closing in 2013 and Shari left McMaster to work at a
company that specialized in quality assurance.
However, after only a short time, a former McMaster
colleague brought a job opening to her attention,
which brings us to the Shari we all know today as our
amazing undergraduate lab assistant!
Shari-Ann McCollin (left), with Haley Zubyk, 4th year BDC student