Putting Theory to Practice

Undergraduate Program

Undergraduate Testimonials


Harry Marshall
Brian Witruk Mike Connolly
Harry Marshall
2008 BMSc graduate
Honors Specialization
Medical Biophysics

MD/PhD candidate
at Western
Brian Witruk
2004 BMSc graduate
Honors Specialization
Medical Biophysics

Ontario Power Generation
Darlington Ontario Station
Michael Connolly
2008 BMSc graduate
Honors Specialization
Medical Biophysics

medical student


Harry Marshall

Harry Marshall
BMSc Graduate
Bachelor of Medical Sciences Honors (4 year)
Honors Specialization in Medical Biophysics
(Medical Science Concentration)
M.D./PhD Candidate
2009 NSERC Alexander Graham Bell Scholarship Award


" When I started university, I intended to undertake a double major in biology and physics with a concurrent minor in chemistry. This, I quickly learned, was not the best idea as the workload would have been obscene. So I was left in a position a lot of students find themselves in at some point, wondering what I should pursue for my undergraduate degree. One afternoon, I was aimlessly flipping through the pages of University of Western Ontario's academic  calendar when I stumbled across a program I'd never heard of before: Medical Biophysics. I was intrigued, and signed up on a whim. It was the best whim I ever had.

When I attended my first medical biophysics class, the first thing that struck me was the class size; there were only about 25 people (a sharp contrast to my class 0f 3500 in first year bio). Everyone, therefore, became friends very quickly, which made coming to class every day lots of fun. The classes themselves were phenomenal as well. The material was interesting and varied with topics ranging from oxygen diffusion through contact lenses to advanced medical imaging techniques. Finally, the program is highly flexible, allowing students to pursue the aspects of medical and physical science that appeal to them.

But the best thing about medical biophysics didn't dawn on me until after I graduated. The graduate program is very large (over 90 grad students), and is closely affiliated to some of the most successful laboratories in Canada (Robart's Research, The Lawson Health Research Institute, etc.). Thus, when you graduate from biophysics, you will have already worked closely with some world class scientists who are in a great position to help you achieve your career goals. I certainly know I wouldn't be where I am today if it weren't for the enormous support of the excellent medical biophysics faculty. "

Harry Marshall, B.M.Sc.
MD/PhD Candidate
University of Western Ontario

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Brian Witruk

Brian Witruk
Honors Specialization
Medical Biophysics 2004

Engineering and Applied Science Trainee
Reactor Physics - fuel and Physics
Ontario Power Generation - Darlington Nuclear Generating Station

Friday, May 27th, 2005

"Hello Everybody,

It's Brian Witruk, hopefully you all remember me. I recently graduated from the Biophysics program. It has been a year since I graduated and I have joined the work force at Darlington Nuclear Generating Station. I'd thought it may be beneficial to provide some feedback on the biophysics program from someone who has not gone on to Med/Dental/Grad school. To be honest when I left Western with degree in hand, I had my doubts about how relevant it would be in the "real world".

To my surprise, my degree has been astonishingly relevant. I work in the reactor physics department and my education in Biophysics has been a huge help. I was hired several months ago, along with 25 other new grads, all with degrees in Electrical/Mechanical engineering; I was the only outlier with my Biophysics degree.

 We entered into an 8 week in class training program where we were taught/refreshed science and engineering fundamentals. The teacher was extremely impressed with my breadth of knowledge. The training period consisted of courses on thermodynamics, flow dynamics (turbulent vs. laminar flow), radiation physics, radiation biology, stress vs. strain. Not to mention a 2-day course on Ion chambers (my thesis was to study ion chambers). I found myself laughing that this training course was almost like a quick summary on the biophysics program, and that the reason the teachers was so impressed with my knowledge was that I had seen ALL (literally)of it before.

My hemodynamics course, Chem 254, Radiation Biology 467, Biophysics 302 and 303 Oust to name a few); all of these courses were directly applicable to my training and to my job. Other programs at Western get very specific in their focus; I really liked that the Biophysics program touched on a wide variety of subjects. I have no doubt that my success in my new job is primarily because of the excellent Biophysics program Western has. I encourage you guys to keep up the good work, and keep the program as diverse and deep as it is now and to not get too focused on specific subjects within the scope of Biophysics such as imaging. On a more specific note, Dr. Ellis' 7 steps to problem solving has been very useful. Dr. Ellis taught us a method to solving problems in Biophysics 303, at the time it did not seem all that relevant but his method to solving problems even helped me get this job. I was given a problem to solve in my interview, not unlike in Biophysics 303 the problem was near impossible to solve but was a tactic to see how one solves problems. Sufficed to say the interviewers were very impressed with the 7 steps of problem solving. I was actually asked in training to present my problem solving method to the rest of the class, luckily I had my 303 notes to bring in, and of course all credit was given to Dr. Ellis and the Biophysics Department.

Ihope this feedback has been useful. I would really like to sincerely thank everyone in the Biophysics Department for my education. Not until now have I realized just how amazing and empowering my Biophysics degree is. The Biophysics program is very challenging, but I know now, a very rewarding program as well. Keep up the good work.

If you have any questions feel free to email back. As well feel free to forward this email to anybody that could find it useful."

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Mike ConnollyMike Connolly
Honors Specialization
Medical Biophysics 2008

 "A major accomplishment for me was recently handing in my undergraduate thesis. My project was dealing with image guided surgery for biopsy of the prostate. The Basic Medical Sciences program at Western is one of the few programs that present you with the opportunity to conduct meaningful medical research as on undergraduate student with distinguished faculty who are leaders in their fields.

The courses in my module have dealt with such diverse and cutting edge topics as medical imaging, radiation therapy and hemodynamics.  These courses have challenged me and given me the skills in problem solving, self·directed learning, and communication that are paramount for success in any future career.  While at Western, I have  been a port of the men's squash team, the Science Students' Council and the first year student orientation program. All of these activities have granted me the good
fortune to make friends, memories and contributed to my development as a person. Being well rounded is something that is encouraged and rewarded at Western as it is in life."

Dr. Fenster and Mike ConnollyBMSc Student Sees Future in 3-D
Article by Dawne Mills
Photo by Shawn Simpson
SSM&D Rapport Magazine

After witnessing patients' gratitude while watching his father, a dermatologist, perform rural clinics in Sioux Lookout, Ontario about eight years ago, Mike Connolly was inspired to become a doctor.  His desire to accomplish something every day led him to Western for his post-secondary education because the school has a reputation for providing the best and most diverse student experience.  Connolly wanted to broaden his horizons as well as his mind.

"I didn't even tour any other universities in high school.  I knew I wanted to come to Western because it has such a strong reputation and now that I've been here, I know that reputation is deserved," he says.

He chose Western's Bachelor of Medical Sciences (BMSc) program, a joint program between the Faculty of Science and the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry.  Although he now hopes to go to medical school next year and pursue a career in family medicine, he originally wasn't sure which area interested him.  Connolly says he felt the BMSc program would give him broad exposure to research and other medically relevant professions.  To that end, the program has delivered.

Connolly has been working with Dr. Aaron Fenster, director of imaging a the world-renowned Robarts Research Institute, evaluating a new system for 3-D prostate biopsies.

"It has been a phenomenal experience for me. I don't think there are many other universities where you'd get this kind of an opportunity," says Connolly.  "Some students' undergraduate research projects are getting published, which shows the level and influence of the research that you can be involved in."

Connolly is pursuing having his own thesis work regarding the prostate biopsy system published in a clinical journal.

He has also had opportunities to interact with other academic leaders, such as the deans in his program.  He says the "student-friendliness" of the deans really enhanced his student experience.

"I'm impressed with the dedication they have for their students," says Connolly.  He has collaborated with Dr. Kem Rogers, Associate Dean of Basic Medical Sciences Undergraduate Education at Schulich Medicine & Dentistry, on a variety of events, including a career night for Medical Sciences students.  Connolly was also part of a 10-member team, spearheaded by Rogers, which represented Schulich Medicine & Dentistry in the 2008 Ride to Conquer Cancer, a fundraising bike ride in support of cancer research at Toronto's Princess Margaret Hospital.

Rogers says he interacts with students because they are the reason he's there.

"It's important to be approachable.  You have to break down the barriers that say I'm in a position of authority over you,"says Rogers.

An avid squash player since grade school, another highlight of Connolly's Western experience was playing varsity squash under Jack Fairs, an 84-year-old multi-sport guru who has led the Western men's squash team to 25 consecutive provincial university titles.  Fairs also inspires athletes to pursue excellence in academics.

"When I first came to Western, Jack told me that it is no coincidence that in the term 'student athlete', the word 'student' comes first," notes Connolly.

Fenster, Rogers, Fairs - Connolly has had many mentors at Western.  And because of their inspiration, he has become a mentor himself.  He has volunteered as a frosh leader for the Faculty of Science and provided a voice to students as the Vice President Academic of the Science Students' Council.  His contributions earned him the  University Students' Council Student Award of Merit.

In addition to a career in medicine, Connolly hopes to teach some day and inspire future generations of doctors just as his father and his mentors at Western inspired him.

"I have been fortunate to have had a lot of knowledge, experience and values shared with me at Western and I look forward to continuing my education and  passing what I have learned on to others," he says.

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Important News for 2014 Graduate Applicants

In Your Statement of Intent, 
please indicate in which area(s) of graduate research you are interested & why your academic and research background has attributes relevant to your intention to pursue a graduate degree in Medical Biophysics.

If you are a domestic applicant - START HERE - to submit your application.

If you are applying to the PhD Med Biop Clin MSc CAMPEP Accredited stream of the Medical Biophysics graduate program - START HERE

If you are an international applicant - START HERE - to submit your application.

MUST READ: Graduate Chair's Notes for All MBP Students

The Top 10 Things A MBP Graduate Student Needs To Know (presented by Baraa Al-Khazraji, senior PhD student)

Above presentations best viewed using Google Chrome

Western's Learning Skills Services for Graduate Students offers excellent advice and counselling about balancing the challenges of conducting research, writing your dissertation, and maintaining a personal life. An effective example of their services is tips on time management

View the Slide Show from the 2013 A. C. Burton Lecture

Best viewed using Google Chrome

In Memory of Dr. Alan C. Groom, Professor Emeritius, the Alan C. Groom Memorial Fund Has Been Established. See Presentation  ...
Best viewed using Google Chrome


Founder, Medical Biophysics, UWO, and
Canadian Medical Hall of Fame Inductee


View UWO Libraries video seminars presented by globally recognized scientists covering all biomedical topics


Also of interest:

Department of Medical Biophysics - Learning through Research