The department offers biology courses for pre-university students in the Science and Social Science programs. There are courses in the Science Program for students wishing to pursue studies in general science or the biological/health sciences at university. The introductory Human Biology course in Social Sciences prepares students for studies in Psychology at university.

Biology courses are also taught in the technical programs of Nursing, Pre-Hospital Emergency Care, Dental Hygiene and Biopharmaceutical Production. There is also a complementary course open to non-science students. In the department there are twelve teachers and two technicians who work towards providing courses that are relevant, challenging and stimulating.

There are four laboratories in the department, one dedicated to Anatomy and Physiology , one to General Biology I, one for General Biology II and the other to Microbiology. The Biology Learning Centre is also found in the department and provides students with a study area to review course related material.

Biology Learning Centre

The Biology Learning Centre, located at HS-318, is a study area for students taking Biology courses. The room contains posters, displays, specimens and a good selection of textbooks. In the Centre, students have access to computers, models, slides and other course related material. It is the perfect place to review laboratory related material since all the necessary equipment is made available.

The Biology Learning Centre is open Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Members of the Department

Acton, Beth : Chair

Acton, Beth

514-457-6610 ext. 5754

Beth was born and raised on the West Island and is a John Abbott College Alumni, having graduated from the Natural Science Program.  She then completed her Bachelor of Science Degree in Honours Biochemistry at McGill University.  Beth moved to Toronto to pursue her doctoral degree in Reproductive Physiology at the University of Toronto.  During the course of her research, Beth published several peer-reviewed research articles, presented her work at international conferences and was a teaching assistant.  Beth successfully defended her Doctoral thesis on “Mitochondrial contributions to embryogenesis, oocyte developmental competence and physiological consequences of heteroplasmy”.  Beth’s first teaching post was as an Assistant Professor at SUNY Canton Beth taught Introduction to Biology, College Biology, Human Anatomy I and II and Biology in Society.   Beth moved back to Montreal to her current position at John Abbott in the Fall of 2008 and is very happy to be back home on the West Island.

Charron, Jean-Michel :

Charron, Jean-Michel

514-457-6610 ext. 5870

Daoust, Simon :

Daoust, Simon

514-457-6610 ext. 5143

I was born and raised in the beautiful city of Pointe-Claire and am a John Abbott College alumnus, having graduated from the Natural Sciences Program in 2002. It was actually because of my incredible experiences as a student at the College that I decided to continue my studies in Biology.  I completed my bachelor’s at Concordia University in Honors Biology, my master’s at McGill University in Parasitology and my PhD in Ecology at Université de Montréal. Upon completing my Ph.D., I undertook a Fondation-Fyssen / FQRNT Postdoctoral Fellowship enabling me to work one year at the French National Center for Scientific Research in Montpellier, France and one year at McGill University / Environment Canada in Montreal, Canada; where I worked on various research themes such as evolutionary medicine, ecosystem health and functioning and parasite-host interactions.

“To boldly go where no one has gone before”, made famous by Star Trek, this line also sums up quite eloquently what it is to be a biologist. From insects, parasites, humans and tumors, to communities, ecosystems and global patterns, biologists explore the beautiful, complex and relatively unknown natural world that we inhabit. I am generally interested in how complex systems such as populations, communities and ecosystems function and evolve in response to human activity. My research has focused on three main research themes: (i) the impact of high yield (intensive) farming on ecosystems, (ii) the role of manipulative parasites in structuring species interactions (iii) the application of ecological and evolutionary theory to health problems.

On a more personal note, I’m a huge sci-fi, fantasy, and horror genre geek!


Darwish, Shireef :

Darwish, Shireef

514-457-6610 ext. 5433

I grew up in Nova Scotia with two brothers where the beautiful landscapes of the Annapolis Valley and Bay of Fundy coastline nurtured my love of the living world. In 1999, after taking time after high school to travel Europe, I came to the Macdonald Campus of McGill University with a strong interest in ethnobotany (indigenous plant use) to pursue a B.Sc. in botany. An interest in how plants interact with and respond to their environment led me to study plant-insect interactions at McGill, and in 2007 I earned my M.Sc. for work on changes in gene expression in plants as a defense against caterpillar herbivores. I am an insufferable mycophile (a passionate lover of fungi), and I dedicated myself to learning about this breathtaking kingdom of underappreciated organisms since high school. This led to an opportunity to teach the course Biology of Fungi at McGill University from 2006 to 2008. I began teaching at John Abbott in the fall of 2008 and I remain thrilled to be a part of such a vibrant, knowledgeable, and friendly college and department. Students are always welcome to stop by my office to chat about fungi, plants, evolution, genetics, or strange and exciting music.

Duffy, Neil :

Duffy, Neil

514-457-6610 ext. 5188

Neil was born and raised in Belleville, Ontario. He obtained an Honours B.Sc. (Biology) from Queen's University and completed his M.Sc. at McGill University. Neil began teaching career at McGill while completing his Master’s thesis before moving to John Abbott College in the Fall of 1981. Neil is a serious golfer and has coached the Abbott golf team since 1981. Other interests include travel and the study and photography of coral reefs.

Foam, Patricia :

Foam, Patricia

514-457-6610 ext. 5733

Gordon, Ruth :

Gordon, Ruth

514-457-6610 ext. 5346

Hougan, Linda :

Hougan, Linda

514-457-6610 ext. 5108

I became interested in pursuing Biology largely due to some excellent teachers. I did my undergraduate work at Simon Fraser University and then my graduate studies in Developmental Biology at McGill.

Before moving into teaching, I worked several years at the Biotechnology Reasearch Institute on the molecular genetics of yeast. Since then I have been happily teaching at Champlain Regional College and at John Abbott College

Hughes, Cameron :

Hughes, Cameron

Lapointe, Jason :

Lapointe, Jason

514-457-6610 ext. 5188

Lévesque, Chris :

Lévesque, Chris

514-457-6610 ext. 5732

Millette, Roxane :

Millette, Roxane

514-457-6610 ext. 5706

I was born and raised in the English Townships. I completed my first college diploma in social sciences. Luckily, the program required that students take two biology courses. I realized immediately that I wanted to study life sciences and spent a third year in college in order to complete a second DEC in science. At McGill, I completed a B.Sc. -Honors in Immunology- which is a nice mix of anatomy, physiology, cell biology, microbiology and molecular biology. Then I signed up for graduate school and studied the effect of certain chemokines on the maturation and activation of B lymphocytes. I was granted a M.Sc. in experimental medicine. I decided to become a biology teacher so I completed a B.Ed. I taught science in high school for two years before joining the John Abbott College faculty in 2006.Today I teach the very same biology course that prompted me to switch from social science to life sciences when I was in CÉGEP. As well, I teach anatomy and physiology for technical programs and the pre-university science program. My teaching practice is guided by the principles of active learning and universal design in hopes that my instruction continuously becomes more accessible and engaging to students, so that they can take part in meaningful learning and become life-long, independent learners.

O’Neill, Rory : Laboratory Technician

O’Neill, Rory

Laboratory Technician
514-457-6610 ext. 5766

Parkhill, J.P. :

Parkhill, J.P.

514-457-6610 ext. 5463
AME-312 Biology

JP was born and bred in Nova Scotia. He did his undergraduate degree at University of Western Ontario, and completed his honours degree and PhD at Dalhousie University in Marine Biology and Oceanography respectively. His Doctoral work involved determination of primary production efficiency in phytoplankton using fluorescence measurements. His field program was in the South-Eastern Bering Sea where these measurements can be used to assess oceanic health. It is important to investigate these relationships in order to understand the dynamic nature of plant abundance in global fishing areas. Before moving to Montreal and joining John Abbott in 2006, he conducted research as a post-doctoral fellow at the Institut de Genetique et de Biologie Moleculaire et Cellulaire (University of Louis Pasteur) in Strasbourg, France (2003-2005) where he studied gene expression patterns that regulate development of the zebra fish. At John Abbott he has developed a Marine Science course in Belize, had a stint as Departmental Chair, and continues to encourage the engaged learning of Biology in our JAC community.

Rioux, Marie-Claire :

Rioux, Marie-Claire

514-457-6610 ext. 5473

I bounced quite a bit while growing up, moving between Fredericton, Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver. After falling in love with Staphylococcus aureus in my first year at McGill, I went on to study Microbiology and Immunology. After spending three months in Vietnam, I decided to focus my studies on neglected tropical diseases. I joined Terry Spithill at the Institute of Parasitology at McGill, Macdonald campus, to study the veterinary parasites Fasciola hepatica and Fasciola gigantica. I joined the Biology department at John Abbott in 2009, where I have been happily sharing stories about bacteria, viruses and parasites with technical program students (Nursing, Pre-Hospital Emergency Care and Dental Hygiene) and science students alike.

Rutherford, Sharon :

Rutherford, Sharon

514-457-6610 ext. 5785

Sharon returned to school as a mature student and graduated from John Abbott in 1987. From McGill University she received her B. Sc. (Microbiology, 1991) and M. Sc. (Parasitology, 1994). She subsequently did extensive research investigating means of controlling growth of C. botulinum, the causative agent of botulism. She taught at JAC from 1995 - 1997, then at Marianopolis College from 1997-2001 and returned to her Alma Mater in the fall of 2001.

Sharon was Honours Science Program Co-ordinator for four years, and in this capacity, as well as in other informal community building activities, coordinated enthusiastic members of the JAC family to raise thousands of dollars to help people in Haiti, Pakistan and Mexico. Funds generated from her Pennies for Poultry initiative paid for the construction and stocking of three chicken coops in Kenya and contributed to the purchase of a cow to supplement the income of a children’s home.

One of her favourite activities as a teacher has been coordinating The Lab Project, which she initiated in 1997. This popular activity, which operates thanks to the participation of many research laboratories, exposes students for a few days to the life of the research scientist and helps establish the vital connection between theory and practice. More than 800 students have been able to benefit from this experience. In 2008, Sharon developed the Macdonald Mentoring Project, which exposes students, on a weekly basis, to research performed at McGill’s Macdonald Campus.

Her leisure activities include making soap and volunteering for activities that promote Fair Trade.

Strasser, Rona :

Strasser, Rona

514-457-6610 ext. 5143

I am originally from Ontario but moved to Montréal for university and the increased joie de vivre.  I completed a B.Sc.(Honours) degree in Microbiology and Immunology at the downtown campus of McGill University in 2004.  Being adventurous of spirit, I then travelled all the way to the MacDonald Campus of McGill University where I completed an M.Sc. in Biotechnology in 2006, with a focus on development of drugs against Hepatitis C.  After a brief period in the “real world” I returned to the warmth of academia to pursue a Ph.D. in Parasitology, briefly titled “Protein-protein Interactions of Receptors LdPEX5 and LPEX7 with PTS1 and PTS2 Cargo Proteins, and with Glycosomal Docking Protein LdPEX14 for Protein Import into Leishmania donovani”, completed in 2014.  During that time I had the honour of presenting my research at both local and international conferences.  Toward the end of my Ph.D. I was presented with the opportunity to impart some of the biological knowledge gained over the years to the students at John Abbott College and began teaching and making exaggerated flappy hand motions in the Biology Department in 2014.  Outside of school, I am an avid cyclist, amateur gardener, home-canning enthusiast, and an unapologetic bibliophile.  My door is always open for questions, debates, and discussions about Rosalind Franklin.

Von Roretz, Christopher :

Von Roretz, Christopher

514-457-6610 ext. 5189

Chris is a native Montrealer who enjoys calm walks along the shores of Lac St-Louis at sunset. He is also passionate about molecular biology and a form of cell suicide called “apoptosis”.  His scientific journey has included CEGEP studies at John Abbott and a Bachelor of Science at McGill in Biochemistry. This was followed by graduate work at McGill as well, where Chris earned his PhD while in the lab of Dr. Imed Gallouzi. It is worth mentioning that during his tenure in the Gallouzi lab there was never a radio playing, because Chris would end up singing along too loudly to whatever was on.

After completing his studies Chris helped coordinate a graduate training program in bionanotechnology at McGill, while also teaching part-time, before joining the John Abbott Biology Faculty in the fall of 2013. He has loved every minute here since then thanks to the beautiful campus, fabulous new sciences building, amazing staff, and perhaps most importantly, the dynamic and inspiring students.

Outside of science, Chris is an outdoors enthusiast who particularly enjoys hiking and soccer. He has been known to hike in questionable costumes including as a ninja and in a three-piece suit. He is also keen about community involvement, particularly with Scouts Canada, where he has been volunteering for over 15 years.



We teach courses in the Science, Social Science, Dental Hygiene, Nursing, Pre-hospital Emergency Care and Biopharmaceutical Production programs. We also teach a General Education Complementary course. We invite you to browse through the appropriate sections of the Program Structure

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