The Biology department offers courses for pre-university students and health career technology programs.

Science Program:

The Science Program (200.B1) has two required Biology courses; Cellular Biology and Ecology. Students can also pursue additional Biology courses through taking Science Option Courses or their Project Course with a biological theme.

Social Science:

The introductory Human Biology course is required for students in the Social Science Psychology profile.

Health Career Programs:

Biology courses are also taught in the health career programs of Nursing, Paramedic Care, Dental Hygiene, Pharmacy Technology and Biopharmaceutical Production.

Complementary Courses:

Complementary courses are offered to non-science students as part of a student’s General Education; the specific courses offered vary each semester.

Faculty and Staff:

In the department there are fourteen teachers and two technicians who work towards providing courses that are relevant, challenging and stimulating.

Lab Facilities:

There are four laboratories in the department, one dedicated to anatomy and physiology, one equipped for molecular biology experiments, one for ecology and environmental experiments and a dedicated-microbiology lab.

Biology Learning Centre

The Biology Learning Centre, located at AME-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 attended John Abbott's Natural Science Program before moving on to her BSc in Honour's Biochemistry (2000) at McGill. Beth then pursued her PhD in Reproductive Physiology (2006) at the University of Toronto, studying the role of mitochondria in oocyte quality as related to female infertility. During her PhD she worked as a lab technologist in cord blood and assisted reproductive technology labs, as a teaching assistant and volunteered as an Executive Director of the University of Toronto's "Let's Talk Science" student outreach organization. While writing her thesis Beth began her teaching career at SUNY Canton, primarily teaching Introductory Biology and Human Anatomy and Physiology for Nursing students. Beth was recruited back to JAC in 2008 by Sharon Rutherford, who was her General Biology II teacher during her DEC.
Beth is currently the Chair of the Biology Department, and teaches Pathophysiology for Paramedics. She is also interested in educational pedagogy and tech tools to help improve her teaching and to help students develop their transversal skills.
Outside of JAC Beth is an active volunteer at her summer community pool and through her children's many sports teams and activities. She has two dogs that she likes to cuddle while reading in her spare time.

Charron, Jean-Michel :

Charron, Jean-Michel

514-457-6610 ext. 5870

Dagenais, Maryse :

Dagenais, Maryse

514-457-6610 ext. 5726

Maryse completed her bachelor’s degree in Biology and her PhD in Biochemistry, both at McGill University. Her doctoral's thesis focused on the role of the innate immune system on the development of colorectal and breast cancer. She worked at the Canadian Cancer’s Society before joining John Abbott college in 2019.

Daoust, Simon :

Daoust, Simon

514-457-6610 ext. 5143

Academic Biography

  • D.E.C. John Abbott College
  • B.Sc. Concordia University (Honours Biology)
  • M.Sc. McGill University (Parasitology)
  • PhD Université de Montréal (Community and Spatial Ecology)
  • Postdoc C.N.R.S. Montpellier, France (Evolutionary Medicine)
A little bit about me: I love Science! From Evolutionary Ecology to Astrophysics, I love it all! Let’s chat about awesome Science! I’m a total geek, so if you like board games, D&D, Star trek, Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, Avatar the Last Airbender, Marvel, etc. come and chat! I love eating and making good food! Come and share your recipes with me! I'm an advocate for LGBTQ+ representation in STEM.


Darwish, Shireef :

Darwish, Shireef

514-457-6610 ext. 5433

Shireef came from Nova Scotia to attend McGill university where he earned his B.Sc. in Botanical Science. He stayed at McGill to research plant-insect interactions for his M.Sc.
He taught the Biology of Fungi course at McGill's Macdonald campus from 2004-2006 before joining John Abbott's biology department in 2006.

Shireef is an inveterate mycophile (lover of fungi) and invites one and all to come talk about the wonderfully weird world of mushrooms, molds, and yeasts. He is passionate about the arts, particularly music and literature, and is an avid collector of vinyl records.

Foam, Patricia :

Foam, Patricia

514-457-6610 ext. 5733

Patricia has always loved Ecology and the aquatic environment. Anything to do with fish. This led her to get a Master's Degree in Ecology with a specialization in Behavioural and Community Ecology from Concordia University. She started teaching at John Abbott in 2004 and has been happily settled ever since.


Gordon, Ruth :

Gordon, Ruth

514-457-6610 ext. 5346

Hughes, Cameron :

Hughes, Cameron


Cameron was born and (mostly) raised in Montreal. She fell in love with the natural world at an early age, spending her days exploring the woods near her house, net and specimen jar in hand. Her education took a somewhat circuitous route; after high school, she attended the Liberal Arts programme at John Abbott but then decided to pursue an undergraduate degree in Environmental Studies at McGill, as there was not enough focus on bugs in the arts. After earning her bachelor’s degree, she enrolled in a second undergraduate programme – this time in Honours Biology at Concordia, before completing her M.Sc. at McMaster University, where her research focused on heart development and growth in the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster, combining two of her great passions: entomology and aging. She returned to John Abbott to teach in 2019.

In her natural habitat, Cameron may be found nerding out over science fiction and boardgames, thinking up bad puns, and enjoying the outdoors (when its not covered in snow).

Lapointe, Jason :

Lapointe, Jason

514-457-6610 ext. 5188

Jason completed his undergraduate (BSc. in Biology) and graduate studies (MSc. in Anatomy and Cell Biology) at McGill University; his Master’s thesis focused on cell signaling in insect immune responses. Afterwards, he remained in the laboratory to explore new fields of biological research; namely, signaling pathways in single cell injuries and identifying apoptosis-protective genes. Later, he moved to South Korea to teach academic and scientific writing to undergraduate students at Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology and Grade 10-12 earth science, biology, and anatomy at Global Prodigy Academy. In 2017, he returned to Montreal and began working in the Biology Department at John Abbott College where he enjoys teaching anatomy and physiology. During his time at the college, he has participated in several projects involved in creating digital pedagogical materials and implementing new technologies in the classroom, the latter including the use of virtual reality equipment and developing educational video games.

His leisurely pursuits are fairly nerdy; he enjoys playing board games and video games and reading science fiction and is usually pretty up-to-date on popular television shows. He enjoys weight-lifting, jiu-jitsu, cycling, and snowboarding, while his more creative hobbies include cooking, fermenting (beer and kimchi), and woodworking.

Lévesque, Chris :

Lévesque, Chris

514-457-6610 ext. 5732

Chris did his undergraduate studies at UQAM (Honours Biology) and UVic (Marine Biology) and obtained a Ph.D. from UQAM (Deep-sea hydrothermal vent ecology). He completed postdoctoral work at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (California) on deep-sea carbon cycling and carbon sequestration, before joining John Abbott College in 2005.

Chris is an outdoor enthusiast. He loves running, scuba diving, kayaking, mountain biking and other forms of playing outdoor.

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

Pagnucco, Katie :

Pagnucco, Katie

514-457-6610 ext. 5108

Katie completed her Honors Bachelor of Science degree at the University of Western Ontario in 2007, where her honors thesis investigated nest parasitism by cowbirds. She then completed her Masters of Science at the University of Alberta in 2010, where she looked at use of under-road tunnels by an endangered population of salamanders in Waterton Lakes National Park. In 2015, Katie finished her PhD at McGill University, where she looked at the impacts of invasive species on aquatic communities. In 2015, Katie began teaching at another CEGEP while completing a post-doctoral fellowship at UQAM and also course lecturing at McGill University. As of 2018, Katie has been teaching full-time at John Abbott College, where she can commonly be found teaching to core Science Program courses, as well as being one of the coordinators of the Independent Research Project in Science Course.

Katie loves sharing her passion for science and learning beyond the classroom, through her science comedy podcast, Learn Real Good, and by running workshops where she teaches science communication skills to researchers using improv games. Katie is also an avid knitter, bass player, improv comedy performer, and model-builder.

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. I have been a member of the John Abbott community in the Biology Department since 2006.

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.

Strasser, Rona :

Strasser, Rona

514-457-6610 ext. 5730

  • BSc-H - Microbiology and Immunology (McGill)
  • Masters (Applied) - Biotechnology (McGill)
  • PhD - Parasitology (McGill)
I like crossword puzzles and random trivia.
Rosalind Franklin is my hero and if you see me sitting in my office then yes, you please come and ask me that question, even if I'm not your teacher.

Von Roretz, Christopher :

Von Roretz, Christopher

514-457-6610 ext. 5189

His scientific journey has included CEGEP studies at John Abbott and a Bachelor of Science at McGill in Biochemistry, with a minor in Pharmacology. This was followed by graduate work at McGill as well, where Chris earned his PhD while in the lab of Dr. Imed Gallouzi studying the role of RNA processing on apoptosis (cell suicide). 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, while also teaching part-time. He is still today an Affiliate Member and guest-lecturer of McGill's Biochemistry Department. In 2013 Chris joined the John Abbott Biology Faculty and has loved every minute here since, thanks to the beautiful campus, amazing staff, and perhaps most importantly, the dynamic and inspiring students.
Outside of science, Chris adores travel and discovering new places, both locally and abroad. He is an outdoors enthusiast who particularly enjoys hiking, having been known to occasionally do so in costumes including a three-piece suit or as a ninja. He is also keen about community involvement, particularly with Scouts Canada, community theatre, and municipal politics.



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