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#UofTGrad17: Award-winning animal devotee glad she chose U of T Scarborough

Archchana Rajmohan won the Charles H. Turner Award from the Animal Behavioral Society for her research into black widow spiders. She will be returning to U of T Scarborough this fall for a Master's in Environmental Science. (Photo by Ken Jones)

Having grown up in Aurora, Ontario, Archchana Rajmohan has always been surrounded by greenspace and animals. She can’t recall there ever being a time without animals in her house. Her family raises chickens, goats, horses, and owns cats and dogs. Rajmohan says this is where her obsession for animals and animal behaviour began.

Rajmohan is graduating with a Major in Mental Health and a double Minor in Biology and Anthropology. Although she only chose it as a minor, Rajmohan gravitates toward Biology and took an extra year of courses to build her resume in the field. She was awarded a Biology Students’ Association Scholarship in 2014.

On top of the extra courses, Rajmohan is also a lab manager on campus and is currently finishing a research project on hybridization and sperm allocation in different species of black widow spiders. She will be returning to U of T Scarborough in the fall for a Master’s in Environmental Science.

This research project, to which she devoted an entire year and endless all-nighters, won her the Charles H. Turner award from the Animal Behavioural Society. The award is aimed at expanding diversity within the Animal Behavioural Society and gives first-generation post-secondary students fully paid access to the international Animal Behavioural Society Conference that was, coincidentally, hosted at U of T Scarborough this year. Rajmohan, whose parents emigrated from Sri Lanka, was one of only two student recipients from Ontario.

She was offered a lot of research opportunities on campus. “It’s great that UTSC gave me the opportunity in a range of labs and fields. Some of my friends at other universities never got those chances,” says Rajmohan. “It made me really happy that I chose to UTSC.”

Rajmohan started with helping on others’ research in the lab — feeding lab animals, cleaning their cages. Eventually her strong work ethic and excellent performance led to conducting her own research project for publication.

Rajmohan is especially grateful to Professor and Vice-President of Diversity and Equity, Maydianne Andrade, for her first lab job. “Maydianne hiring me was a huge stepping stone. When I apply to any other labs they saw that I have experience already and it made me more desirable,” says Rajmohan, thankful for her opportunities. 

Rajmohan was co-president of MedLife UTSC, which provides medicine, education and development for underdeveloped countries, and worked for the on campus emergency team where she would sign-up for extra night shifts. She was also a member of Let’s Talk Science and Aspire to Inspire.

Rajmohan admits that her fifth year was tough as she took on so many responsibilities, but she’s glad she did. “Some days I would go to campus at 9 a.m. and stay until 3 or 4 a.m., but all of these opportunities gave me the encouragement to pursue future goals,” she says.


To read about more of the class of 2017 graduates click here

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