Ainsley Rooney | Graduate & Postdoctoral Studies

Ainsley Rooney

Master of Biomedical Sciences students working in the lab

Advice to prospective grad students

My advice to prospective graduate students is to stay curious and open to new opportunities. Grad school is a journey of discovery, and being open-minded can lead to unexpected and rewarding experiences. Through working in a laboratory setting, you learn a plethora of new skills and techniques that not only could be useful in future careers but enhance your knowledge in the field. 
It's also essential to build relationships with peers, professors, and mentors. These connections can offer invaluable support, guidance, and opportunities for collaboration. Surround yourself with people who inspire you and challenge you to grow.
Lastly, remember that graduate school can be demanding, so take care of your mental and physical well-being. Balance is key to sustaining your energy and focus throughout your program. Stay motivated and persistent, and don't lose sight of your long-term goals.


Master of Biomedical Science (MBS)

Why did you choose to complete your graduate studies in your program at the University of Guelph? 

I chose to pursue graduate studies in reproductive biotechnology at the University of Guelph due to my keen interest in the subject, sparked by courses in this field during my undergraduate studies. These courses ignited a passion for reproductive health and the intricate processes of early life stages. In addition, the professors leading research in this field enhanced the program's appeal not only through their innovative work, but also by fostering a supportive and collaborative environment. Finally, this program offers a strong foundation in reproductive technology, providing me with the skills and knowledge necessary for a successful career in this field.

Tell us about the path you took to get to the MBS program.

My family and friends have played a pivotal role in my journey to where I am today. During my undergraduate studies, my peers in the Biomedical program pushed me to deepen my understanding of our courses, while my family encouraged me to explore my interests and pursue them further. Additionally, the teaching assistants and professors I encountered provided invaluable guidance and insights into the field of reproductive biology, which fueled my passion and led me to this point.
Now, as I pursue my master's degree, the PhD students in my lab continue to support and mentor me in my research endeavors. My progress has been driven by curiosity and ambition, and forging connections with professors and TAs during my undergrad was essential to my current success.

What are you learning?

What excites me most about my research is the potential impact it can have on addressing fertility issues that are rapidly growing worldwide. I am looking at how the presence of heat stress impacts protein expression in spermatogonial stem cells and early embryos. This topic not only intellectually stimulating, but it also offers real-world applications that could benefit many individuals and families. A standout moment in my research was when I saw my first set of results. That initial data was a turning point, confirming that my work was moving in the right direction and providing a tangible sense of progress.
My journey into the field of reproductive biotechnology was somewhat coincidental. It began with an embryology course during my undergraduate studies that introduced me to fetal development and the early origins of life. This course sparked my curiosity about reproductive biotechnology and the intricate processes involved.
Recognizing the pressing infertility challenges faced globally, I decided to further my studies in the field. To prepare for my current research, I pursued molecular courses focusing on reproduction, which equipped me with the foundational knowledge necessary for my master's program in biomedical science, with a focus on reproductive biotechnology.
The steps that led me to where I am now include a combination of academic coursework, hands-on research experience, and mentorship from professors and researchers in the field. My continuous pursuit of knowledge and commitment to this important area of study have guided me along this path.

How do you think the work you are doing at U of G can potentially improve life?

By advancing our understanding of male fertility issues and embryonic health, this work can lead to new treatments and interventions for infertility and enhance the success of assisted reproductive technologies. Additionally, the findings may provide insights for managing reproductive efficiency in livestock and mitigating the effects of climate change on reproductive health.

What's it like to work with an academic advisor?

My relationship with my advisor has been consistently positive from the outset. He has provided me with a conducive environment that allows me to work independently while also engaging in collaborative efforts to advance my research and develop new skills. He is always available to answer my questions and has equipped me with an abundance of resources to achieve my goals.

What do you plan to do after graduation? How has U of G helped you reach that goal?

After graduation, I plan to work as an embryologist in a human fertility clinic. My master's degree in reproductive biotechnology from the University of Guelph has been instrumental in helping me reach this goal. The program has provided me with essential lab skills and intricate training in the in vitro fertilization process. Additionally, opportunities to visit multiple fertility clinics across Ontario have allowed me to establish valuable relationships and gain firsthand experience with the workflow of a clinic.

What it is like to be a graduate student at Guelph?

Being a graduate student at the University of Guelph is a rewarding and enriching experience. The university fosters a collaborative and inclusive environment that encourages exploration and discovery. The friendly and welcoming atmosphere extends from the laboratory setting to all the buildings on campus. In addition, being a graduate student at the University provides access to new and fascinating technologies and resources to pursue your research interests. Finally, Guelph hosts many events that guide you along your academic and professional journeys. These events provide you the opportunity to meet people from many different professions and build connections for when you are done at the university. Overall, being a graduate student at the University of Guelph is rewarding and challenging. It provides you with opportunities to become a better researcher and make a difference, while being supported and participating in engaging events. 

Beyond being a grad student, I am deeply passionate about sports and the outdoors. I've been a dedicated member of the University softball team for the past five years and have been the captain for three of those. I also love spending time with my family at our family farm or cottage, where we have campfires and go for hikes. My family has a deep connection to Guelph as both my parents attended and met at the University of Guelph, and now both I and my sister attend. 

What do you like best about U of G campus and the city of Guelph? 

The University of Guelph is a close-knit community with a charming and inviting campus. The buildings and small campus provide a cozy atmosphere, offering a sense of comfort and belonging. The abundance of green spaces is one of my favourite parts as a student. It allows us to spend time outdoors, between classes and breaks from the lab. Additionally, the diverse and delicious food options all over campus make the campus feel home-like and comforting. Finally, the warm and friendly nature of the people here further enhances the overall experience and makes everyday enjoyable. 

I like the City of Guelph because it has a small-town feel, with a diverse number of things to do. The downtown area has small shops that support the local community, and many different places you can study or gather with your friends off campus. There are also a lot of greenspaces and trails that allow you to get outside and be active. There is always something to do in Guelph individually or with your friends.