Interview with Dr. Ross MacGillivray, CBR Founding Director

Sara SaberiBy Dr. Sara Saberi, member of Côté Lab, CBR

Recently, Dr. Ross MacGillivray, Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and one of the founding members of the CBR, retired after almost 37 years of work and dedication. Dr. MacGillivray served as the first Director of the CBR. His research focused on human blood proteins involved in coagulation and iron homeostasis. We interviewed him about his experience during all these years and asked him about his retirement plans.

Q. How did you become a Professor at UBC?
A. At that time, I applied for faculty positions at four different universities. Actually, UBC was the only one that I got an interview for, and I got an offer. I remember that I accepted the UBC offer at Christmas time, around 36-37 years ago.

Ross & Sue

Ross with his wife, Sue

Q. How would you describe your years of work and life at UBC?
A. I have had a wonderful career and life here at UBC and in Vancouver in general. I enjoyed teaching a lot and believe that teaching keeps you young. I have always believed in young scientists and the importance of fresh blood in academia.

Q. What is your key to success in work?
A. My success is due to trying to work with people with minimum conflict. The key to this is communication. I have always supervised people in a way that I would have liked to be supervised. I believe that there is enough space in science for everyone to be successful, and there is no need to compete and put people against each other. I also always felt blessed to have been able to work with my lab managers, Valerie Smith and Jeff Hewitt, for 20 years.

Q. What are your plans for your retirement?
A. I will stay as Chair of the Biosafety Committee and keep my office for a while; plus I will keep reading the Nature magazine. I love golf and traveling to new places like Australia and Africa, as well as places we have been in the past and would love to get back to again, like Italy. I also have a totem pole in the garden that needs to be finished. And of course, my major hobby is soccer, which I always watch and cheer for the Whitecaps. I also would like to be a pilot, but these days everything is done by auto-pilot. Not much is done manually, by the pilot himself, unless there’s an emergency, which takes the fun out of it.

Ross MacGillivray & Earl Davie

Ross with Earl Davie

Q. What has been the best part of your life?
A. Family always comes first, and, as part of that, having kids was the best experience. I had my kids when I was 39 years old, and this allowed me to spend a lot of time with them.

Q. What is a favourite memory you could share with us from all these years at work?
A. Friday’s TGIF events were the best! Drinking beer and wine while interacting with people from different departments on a regular basis was the best part.

We would like to thank Dr. Ross MacGillivray for the time he dedicated to this interview and the many years he has devoted to the CBR. We wish him a joyful and relaxing time in retirement!

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