Jessica Nelson

Graduate Student, MSc
SSC 2473
Jacobs Lab


In 2010, I came to Guelph and started an Hon. BSc in Marine and Freshwater Biology. While taking an English course as an elective, I realized I had a passionate for English studies as well and added a Hon. BA in English to my schedule. My initial goal was to use critical thinking, analytical skills, and communication skills from my English degree and pair it with my biology expertise to communicate science to non-scientific audiences. During my undergrad, I completed a thesis study entitled, "Implications of Tagging Effects for Interpreting the Performance of Sea Lamprey Traps in a  Large River" in the McLaughlin lab, where I learned about the pros and cons associated with using different tagging methods when studying and controlling an invasive species population of ecological concern. I also completed an independent writing project discussing some of the polemic conversations that are interwoven into popular science writing and how those work to discredit the work of others and direct readers into siloed points of view.


Before I graduated from Guelph in 2017, I worked for 3 years as an undergraduate research assistant on the Ideas-Congress (ICON) project with Dr. Shoshanah Jacobs and Dr. Daniel Gillis at the helm. This project sparked my interest in another field of research, the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL), where researchers from diverse disciplinary backgrounds ask questions related to the hows and whys of teaching/learning in higher education.


In the winter of 2020, I returned to Guelph to start my MSc in the Jacobs lab, where I am studying the pathways students take when pursing that prestigious PhD. I am interested in determining what influences are causing students to choose various paths. Are there certain socioeconomic variables, institutional agendas, advisor mentoring, or field-specific needs pushing students to choose one path over another? And, how do these pathway choices impact educational experiences (e.g. mental health, time to completion) and early career outcomes (e.g. network size, number of publications, job satisfaction). The application of this research is extremely relevant as more students opt to pursue graduate studies and enter a highly competitive labour market. Finally, what disciplines (STEM vs non-STEM + within STEM fields) does pathway choice affect the most? How can we ensure these graduates find meaningful careers that utilize their skillsets?




MSc - University of Guelph - started Jan 2020

BSc (Hon.) - University of Guelph 2017

BA (Hon.) - University of Guelph 2017



D. Gillis, J. Nelson, B. Driscoll, K. Hodgins, E. Fraser and S. Jacobs. (2017). Interdisciplinary and Transdisciplinary Research and Education in Canada: A Review and Suggested Framework. Collected Essays on Learning and Teaching, Vol. X, 203-222. DOI: 10.22329/celt.v10i0.4745



Twitter: @NelsonJesi