PROFile: Alberto Civetta

Professor, Department of Biology, U of W

Alberto Civetta is a professor who’s been teaching in the Department of Biology for the past 19 years. He is a pioneer in evolutionary genetics and originally from Argentina.

“I arrived in 2000 and have been teaching courses in the areas of genetics in the biology department.”

He says he developed a passion for science during high school.

“High school is important. Some teachers are so inspiring,” he says.  “I discovered genetics in high school and was never interested in professional studies such as medicine, law school and engineering.”

He first moved to Canada to pursue a PhD from McMaster University. He then moved on to the United States as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Pennsylvania.

While deciding on his next steps in life, he saw a job opportunity at the University of Winnipeg in the biology department.

“I wanted to come back to Canada. So, I took the opportunity at the University of Winnipeg.”

Civetta has never looked back and currently teaches undergraduate, masters and PhD students at the university. Learning for him is a two-way street, and he gets amused by the questions his students ask. He says interactions with younger people are the best thing about being a professor.

Civetta is an inquisitive person and vouches for an open attitude to learn and grow. He says he continually nudges students to explore the field, different subjects and their passions.

“When you are in high school or undergraduate studies, you have the time to explore different courses. I wish I had picked courses outside of sciences as well, because later on, I realized a lot of other subjects interested me, too.”

What was your worst grade in university?

“I almost failed Intro to Physics in the first year. I got what would be (the) equivalent of D. First and second year of university can be a bit of a struggle.”

What do you like to do in your spare time?

“I coach soccer in the city. My son plays competitive soccer, and I’ve been coaching the team for some years. I also play music with a group of professors.”

What is one piece of advice you’d like to give to your students?

“Sometimes you might think you know exactly what you want to do, but always explore different things.”

What is the best part of your job?

“Connecting with younger people is the most enriching aspect of the job – and (learning) new things.”

Published in Volume 74, Number 3 of The Uniter (September 19, 2019)

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