The First Lecture

The First Lecture. Banner. A classroom filled with students who are listening to a lecture.

The First Lecture

Learn more about some of the fascinating contributions that individuals within the UTM community are making to society. Please read below to learn more about some of our previous presenters!

Dr. Patrick Gunning            

Patrick Gunning       


Professor Patrick T. Gunning was born in Glasgow, Scotland and obtained a Ph.D. in organic chemistry from the University of Glasgow and was a Postdoctoral Research Associate with Professor Andrew D. Hamilton at Yale University. Dr. Gunning was featured in the Toronto Star’s 2013 Top 10 to Watch. In 2013, Dr. Gunning was named a Canada Research Chair in Medicinal Chemistry and was the recipient of the 2013 University of Toronto Inventor of the Year Award. In 2014, Patrick was the recipient of the NSERC Accelerator Award. In 2015, he was the Rose-Winer Levin Lecturer at the Dana-Farber Medical School at Harvard University. In 2017, Patrick was awarded the Royal Bank of Canada RBC Prize for Innovation & Entrepreneurship and named in Canada’s Top 40 under 40 awardees. Learn more about Patrick here

A Beginner's Guide to Killing Cancer Cells

In this lecture, Prof Gunning will describe the seemingly insurmountable challenges that a medicinal chemist and drug discovery team face in their efforts to identify new drug molecules. Complexities of creating molecules that bind selectively to a target protein in the cellular milieu, the challenges of crossing the cell membrane, and navigating the many obstacles presented by the human body; Prof Gunning shows how, despite the odds, with intelligent design, hard work and no shortage of good luck, drug-like molecules can be developed.

Samra Zafar

Samra Zafar


Samra Zafar is an International Speaker, Human Rights Activist, Scholar, Author and Social Entrepreneur for her organization, Brave Beginnings. She is one of 8 highly distinguished alumni to serve as a Governor for the University of Toronto, and the youngest person to receive that honour. Learn more about Samra here.

Carve Your Own Legacy

Our experiences in life shape us into who we become - but they also present an opportunity for us to leave an impact in lives around us. We can practice this way of thinking in our day to day lives by reaching out, offering connection and giving back. Even small actions on our part can make a life changing impact on others. That's our legacy. By being authentic and empathetic, we not only empower others, we also open a world of opportunities for ourselves to become better leaders and changemakers

Principal Ulrich Krull

Ulli Krull


Dr. Ulrich Krull completed his BSc, MSc and PhD (1983) degrees at the University of Toronto. He holds the endowed AstraZeneca Chair in Biotechnology. Work by his research team has been fundamental in the launch of 4 start-up companies. Krull is recognized as one of the leading analytical chemists in Canada. He has over 200 refereed publications, has co-authored more than 60 book chapters, has co-edited 4 books and is an inventor listed on over a dozen patents. He is a Fellow of the Chemical Institute of Canada. He has received both the McBryde Medal, and the Maxxam Award of the Canadian Society for Chemistry (the top awards for analytical chemistry research in Canada). Learn more about Ulli here.

Does Size Matter?

Why is the sky blue, why are clouds white, what limits the size of components in electronic circuits, how does fluid flow in a blood vessel, and what is a quantum dot television? These topics are related by the fact that the size scale of materials alters which physical properties dominate behaviour. We are beginning to learn how to control the size of materials to access properties that are not evident in our everyday experience, and will revolutionize medicine, environment, energy, and agriculture, ultimately impacting quality of life and global sustainability.

Dr. Cheryl Thompson

Cheryl Thompson


Dr. Cheryl Thompson is a 2016-2018 Banting Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Toronto and the University of Toronto Mississauga in the Department of English and Drama. She is also an instructor in the Department of Visual Studies where she will teach North American Consumer Culture, 1890 to Present and Topics in Visual Culture: Celebrity and Promotional Culture this fall. She received her PhD in Communication Studies from McGill University. Dr. Thompson is currently completing her first book, Beauty in a Box: Detangling the Roots of Canada's Black Beauty Culture. When not working, she enjoys photography and vinyl collecting. Learn more about Cheryl here.

Critical Thinking and Finding Your Path

Students often grabble with two questions after their first semester or first year of university:

1) What is critical thinking, and why am I asked to do more of it?

2) What should I do if I am not happy in my chosen course of study, and if I change my major, how will I know if I have made the right decision? Using examples from my own undergraduate experience as well as lessons I have learned in the classroom, my talk aims to give students some strategies on how to find their path in university when faced with one or both these questions.