As part of Science Culture Week, we took the opportunity to talk to people who are passionate about science at Berger. Our colleague Marc Charland, Director – Research and Development, generously offered to talk to us about his passion and his role within the organization.
Q: Where does your passion for science come from?
A: It may sound very unusual, but I started to get interested in science at about the age of 7-8. At that time, I was a big fan of Spider-Man cartoons and science was very much part of it. I dreamed of having my own lab like Peter Parker.
Q: What’s your background in science like?
A: I have a really full background I would say! I first studied for a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry at Université Laval, as well as a certificate in pedagogy. I then taught physics, chemistry and mathematics in high school and at the college level. Then, I completed my academic career with a master’s and doctoral degree in biophysics at the Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières where I studied new methods to monitor plant photosynthesis. The cherry on the sundae came from my post-doctoral internship at the Canadian Forest Service where we were working on the effects of air pollutants on trees. Popularizing science has always been important: While my daughters were still in elementary school, I even went into their classrooms to do science experiments at the request of their teachers and had the chance to train several teachers on different subjects in continuing education settings.
Q: Is there a particular book or books that stood out for you?
A: When I was young, my little brother received a question-and-answer book with science experiments as a gift. Since he was more or less interested in it, I took possession of it for my greatest pleasure! The book offered all kinds of science experiments to do at home. Among other things, I had fun growing microorganisms using slices of bread. The experiment consisted of rubbing the bread on different surfaces to observe their growth that formed there after a certain time. I must admit that my mother was not always very happy with this hobby!
The book Cosmos, which was published in 1980 by astronomer Carl Sagan, literally fascinated me. The author traces the origins of knowledge and the scientific method, mixing science with other disciplines. His ability to popularize the content is truly inspiring.
Q: As a scientist, what excites you most about your role at Berger?
A: What’s fun about my job is having the chance to work with passionate people who have different experiences and specializations from mine, whether they are scientists or not. Collaboration between teams is essential in order to design experimental projects, analyze and interpret highly specialized results and, above all, to popularize and transfer the knowledge acquired. As for the studies we carry out in the greenhouse or with external partners, the challenge remains to try to understand the multiple interactions between the biological, chemical and physical aspects of the trio environment-plant-soil. And it is often there that the biochemist and biophysicist that I am never ceases to marvel at this complexity. On a daily basis, it’s really stimulating!
We would like to thank Marc Charland for his participation and his great generosity. Happy Scientific Culture Week to all!