St. George’s University professor, Dr. Cristofre Martin, is often one of the first faculty members that new undergraduate general biology students and new MD students get to know.
Because many general biology students go on to be admitted to the School of Medicine—in his dual roles as chair of the Department of Biology, Ecology and Conservation in the School of Arts and Sciences and as a professor of biochemistry in the School of Medicine—Dr. Martin is a constant for them as they take the next step in their professional journeys.
“By being involved in both schools I am able to mentor undergraduate students who aspire to become doctors by guiding them in their program and defining the requirements and expectations they need to meet to be admitted into the medical program,” said Dr. Martin.
Dr. Martin believes that when students recognize him from their undergraduate studies during their first week of med school, it’s an equally proud moment for both professor and student.
“It’s kind of a ‘See Dr. Martin! I made it!’ moment for them,” he shared. “And for me, it’s a wonderful experience seeing students who start out in SAS still fresh from their high school studies, maturing as undergraduate students, then beginning their training as MDs, and often later receiving messages from them when they become practicing physicians.”
A Proud Moment
Dr. Martin began his academic training in zoology at the University of Manitoba in Canada. His interests evolved as the new field of molecular biology emerged, and, as he stated, he “saw the future.” The rest of his training and early career research was then dedicated to molecular medicine, genetics, and developmental biology. This combination of training led him to SGU in 2005 and eventually to his dual role at the University.
Recently, Dr. Martin played a pivotal role in the accreditation for SGU’s BSc (Honors) in Marine, Wildlife and Conservation Biology by the Royal Society of Biology.
It wasn’t a simple, or short, process to receive the accreditation. According to Dr. Martin, it took two years of faculty working tirelessly to develop the evidence for the program. Most of the work took place during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, with the department not only working toward success in the effort to receive accreditation, but also adjusting to the transition to online teaching. But the hard work was well worth it.
“It was an incredible team-building experience and it helped faculty see the important contributions that each of them makes for our students,” Dr. Martin said. “It brought us all together with a single goal. All these challenges did not distract faculty from our accreditation mission, and I am so proud of them for their commitment to our students.”
When the department finally received word of its success, it triggered an incredible burst of energy throughout all those who worked hard to achieve the result.
“This accreditation established our department as a Center of Excellence in the field of conservation biology,” said Dr. Martin. “Equally rewarding was calling a meeting with our Marine, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology students to inform them their degree is now accredited. Our students can now be confident that the training they are getting is of the highest standard and will help them reach their career goals.”
The department, of course, isn’t stopping there. They hope this accreditation will bring more students to the program, including international students seeking a degree in the fields of marine and conservation biology. Dr. Martin also said the department’s next big project is working to develop a MSc in Marine, Wildlife and Conservation Biology that will allow students to continue their education.
“It will give students the opportunity to utilize the skills they learned in their undergraduate training to conduct meaningful scientific research that aims to address questions that are so important for small island development nations such as climate change, natural resource management, and environmental conservation,” added Dr. Martin.
A Found Passion
While this administrative process led to immense pride for Dr. Martin, his true passion is teaching.
“I get excited about teaching in my field and try to transmit that enthusiasm to my students. I do this by expressing my passion in the classroom and holding the student’s attention by being fun in class, and sometimes a bit crazy,” he said.
This passion may come from witnessing what Dr. Martin described as the “transformative power of St. George’s University,” which lives within the students he teaches.
“For many of our undergraduate students, they are the first generation of their family to receive a university education,” said Dr. Martin. “Over the 16 years I have been at SGU, I have witnessed how this has transformed the landscape in Grenada. Our graduates are now working in government ministries, regional NGOs, tourism industries, education, and various research groups. These graduates of SGU will be forming the decisions on the future of the region and especially Grenada.”
— Sarah Stoss