Promotions 2021: Q&A with Sonya MacParland

Sonya MacParland

This year, we celebrate a record 12 promotions in the Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology.

We speak to each of them to learn more about their role and what this promotion means to them.

Dr. Sonya MacParland has been promoted to Associate Professor.

What is your role in LMP?

I am a Scientist and Immunologist in the Toronto General Hospital’s Ajmera Transplant Centre and an Associate Professor in the University of Toronto’s departments of Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology and of Immunology. My research program is focused on translating fundamental knowledge about the immune biology of the liver into clinical applications. As part of the Human Cell Atlas Initiative and the Medicine by Design program, my research collaborators and I are using advanced genomics including single-cell RNA sequencing to describe the microenvironment of the healthy and diseased human liver.

Why did you pursue an academic career?

I was drawn to an academic career because it is fantastic to spend your time discovering and working with brilliant trainees.

What does this promotion mean to you?

It was really nice to go through the process and understand that scientific contributions are measured in many ways. It’s motivating to see that the work we are doing is valuable to the field and making an impact.

If you can go back, what advice would you give your younger self?

I would remind myself that senior colleagues are eager to provide advice, mentorship, and to collaborate, and that no one will say no to a quick coffee to help a junior colleague. Finding great mentors and amazing research partners has been so helpful for guiding my career.

What advice would you give faculty who would like to apply for promotion?

Attend the promotion information sessions that are held annually by LMP. Dr. Cathy Streutker and Patricia Cayetano do a fantastic job of walking you through the process. I found attending a year in advance of thinking of applying for promotion was a real help. I also can’t say enough about the time and effort that Patricia put into helping me, she really went above and beyond.

How did you manage your time in putting your dossier together considering your multiple priorities?

This was a whirlwind year with so many different challenges.

We have two wonderful and active young children that were virtual schooling for a large part of the past year. A team effort was required to manage time this year and a huge part of this was my husband who made a heroic effort to fully share child care responsibilities. This would not have been possible without the flexibility on the part of my institute and the clinical department that I am part of (UHN’s Ajmera Transplant Centre).

Find out more about promotion

Promotion guidelines: to Associate Professor and Professor

Contact Patricia Cayetano at patricia.cayetano@utoronto.ca if you are a faculty member in LMP and want to learn more about the promotion process, workshops, and more.