MSc. from the University of Toronto specializing in Cannabis sativa genetics. Budding Science Communicator.

Hayley McKay recently graduated with a Master of Science (MSc.) from the department of Cell & Systems Biology at the University of Toronto in 2021. She conducted research, wrote, and defended her dissertation on the genetic pathways underlying male and female flower development in Cannabis sativa.

In addition to studying molecular genetics, Hayley writes about science in an effort to connect and engage more people in STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math). She believes science communication (scicomm) is crucial for mitigating misinformation about important topics like health and environmental issues in today’s society.

She also believes in the value of art and thinks art can play an important role in engaging the general public with science. Her stories aim to incorporate artistic, historical and cultural perspectives into discussions about science.

When she isn’t in the lab or writing stories, Hayley likes to dance, ski and hike on the Bruce Trail.

Other Projects

STEM Up: The Science Magazine for Kids!

As a founding member of The University of Toronto’s Science Communication Club, Hayley has contributed to multiple student-led science outreach initiatives, including STEM Up, a science magazine for kids from ages 6-12. In collaboration with illustrators and graphic designers, Hayley writes short, fun articles about exciting topics in science to produce colourful and engaging activity booklets.

STEM Up is part of the Stem Kids Initiative (SKI) community outreach project, with the goal of offering free educational resources to foster curiosity and interest in STEM topics at a young age.

So far, STEM Up has published the Halloween-themed Mighty Musculoskeletal System issue and the Holiday-themed Immune System issue, with more on the way!

The CSB Forefront: Graduate Student Newsletter

The CSB Forefront is an annual digital magazine founded and crafted by graduate students in the Cell & Systems Biology Department at the University of Toronto. 

Founded in 2019, The CSB Forefront aims to showcase the accomplishments of CSB graduate students, their scientific and artistic talents, and their journeys through Master’s and PhD programs. The newsletter is a safe and inclusive platform for all graduate students to share their ideas, experiences, talents, and love for science while practicing informal writing about and around scientific research. 

In the 2020 installment of The CSB Forefront, Hayley contributed to three articles showcasing a new Faculty member, a discussion about scicomm and a crowd-sourced collection of CSB’s COVID lockdown pastimes. In 2021, Hayley is taking on a Co-Editor role as well as contributing a written piece on Cannabis science, history and culture.

Cover illustration by Amy Zhang

Cover illustration by Shanling Lei
Cover illustration by Ian Hsu