May 24, 2024

Humans of RHSE: Introducing Beatrice Chen

Humans of RHSE, Students
Beatrice Chen
Photo supplied.
By Sarah McMahon

Our Research and Health Science Education (RHSE) community is a diverse but close-knit group of undergraduate and graduate students, trainees, faculty and staff. In this series, we introduce you to some of our members, talk about their roles in the university and share a few fun facts about them.

Today we introduce Beatrice Chen, who is a graduate student in the Biomedical Communications (BMC) program in the Institute of Medical Science at the Temerty Faculty of Medicine.

The only one of its kind in Canada, the BMC program is a professional master's degree that teaches students to create visual narratives, medical illustrations, dynamic animations and simulations. Graduates from the BMC program play a crucial role in sharing complex scientific concepts with the world.

A self-portrait of Beatrice Chen that shows her brain as part of the illustration.
Beatrice Chen’s self-portrait, submitted for an assignment in the BMC program.

With an interdisciplinary background in nursing and animation, Beatrice brings a unique but valuable perspective to her work. Beatrice is supervised by Dr. Shelley Wall, Assistant Professor in the Institute of Medical Science and a Professor in Biology, at the University of Toronto, Mississauga, where the program's state-of-the-art facilities are primarily based.

Drawing on her unique background, Beatrice is working with the Hospital for Sick Children, to create a short animation and an app to aid pediatric heart disease patients during their transition to adult care. She was awarded the Vesalius Trust Research Grant for her outstanding work on this project.

Although Beatrice makes it look easy, she finds herself juggling academics, research, deadlines and her personal life. She candidly admits that it’s a delicate and challenging balancing act. From time to time, she finds herself immersed in one aspect of her life, to the neglect of other areas.

Luckily, she’s not alone – her classmates provide guidance, sharing their own strategies for managing the many moving parts of being a grad student. Together, they are learning to handle increasing levels of responsibility with grace. 

Beatrice Chen sitting in a chair, drinking from a mug, with a cat on her lap. Photo supplied.
Beatrice taking some time to relax and recharge.

Behind the scenes, you can find Beatrice engrossed in a variety of creative endeavours. For example, she is working with Transform HF to create a heart-health animation specifically designed for the Weeneebayko Area Health Authority (WAHA) in James Bay.

She showcases some of her talented animations and illustrations online, where she also lists some of the shows she’s worked on, including The Ghost and Molly McGee and The Wonderful World of Mickey Mouse. When she’s not animating, she’s analyzing – unraveling character psychology, dissecting double meanings in dialogue, and uncovering symbolism in movies.

Despite her aptitude, Beatrice humbly relates to the fictional character, Oikawa Tooru, from the Japanese anime, Haikyuu. Oikawa recognizes it is only with time, effort, and perseverance that he will achieve his goals. Likewise, Beatrice persists in the face of challenges, never allowing a roadblock to thwart her ambitions. “I would not be here today, if I had given up,” she reflects earnestly.

The next time you crack open a textbook or watch an educational animation, know that behind the brush strokes and pixels, lies a talented scientist and artist, like Beatrice, eager to share her enthusiasm for health sciences with the rest of the world.

Beatrice Chen; Graduate Student; Favourite Animal: Birds; Favourite Colour: It changes all the time. Currently it’s teal; If I was a superhero, my power would be world peace. Paint brush, pencil, bird and easel in the background.