Jefferson Frisbee - Chair and Professor, Department of Medical Biophysics, University of Western Ontario

Jefferson Frisbee

Chair and Professor, Department of Medical Biophysics, University of Western Ontario

I was born/grew up in: Chanute Air Force Base, Rantoul, Illinois. Grew Up: New York, New England, and Ontario

I now live in: London, Ontario

I completed my training/education at: BSc, PhD University of Guelph; postdoctoral fellowship University of Washington; postdoctoral fellowship and first faculty position Medical College of Wisconsin; Cardiovascular Research Center Director at West Virginia University HSC; then recruited to Western

Describe what you do at work.

We do a lot of different research using models of human disease (I need to be a bit vague for obvious reasons). My job requires I know about biology, chemistry, physics, physiology, chaos theory, biostatistics, pharmacology, etc. We use specialized surgical equipment, microscopes, equipment to measure cardiovascular function, imaging equipment (it is a very long list). I enjoy very difficult, abstract problems. Things where a lot of variables are changing in both space and time. I have to make decisions constantly. The process is simple...take what you know, what you "think" and then take your best shot. If you are wrong, try again. I work as part of a team and as an individual investigator as well. Different approaches for different problems, but clear and free communication is always vital.

When I was a student I enjoyed:

How does your job affect people’s lives?

We work to identify how we can correct the symptoms and poor health outcomes associated with cardiovascular disease risk. This impacts a large number of people and we are working to try to reduce that.

What motivates you in your career?

I love the freedom and flexibility to use my creativity and imagination to learn and understand how systems work (and fail). I hate structure and do not particularly enjoy sitting in classrooms. My career has allowed me to operate almost entirely within my own flexibility.

When I was a student, I would have described myself as someone who:

Describe your career path to this career.

Mostly, I made sure to never close doors and never made a decision I could not reverse. In my education I completed an undergraduate degree in science and two graduate degrees. This was followed by two postdoctoral fellowships, and then 20 years of "training and education". Unusual Twists and Turns: of course. All do. I NEVER thought I would be back in Canada but some opportunities just develop out of nowhere. How I ended up in this career is a bit interesting. This was my 2nd backup plan. Once pro football was out, I wanted to be a cosmologist. But couldn't handle the math. Since I have always loved biology I started down that path instead. I’ve had a number of challenges and failures along the way – we all do. But you pick yourself up and start fighting again. What other choice do you have - to accept failure???

What activities do you like to do outside of work?

I used to run the hockey program at a major American University before coming here. That was fun. I hike, golf, and travel to my kid's unending sports activities.... I like to travel with my family (National Parks). I volunteer when asked, but am looking for more opportunities. It can be hard to jam that into a day.

What advice or encouragement would you give others seeking a similar career?

Stick with it. It is a very long and hard road to get here, but it is totally worth it if you can make it through. It really is a great career if you are the right person.

CurioCity Careers

We hope you enjoyed learning about this great STEM career! The information in this career profile was provided by this individual especially for CurioCity. We hope it helped give you a sense of what this type of job is really like.

Let’s Talk Science is pleased to provide you with this information as you explore future career options. Many careers require a background in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). Even jobs that don’t use specific STEM concepts on a day-to-day basis benefit from the skills gained through a study of STEM. People with a STEM background are very much in demand by employers across all career sectors. If you would like to learn about more careers that have a STEM connection, visit

b i u quote

Save Comment