Mayi Arcellana-Panlilio, PhD

Dr. Mayi Arcellana-Panlilio, PhD

Pronouns: she, her


Teaching professor

Cumming School of Medicine, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Lead Faculty Advisor

University of Calgary iGEM Team


Teaching Academy/Taylor Institute of Teaching & Learning


Arnie Charbonneau Cancer Institute

Child Health & Wellness Researcher

Alberta Children's Hospital Research Institute


Cumming School of Medicine, Office of Health and Medical Education Scholarship

Contact information

Web presence

Phone number

Office: 403.220.4385


Office: HRIC2A20

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Educational Background

Doctor of Philosophy Biochemistry & Molecular Biology, University of Calgary, 1993

M.S. Cornell University, 1983

B.S. magna cum laude University of the Philippines, 1977


Dr. Arcellana-Panlilio is a Teaching Professor in the Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology (BMB) in the Cumming School of Medicine. Her primary educational responsibility is to coordinate and deliver the MDSC 351 (Honours Cell & Molecular Biology) course, which has become one of the premier required courses in the flagship Bachelor of Health Sciences (BHSc) curriculum. Dr. Arcellana-Panlilio is responsible for leading the University of Calgary’s iGEM (international Genetically Engineered Machines) team, an interdisciplinary group of undergraduate students who develop a synthetic biology project from concept to execution and then present it at an international competition in Boston each fall. Dr. Arcellana-Panlilio also contributes to several other courses, notably co-teaching MDSC 408 (Research design in molecular biology & bioinformatics) and coordinating the BMB section of MDSC 417-419 (Integrated research I & II). 

As lead faculty advisor for the University of Calgary iGEM team, Dr. Arcellana-Panlilio has supervised undergraduate students from science, medicine, and engineering on synthetic biology projects that seek to address real world problems by engineering bacteria to perform new functions. These projects have included the development of a transdermal patch to deliver peptide to protect against ionizing radiation (iGEM 2016), which the students undertook with valuable guidance from PI’s at the Robson DNA Science Centre.  She has co-supervised BHSC honours thesis (MDSC 508) students with researchers at the Charbonneau, lending her expertise in molecular biology, functional genomics, and gene expression analysis. 

Dr. Arcellana-Panlilio is involved in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SOTL), engaging in projects to investigate questions such as the benefits of peer mentorship in the classroom, reimagining the role of SOTL in higher education, and implementing active learning to teach genetic regulation.


Areas of Research

Gene Regulation
Molecular Mechanisms

I mentor undergraduate student team research in synthetic biology addressing real-world problems, such as development of a detection system for pathogenic bacterial sequences in meat undertaken by the University of Calgary 2013 iGEM (international Genetically Engineered Machines) team.

Participation in university strategic initiatives


Course number Course title Semester
MDSC 52814 LAB 01 B01 Ind Studies in Medical Science 2021
MDSC 351 LEC 01 01 Honours Cell & Molecular BIOL 2021
MDSC 351 TUT 01 T01 Honours Cell & Molecular BIOL 2021
MDSC 408 LEC 01 01 Res Des Molec BIOL & Bioinfo 2020
MDSC 408 LEC 01 01 Res Des Molec BIOL & Bioinfo 2021
MDSC 41705 LAB 01 B01 Biochem and Molecular Biol I 2020
MDSC 41705 LEC 01 01 Biochem and Molecular Biol I 2020
MDSC 41905 LAB 01 B01 Biochemand Molecular Biol II 2021
MDSC 50706 LAB 10 B10 Spec Prob in Medical Science 2020
MDSC 50760 LAB 11 B11 Spec Prob in Medical Science 2021
MDSC 50778 LAB 13 B13 Spec Prob in Medical Science 2021


Integrating Peer Mentoring into an Undergraduate Cell Biology Course

Peer mentoring can be seen as a manifestation of the construct of “students as partners” which is one of the key pillars in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL). Peer mentoring is defined as a collaborative process where a senior student, in collaboration with the instructor for the course, will be introducing interventions to improve student learning. This has been shown to have significant benefits for both professors and peer mentors, alongside the impact on mentees. Therefore, the purpose of this study is to gain a better understanding of students’ experiences in undergraduate classrooms, specifically in an Honors Cell and Molecular Biology course (MDSC 351) at the University of Calgary as a result of peer mentor led interventions. 

This project was presented at ISSOTL Connect 2021 ( and in a poster at the ISSOTL 2021 Conference.

Reimagining our relationships with SoTL: Applying the T-shaped model

Amongst a range of changes that have taken place within tertiary education, perhaps the most revolutionary has been a shift to student-centred approaches focused on life-long learning. Accompanying this approach to holistic Higher Education (HE) has been a growing interest in, and understanding of, the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL). 

The T-shaped person, and more recently the T-shaped community, is being operationalised in HE to inform and connect the development of students’ deep disciplinary knowledge with non-academic and career readiness skills (such as communication, problem-solving, teamwork and critical thinking). The T-shaped community further seeks to address questions around holistic development of our students and enabling them to flourish beyond the confines of the HE environments and discipline. Importantly, we argue for a re-positioning of SoTL to complement and support this model, with SoTL as both the fulcrum and the fluid multiple threads of discourse that are intricately entwined around the structure of the T-shaped model (Eady et al., 2021).

Here, all stakeholders within HE connect both their academic knowledge and holistic skills in collaborative ways to produce learners who flourish in modern society. The SoTL community plays a pivotal role in achieving this vision and is well-positioned to expand the current notion of SoTL towards a more holistic, interconnected, central role in HE. This study provides opportunities for participants to consider how the application of the T-shaped model could potentially influence their understanding and conceptualisation of SoTL.

Using an Active Learning Approach in a Lesson on Genetic Regulation

Undergraduate students in biological and health sciences must learn about how gene activity is regulated by elements in the cell environment. The biological components have multiple interacting elements and function in complex ways. In a classroom setting, static images or videos are typically used to convey these biological representations, however static images fail to convey dynamic interactions and videos can become difficult to follow because of the limitations of working memory. To address this, we are designing, what we call, an interactive-visual lesson with paper cut-out pieces to promote an active learning approach to teaching regulation in genetics. Furthermore, we would like to develop a lesson that can be easily adopted by other teaching professionals. To do this we plan to address the main reasons instructors do not adopt evidence-based active learning strategies in the classroom. We would like to develop a lesson that can be taught in a short timeframe so as not to take away from class time needed to cover important content. Although we would like to optimize the lesson to decrease the time needed to teach it, while will also consider and mitigating the impact this may have on student learning.


  • SU Teaching Excellence Awards Hall of Fame , Students Union, University of Calgary. 2021
  • Teaching Excellent Award, Cumming School of Medicine, Students Union, University of Calgary. 2019
  • Teaching Excellence Award, Cumming School of Medicine, Students Union, University of Calgary. 2018
  • Killam Award in Undergraduate Mentorship, University of Calgary. 2017
  • University of Calgary Teaching Award , University of Calgary. 2017
  • McLeod Distinguished Achievement Award, Cumming School of Medicine. 2017
  • Education Award, Dept. of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology. 2017
  • Bachelor of Health Sciences Teaching Award, Bachelor of Health Sciences program. 2015
  • Queen's Diamond Jubilee Medal, Governor General of Canada. 2012
  • Education Award, Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology. 2012
  • Honourable mention, Teaching Excellence Award for Faculty of Medicine, Students Union, University of Calgary. 2012
  • Teaching Excellence Award for Faculty of Medicine, Students Union, University of Calgary. 2011
  • Honourable mention, Teaching Excellence Award for Faculty of Medicine, Students Union, University of Calgary. 2010
  • Undergraduate Medical Education Award, Faculty of Medicine, University of Calgary. 2008
  • The William H. Davies Medical Research Scholarship, Faculty of Medicine, University of Calgary. 1992
  • AHFMR Graduate Studentship, Alberta Heritage Foundation for Medical Research. 1989
  • Biotechnology Training Centre Studentship, Medical Research Council of Canada. 1987
  • USAID Scholarship, United States Agency for International Development. 1980
  • Fulbright Scholar, Fulbright-Hays Mutual Exchange Grant. 1979
  • Pacific Fellowship, American Association of University Women. 1979
  • Elected to Phi Kappa Phi International Honor Society, 1977