The late Sister Mary Lua Gavin founded MSVU’s Biology Department in 1950, becoming the only woman chair of a biology department in Canada at the time. She used to recall many meetings beginning with “Gentlemen…and Sister Lua.”

A respected marine biologist whose research took her all over the world, she was known to lead classes to the woods on the Mount campus or the shores of the Bedford Basin to explore the flora and fauna. She retired as Chair of the MSVU Biology Department in 1979, and in 1982 moved to Quebec to be a coordinator at an assisted living facility.

The Sister Lua Gavin Endowed Scholarship, which was established in 1981 thanks to support from alumni/Sister Lua’s former students, is awarded annually upon the recommendation of the MSVU Biology Department to a biology major entering their second year who has a high academic average and has demonstrated vision, curiosity, original thinking, and active extracurricular involvement.

Sister Lua was a Sister of Charity (Halifax) for 74 years and was missioned in New York, Nova Scotia, Quebec, and Massachusetts. She passed away in 2006.


MSVU’s history is rich with the stories of countless people who’ve had an impact on the university and in the broader community. Over the course of 2023, we’ll feature mini stories about 150 MSVU students, faculty, staff and alum. Check back often to meet more amazing MSVU people!