Faculty Friday Spotlight: Dr. Nathalie McDonell

Dr. McDonell has studied in England and France, conducted research in Switzerland and Japan, and taught in Belize, among her many travels during her career. She earned her PhD in Genetics at the University of Paris and her medical degree from the Medical University of the Americas, and joined the AUC faculty in 2007. Dr. McDonell teaches Molecular and Cell Biology I and II and has chaired the department since 2015

Describe an experience that helped form you as an educator.

I chose a medical school with a program for PhDs to teach their subject in exchange for completing the MD curriculum. This was my first teaching experience and although it was only for financial reasons rather than the teaching experience, I really enjoyed the teaching more than I expected. There was one professor at the medical school who taught with such passion and made you excited about learning and understanding the material. This professor was a role model for me. After completing my clinical rotations, there was almost a year to wait before beginning my internship in the UK so I applied to the AUC faculty. I chose AUC and Sint Maarten for the weather, the two countries (I’m half French and my husband is Dutch so it seemed a good fit), and because AUC is a teaching university. We never left after the first year because I enjoyed it so much.


What is your favorite thing about teaching at AUC?

The enthusiasm and eagerness of the students, helping them get the knowledge they need to be the best doctors they can be, and working together with my colleagues who are great and all want the best for the students.


What are some of your favorite things about Sint Maarten?

The people, weather, beautiful beaches, the colorfulness, the diversity.


What is an underappreciated aspect of life in Sint Maarten?

Island life. The relaxed way, everything in its own time (can get frustrating when trying to get things done, but stepping back and appreciating how everything is ok anyway is also nice to be reminded of sometimes).


How would you like for students to describe you years from now?

An enthusiastic and helpful instructor!


What makes you look forward to the start of a new semester?

The excitement of the students to learn more and get closer to their dreams.


What’s something that not many people know about you or that your students would be surprised to learn about you?

I almost joined a dance company instead of going for a PhD and travelled around Southeast Asia for a year after my PhD.


What would you be doing if you hadn’t gone into medical education?

If I’d not continued at AUC, I might have returned to the UK to train as an oncologist or moved to Italy.