What are your main responsibilities or activities in your current position?
As the scale-up project leader, I am responsible for developing a CO2-based redox flow battery cell stack assembly. To this end, I engage in daily activities such as theoretical experiment design, wet-lab experimentation, and data analysis. Moreover, I sometimes work on additional tasks, such as computer-aided simulation of the electrochemical cell, and grant writing.
How does your current work relate to your graduate degree?
During my graduate studies at UBC, I had the chance to work on a novel flow-through electrochemical cell, which produced hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) out of water and oxygen in the air. Interestingly, my current activities at the company are very similar to what I learned at UBC, as I am working with a similar flow-through electrochemical cell. So, obtaining a graduate degree from UBC has equipped me with the fundamental keys to succeeding in my career.
What do you like and what do you find challenging about your current position?
Working in a startup has its own unique advantages and disadvantages. Personally, I like the fast speed of growth that I see in startups, compared with more established companies. In addition, generally, you have a more degree of freedom to have your own contributions to the ongoing projects in a startup, as opposed to those of established companies. This freedom can sometimes make you overwhelmed, though.
Is your current career path as you originally intended?
Yes. Since childhood, I was always interested in business and entrepreneurship, and I feel that the agile environment in a startup, such as the company I am currently working in, is a fantastic learning opportunity for me. Given this, during my first few months of starting my graduate degree at UBC, I decided to join a startup after graduation, and I'm happy that I was able to fulfill that goal of mine.
What motivated you to pursue graduate work at UBC?
I heard of UBC for the first time when I was a third-year student during my undergraduate degree. Based on the explanation of a friend and my own research, I found that UBC provides a high-quality environment to conduct cutting-edge research in my fields of interest. Besides, the fact that it is located in Vancouver, one of the best cities in the world, persuaded me to pursue my graduate studies at UBC.
What did you enjoy the most about your time as a graduate student at UBC?
On the social side: attending student events by various clubs and hanging out with friends I made while being at UBC. On the academic side: being able to have access to world-class equipment to conduct my research without any pause.
How did the graduate degree at UBC help you achieve your career and/or personal development goals?
The scientific materials I learned while I was studying at UBC are very close to my work. At the same time, I had the chance to attend some professional development events and workshops while studying for my graduate degree at UBC, which had a profound effect on me and taught me invaluable topics that I use every day. Therefore, UBC was a fantastic learning institute for me, both academically and personally.
What key things did you do, or what attitudes or approaches did you have, that contributed to your success?
I always try to be a hardworking person and dedicate myself to every task that is assigned to me. This dedication helps me fully focus on the task and use all my mental and physical power to finish the task with the highest standards possible. Besides working hard and dedication, I care a lot about integrity and trustworthiness, and I always implement this as my first rule in everything I do. In addition, I always attempt to keep myself up to date, by studying state-of-the-art science and technology.
What is your best piece of advice for current graduate students preparing for their future careers?
First and foremost, take care of your mental health. I was reading an article once that mentioned almost 50% of graduate students (in their study) were suffering from anxiety and/or depression. This is quite common and could impede your creativity. Next, try to go above and beyond your studies and learn about different topics that could be somewhat different from what you already know, as these topics could help you in your future careers. Also, try to collaborate with different people at UBC or elsewhere, as having a larger network will aid you to land your dream job easier.