Where and what is your current position?
I am a researcher and professor at the University of Toronto. I hold a Canada Research Chair (Tier II) in physical activity and mental health to conduct research related to understanding physical activity, motivation, and mental health (including body image, physical self-perceptions, anxiety, depression, and stress). My research focuses primarily on females across the lifespan and clinical populations that are the least active segments of the Canadian population.
How does this job relate to your graduate degree?
I have continued the area of study I began in my PhD, and developed/advanced the theories and methodologies that I learned during my graduate degree. I gained tremendous critical thinking skills that have been foundational to my career. I also gained teamwork skills that have benefited me in supervision of graduate students.
What motivated you to pursue graduate work at UBC?
Peter Crocker is a well-known mentor and researcher in the field of sport and exercise psychology, and I wanted to work with him in the area of youth, physical activity, and physical self.
What did you enjoy the most about your time as a graduate student at UBC?
I enjoyed all aspects of my graduate degree – the mentoring, options for teaching, autonomous environment, teamwork capabilities with fellow students, possibilities for research, etc.
What are key things you did that contributed to your success?
I was competitive but grounded, ambitious in seeking support, and looked for all ideas and took all options for collaborations.
What is your best piece of advice for current graduate students preparing for their future careers?
Be creative; embrace autonomy; accept any opportunities that are presented to get involved in research of all methodologies, theories, and practices; expand skills for teaching and research; work with your fellow graduate students to develop new ideas and collaborative studies.
Did you have any breaks in your education?
No breaks (other than a few trips!).
What challenges did you face in your graduate degree, or in launching your career?
Working with my supervisor was challenging at times, but I always discussed my concerns directly with him and cleared the issues. I also felt very competitive with my peers, but worked on it through collaborative rather than competitive research projects.
Academic positions are tough to get – I have been fortunate to get the two jobs I have applied for, but it is always a challenge to stay current, creative, and ambitious and to accept that the academic position also has so many demands that have to be balanced.
How are jobs normally posted and filled in your organization or industry?
Websited, e-mail, and list serves.
What do you like and what do you find challenging about your current position?
The constant challenge, and the diverse, autonomous workplace that enables critical thinking, creative development of research projects, and mentoring students while also teaching students at all levels.