Where and what is your current position?
I spend 75% of my time directing the Cardiopulmonary Exercise Physiology Laboratory at the UBC Centre for Heart Lung Innovation at St. Paul's Hospital. The rest of my time is spent teaching within the Masters of Physical Therapy program at UBC and sitting on various committees.
Is your current career path as you originally intended?
I planned to become a professor after a research experience I had during the third year of my undergraduate degree, so the job I have now is exactly what I worked towards during my graduate training at UBC.
How does this job relate to your graduate degree?
My graduate training was specifically designed to prepare me for a faculty position at a research-intensive university. I learned all of the steps involved in the research process including, but not limited to, formulating a research question and hypothesis, writing a research proposal, securing funding, collecting and analyzing data, and disseminating the results through presentations and peer-reviewed publications. I also gained valuable skills to become an effective teacher and mentor.
What motivated you to pursue graduate work at UBC?
I had an incredible undergraduate research supervisor (Dr. Bill Sheel) at UBC. He motivated and inspired me to pursue a career in academia.
What did you enjoy the most about your time as a graduate student at UBC?
I really enjoyed building relationships with other graduate students and faculty members. Finding a good graduate supervisor is critical to having a positive and successful experience in graduate school. Students interested in pursuing a graduate education with a specific supervisor should always contact the supervisor's current and/or past trainees to find out what it is like working with him/her.
What are key things you did that contributed to your success?
Many students will focus exclusively on their degree specific requirements (i.e. completing their course work and a thesis), rather than immersing themselves in the numerous additional opportunities that exist in graduate school. I participated as a collaborator on several projects with other graduate students, and I led multiple studies that were independent from my thesis research. None of these studies were required for my degree, but they had a big impact on my overall productivity. This made me more competitive when I started looking for postdoctoral fellowships and faculty positions. So I always encourage graduate students to get involved in other projects and to take advantage of opportunities to enhance their teaching and leadership skills, so they will be better positioned to secure a job after their degree.
What is your best piece of advice for current graduate students preparing for their future careers?
Have clearly defined goals and a plan to achieve those goals. The sooner you know what you want to do with your degree the more likely you are to succeed.
Did you have any breaks in your education?
I did not take any breaks during my education. This helped me maintain strong momentum going into my postdoctoral fellowship and current faculty position. Taking regular breaks throughout the year was enough to prevent me from burning out.
How did you find out about/obtain your current position?
I applied for my position after seeing an advertisement on the internet.
What do you like and what do you find challenging about your current position?
I love the challenge of establishing an independent research program. You need to be highly motivated to quickly establish a fully operational laboratory with funding to purchase equipment and to secure a team of staff and trainees to conduct the research. Creating a research program and having the freedom to pursue your own research questions can be incredibly rewarding.