Kenneth Tupper

BC Centre on Substance Use
Director of Implementation & Partnerships
Vancouver, Canada
Public policy implications of the globalization of ayahuasca, including issues relating to religious freedom, public health, and philosophy of education
Dr. Daniel Vokey, Dr. Dennis McKenna, Dr. Tirso Gonzales

What are your main responsibilities or activities in your current position?

Improving the BC addiction treatment system through improvements to clinical care guidance, health professional education, and scientific research.

How does your current work relate to your graduate degree?

My doctoral studies involved interdisciplinary approaches to public policy analysis, which helps in taking a multi-faceted approach to understanding the complexities of psychoactive substance use and health system responses to it. I also had the opportunity to develop and hone critical analytical skills, which I am now happily able to apply in the area of drug policy.

What do you like and what do you find challenging about your current position?

I like the opportunity I have to contribute to improving the health and well-being of British Columbians, and to work with an excellent high-perfoming team of colleagues at Providence Health Care and the University of British Columbia. I am especially excited to help implement a program of research to investigate the therapeutic potential of psychedelic drugs (psilocybin, LSD, MDMA, ayahuasca) in treating some mental illnesses and addictions.

Is your current career path as you originally intended?

No, I had no idea I would end up doing what I do now.

What motivated you to pursue graduate work at UBC?

I wanted to study at a respected Canadian university, and I love Vancouver.

What did you enjoy the most about your time as a graduate student at UBC?

I had the good fortune to be a resident at Green College for a year and a half, which was a fantastic experience. I also loved the UBC libraries!

What key things did you do, or what attitudes or approaches did you have, that contributed to your success?

I did not listen to people who advised that I study something "safe" but rather took on an unorthodox topic (psychedelic studies) that I was curious about, and am glad I did so!

What is your best piece of advice for current graduate students preparing for their future careers?

In the words of Joseph Campbell: "Follow your bliss" (i.e., find and pursue something you're passionate about).

Did you have any breaks in your education?

Yes, I took breaks at every step in my post-secondary education. I strongly recommend getting life and work experience in addition to academic degrees.


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