What are your main responsibilities or activities in your current position?
I am a Research Scientist and Epidemiologist at the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS. My research largely focuses on understanding the intersections between illicit drug use, infectious diseases, and the delivery and efficacy of healthcare systems. My work involves overseeing research studies, writing grants and manuscripts, and I also spend a proportion of my time supervising graduate and undergraduate students.
How does your current work relate to your graduate degree?
My current work is an extension of my PhD degree, which focused on understanding the healthcare experiences of people who use illicit drugs in hospital settings. I was very fortunate to have great mentors who have helped to shape my career to date. Key to my career success was having the opportunity to integrate myself within a productive research environment during my doctoral studies, which really pushed me to become the researcher I am today.
What motivated you to pursue graduate work at UBC?
The opportunity to work with my PhD supervisors, who are both UBC professors in the Faculty of Medicine, was the key motivation for pursuing graduate studies at UBC. I'm not sure whether I would have considered a PhD if I wasn't able to train under their leadership. It also didn't hurt that Vancouver is one of the most beautiful places to live in the world!
What key things did you do, or what attitudes or approaches did you have, that contributed to your success?
Passion and perseverance. It is inevitable that throughout your career, many obstacles will arise. The passion you have for your work, combined with the determination and drive to see it through will likely overcome many of the challenges you face. Also, be adventurous! There are many times in my life where my curiosity has led me to so many great ideas and has taken me to places that I would never have thought to go.
What is your best piece of advice for current graduate students preparing for their future careers?
Something I prioritized throughout my studies and continue to do in my career is to have a balanced lifestyle. It's so easy to devote all of your time to your career, and while it is not necessarily a bad thing to focus on your work for a period of time, it is important to keep in mind that there are other life opportunities to explore.
Did you have any breaks in your education?
I only had a one-year break in between my bachelors and masters degrees where I worked in an immunology lab. This was one of the biggest turning points in my career – when I realized that I wanted to switch fields to epidemiology and public health. I have never looked back since.