Tamara Bodnar

The University of British Columbia
Postdoctoral Fellow
Vancouver, Canada
Impact of alterations in the early environment on endocrine and immune networks
Dr. Joanne Weinberg

Where and what is your current position?

In my current position as a postdoctoral fellow I am responsible for conducting research, with guidance from my supervisor. I am also responsible for mentoring undergraduate and graduate students and supervising students completing short-term research projects. Finally, I am also responsible for assisting with grant writing and presentation of research results at conferences and in publications. As a postdoctoral teaching fellow, I am responsible for delivering lectures and mentoring undergraduate students in the classroom.

Is your current career path as you originally intended?

My career path evolved as I began gaining experience in the laboratory environment. As an undergraduate, I explored a range of options but was drawn to research. From the beginning, I found designing experiments to be a surprisingly creative experience. Having the opportunity to pose specific questions that had never been asked before, and then to design experiments to explore these questions ended up being my true passion.

How does this job relate to your graduate degree?

As a graduate student, I learned how to conduct experiments and present findings to both scientific and public audiences. I also had the opportunity to teach in both the laboratory and lecture setting. These skills provided me with the foundation needed for my current position.

What motivated you to pursue graduate work at UBC?

I decided to pursue graduate studies at UBC due to the high caliber of research being conducted at this institution. UBC is a very large institution, with strong ties to other research units across BC. As a result, I found the large network of UBC affiliated scientists to be a huge advantage, particularly in research where collaborations and partnerships are extremely important.

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

In addition to research and teaching, I gained a lot from participating in student lead projects/committees. As part of the UBC Neuroscience Graduate Student Society, I met other highly motivated, driven students, and had the opportunity to participate in planning a range of events for both the community and for other neuroscience students. As part of this organization, I ran the Vancouver Brain Bee, a Neuroscience competition for high school students, for a number of years. More recently, I have been in contact with a number of previous participants who, due in part to their experiences in the Brain Bee, have gone on to graduate neuroscience and related programs, which has been really rewarding.

What are key things you did that contributed to your success?

Make connection with others in related fields and collaborate on projects whenever possible. Graduate education does not have to be an insular bubble. The best opportunities and experiences of my graduate education all came from working with others.

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

Graduate education teaches students how to learn and think critically. This skill then applies to a wide range of careers options. While the focus of your graduate education may seem narrow, remember that your training applies much more broadly, opening up career opportunities you may not have previously considered. If the traditional/expected career path does not interest you, do not be afraid to seek our other opportunities

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

I enjoy the challenge of designing research studies. The opportunity to develop an experimental hypothesis, determine the best set of techniques required to test that hypothesis, and identify the appropriate analyses techniques is the most enjoyable challenge I regularly encounter. I also enjoy the challenge posed by teaching - developing novel approaches to best deliver content in an interactive and interesting way is both challenging and hugely rewarding.