Andy An

Temporal Transcriptomics and Epigenetic Changes in Sepsis Survivors
Why did you decide to pursue a graduate degree?

What does a graduate degree offer me? It offers me opportunities: the opportunity to learn how to critically evaluate scientific results; the opportunity to test hypotheses and push the boundary of known knowledge in my field; the opportunity to build relationships with both current and future scientific leaders; and most importantly, the opportunity to improve the world around me and improve myself. These opportunities are rare and valuable, and I am excited to be one of the lucky few who have the privilege of pursuing a graduate degree to hopefully change the world for the better.

Why did you decide to study at UBC?

I've been living on campus for most of my life - I went to both U-Hill Elementary and Secondary, as well as UBC for my undergraduate degree. Am I sick of UBC? No, it's the exact opposite: this sense of stability and familiarity, combined with the excellent research community at UBC and the natural beauty of Vancouver, is what made me decide to continue at UBC for my graduate degree.

What is it specifically, that your program offers, that attracted you?

The MD/PhD program provides me with the training to become not only a physician who sees patients, but also a researcher who can hopefully develop new therapies for these patients. It gives me a unique perspective as a clinician-scientist to know what questions are clinically meaningful to ask, as well as what new research results could be applied to help patients. This best-of-both-worlds approach, as well as the excellent track record of UBC's MD/PhD program, attracted me to pursue my dual degree here.

What was the best surprise about UBC or life in Vancouver?

Despite living here for most of my life, I am still always surprised by the natural beauty of the campus and of Vancouver in general. I'm a nature enthusiast, so I'm always delighted when I see a bird or plant that I haven't seen before. Plus, watching sunsets from behind the MoA never gets old. The West Coast is truly the best coast!

What aspects of your life or career before now have best prepared you for your UBC graduate program?

My undergraduate research experience definitely helped me develop the foundational research skills in a low-stakes environment, like how to ask the right research questions, design experiments, troubleshoot, present results, and apply for funding. I highly recommend everyone who is interested in research to first spend some time in a lab as an undergraduate - many labs will be happy to take on an enthusiastic student, all you need to do is ask!

What advice do you have for new graduate students?

Another student told me this, which really resonated with me: Treat your degree like a startup, and you're the CEO. That means you have to take ownership of your thesis project, because nobody else will. Taking ownership means having a vision or a plan of how your project will ultimately pan out and carrying out that plan with the best of your ability. At the same time though, you should be flexible and adapt to new situations because that plan will 99% of the time not work out as expected (experiments not working, samples being delayed, a global pandemic...). But as long as you treat your project as your brainchild, you will be accountable to yourself and achieve the goals you set out to achieve.


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