Atul Aravindakshan

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Built environment, metabolomics, and cancer risk
Trevor Dummer, Parveen Bhatti
Why did you decide to pursue a graduate degree?

I am a dentist by background and was involved in public health campaigns as a clinician. While participating in these campaigns I recognized my interest in conducting health research, mainly to try and figure out what is driving the incidence of chronic diseases. This prompted me to enquire about graduate programs in public health and look at public health research as a career.

Why did you decide to study at UBC?

Apart from being one of the top universities in Canada, UBC offers a rich research environment which was important to me. Another important point while choosing UBC was that my research interests are closely aligned with the research my supervisors conduct, and it is proving to be a great learning experience.

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

I wanted my time in a graduate program to be spent attaining skills, either through coursework or experience, which would be helpful for my future career goals. The doctoral program at the School of Population and Public Health has offered me just that. Both my supervisors, Dr. Trevor Dummer and Dr. Parveen Bhatti, have been extremely supportive and encouraging, and promote independent thinking. Just by associating with them I've been exposed to their approach to critical thinking and conducting research which was of paramount importance to me.

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

Vancouver is one of the prettiest cities I've lived in and has a lot of natural beauty around it. I often visit places like Stanley Park, Downtown Vancouver, and the beaches. Each place has its own activities and it's great to see people from different communities thriving and enjoying themselves at these places.

Apart from being one of the top universities in Canada, UBC offers a rich research environment which was important to me.
What aspects of your life or career before now have best prepared you for your UBC graduate program?

What I've learnt from life is that progress is never going to be a straight line aiming for the sky. There will be ups and downs. What is important is to take the good an the bad in your stride and not lose focus. Additionally, collaboration is key for a successful research project. I have knowledge gaps which would be filled by colleagues and vice-versa.

What do you like to do for fun or relaxation?

I've taken up playing badminton thanks to a few friends at UBC. Although it is difficult to meet regularly, we try to meet as often as possible.

What advice do you have for new graduate students?

Make the best use of the education your program at UBC has to offer. At the same time have personal hobbies and interests outside of academia, which is necessary to keep a work-life balance. It is very easy to feel overwhelmed while enrolled in a graduate program. Give importance to the work you do, but also realize when you need to take breaks, even if it is for something small like a 30-minute walk in a park.


Read tips on applying, reference letters, statement of interest, reaching out to prospective supervisors, interviews and more in our Application Guide!