Chad Atkins

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Assessing the quality of stored red blood cells
 

Why did you decide to pursue a graduate degree?

I've always been passionate about school and learning new things, a fact my mother would gladly corroborate. Pursuing a graduate degree in science provides an opportunity to explore an area that has previously not been investigated. The prospect of participating in this process and furthering the knowledge of a certain area was something I was unable to resist.

Why did you decide to study at UBC?

Having been part of smaller departments in my past degrees, I was looking to expose myself to a larger and more-extensive research community. Furthermore, I was interested in diversifying my pure chemistry background with aspects of interdisciplinary research. There were numerous opportunities for this at UBC, and coupled with the campus' commitment to being a leader in sustainability, I was eager to become a part of the community.

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

For an outdoor hobbyist such as myself, there is no better place than Vancouver. While this wasn't necessarily a surprise, the vast array of choices (and their close proximity to the city) was remarkable. In the winter months, there are several ski hills to tackle and in the summer, multiple hiking trails waiting to be explored.

What do you hope to accomplish with your research?

Clinical evidence exists that suggests the degradation of stored red blood cells is responsible for a variety of post-transfusion illnesses. With demand for blood products steadily rising, effectively managing the supplies becomes a more challenging task. By devising a tool that is able to non-invasively assess blood bags, it is hoped that these illnesses can be reduced and patients requiring transfusion can be assured to receive blood of optimal quality.

What has winning a major award meant to you?

It is incredibly encouraging to be recognized by an award that values the many contributions of graduate students to both their research and community involvement. I would like to express gratitude to the trustees and hope my work will motivate others to exceed their own expectations in their graduate careers.

What advice do you have for new graduate students?

Take advantage of all of the opportunities that are afforded to a graduate student. Yes, you have to be diligent with your time and work hard, but try to avoid falling in the trap of associating with just classmates. Get involved with something in the community. Meet people. Do things you aren't comfortable with.