Katrina Besler

 
The role of smooth muscle cell lysosomal acid lipase in atherosclerosis
 
UBC had everything I needed for my training: cutting-edge research in my field of interest, opportunities for mentorship and collaboration, an excellent Faculty of Medicine, and a successful MD/PhD program.
Why did you decide to pursue a graduate degree?

A career in medicine had always been my goal, but just prior to my undergraduate degree, I attended a series of seminars at the BC Children’s Hospital Research Institute about how research was changing the future of medicine. That led me to spend multiple summers doing lab work, and it wasn’t too long before I was hooked on the hope of discovering something helpful, and enjoying the scientific process and learning environment in the meantime. I wanted to pursue training that would allow me to continue doing medical research, without giving up direct involvement in patient care.

Why did you decide to study at UBC?

I very much wanted to stay in BC, to be close to family, mountains, and the ocean, so I am thankful that UBC had everything I needed for my training: cutting-edge research in my field of interest, opportunities for mentorship and collaboration, an excellent Faculty of Medicine, and a successful MD/PhD program.

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

For me, the MD/PhD program was an opportunity to pursue both medicine and research without sacrificing the quality of my training in either area, or having to leave either of those spheres for too long. The dual degree will qualify me for whatever future opportunities I wish to pursue in either medicine or research, and to integrate the two. I also enjoy being a part of the community of MD/PhD students and faculty.

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

I’ve never lived too far from Vancouver, but almost every day I step outside and feel grateful to be in such a beautiful place. The best surprise about UBC would be how responsive the Faculty of Medicine is to student interests.

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

My adventures in undergraduate research taught me so much: I learned to think and communicate like a scientist, interact in the academic environment, and independently drive a project. Just as importantly, I learned from friends and mentors about some of the challenges of graduate school and how to navigate them.

What advice do you have for new graduate students?

Find a community that isn’t focused on academia, in addition to your academic community. For me, this was my faith community, and I found it to be a huge source of support and a space to remember who I am as a person outside of being a student. Also, it’s okay to take time to adjust to the new challenges of graduate school: you’re not expected to be good at this right away.

 
 
 

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