Madison Bolger-Munro

Cytoskeletal regulation of receptor patterning and implications for B cell function

Why did you decide to pursue a graduate degree?

I have wanted to be a scientist for my whole life! Pursuing a graduate degree was an obvious choice for my career goals. A PhD also provided me with the opportunity to explore new ideas and research questions.

Why did you decide to study at UBC?

After my undergraduate degree, I knew I wanted to combine my training in immunology with my interest in cell biology. The Life Sciences Institute has both immunology and cell biology labs under one roof and the interdisciplinary environment was really exciting. The Life Sciences Institute also has great core facilities so I knew I would have the tools I needed to pursue the research questions I was interested in.

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

I was immediately very excited by the research of Dr. Michael Gold and his lab. The lab was taking multidisciplinary approaches to address fundamental questions about how immune cells function. I was specifically attracted to the interdisciplinary collaborations, the great mentorship from Dr. Gold and the very supportive departmental community.

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

I think I was most surprised by the feeling of community in the Microbiology and Immunology Department. I have received so much support from so many people.

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

During my undergraduate studies, I was able to develop my laboratory skills as an Undergraduate Research Assistant in Dr. Marco Marra's lab, working with Dr. Andy Mungall. Because I enjoyed lab work so much I made sure to pick an undergraduate major program with a large laboratory component. The Microbiology and Immunology program at UBC provided me with great technical training as well the skills required to carry out my own research project. Additionally, my experience as a competitive ski racer taught me resilience, which I think has been particularly important!

What do you like to do for fun or relaxation?

I love to ski and try to spend as much time outside as I can!

What advice do you have for new graduate students?

Seek out opportunities to meet and network with other researchers in your field. My thesis work has been greatly enriched by collaborations that I established with scientists that I meet at meetings. There are many funding opportunities available for attending conferences and visiting collaborators. I have also met many other graduate students at meetings that have become close friends. Build a network of supportive friends who understand the challenges of graduate studies!

This is a B cell spreading on a stimulatory glass coverslip. I have stained for actin cytoskeleton. The different colours represent different intensities of the actin staining.