Why did you decide to pursue a graduate degree?
I decided to pursue a graduate degree after working in the mineral exploration industry for a few years. Although I picked up great skills and learned quite a bit, I found there was never enough time to observe, to sketch, or to walk another five minutes to see the other side of a rock outcrop just for curiosity's sake. As a graduate student, my job is now to hike all summer, kick rocks, read academic papers, marshall my thoughts, and generally chase a problem down until it keels over. I enjoy the freedom to ask and answer questions, and to share and collaborate with advisors, lab mates, and students who feel the same way.
Why did you decide to study at UBC?
I decided to study at UBC because I have a lot of family on the West Coast, and was already attending UBC as a non-degree student in order to pick up a few more undergraduate courses for professional designation. I appreciated the quality of instruction in my department, and the resources available for graduate students and undergrads alike. I will also admit that I fell in love with the new aquatic center.
What is it specifically, that your program offers, that attracted you?
UBC is close to the landscape that became my home as an undergraduate student while attending Quest University in Squamish, BC. Steep glaciated fjords, looming volcanoes, lava flows perched in hanging valleys - the Garibaldi Volcanic Belt is a pretty geologically astounding place. I chose UBC's EOAS department because it hosts the lab of my advisor, Dr Kelly Russell, who is one of the foremost researchers on glaciovolcanism and has focused a lot of his research on volcanoes in the Garibaldi Volcanic Belt.
What was the best surprise about UBC or life in Vancouver?
I knew the UBC campus was big, but didn't appreciate its size until I became a student here. I love walking along Main Mall and looking at the jumble of wooden annexes, the old stone library and chemistry buildings, modern glass building facades, the whale skeleton floating at eye level in the biodiversity museum, the longhouse, the the cement clock tower - it's an incredible campus.
What aspects of your life or career before now have best prepared you for your UBC graduate program?
I attended Quest University as an undergraduate, a small liberal arts and sciences school in British Columbia. Their undergrad program is very self-directed and project-based, and required a synthesizing, final Keystone project for graduation. Getting experience developing research questions and a research plan early in my academic career was incredibly helpful as I began my graduate studies. During my undergrad, I had the opportunity to work at the Yukon Geological Survey as a field assistant. Watching the project geologists at the YGS prepare for a field season, set up helicopter fly-camps, plan traverses, and map vast areas of land throughout the summer was an eye-opening experience. I learned from the best right from the beginning, and I'm grateful to have gotten that opportunity, especially as I plan the field season for my own research.
What advice do you have for new graduate students?
I made the decision to go into academia almost three years before I was accepted into a graduate program. I'm glad that I took the time to discover what I wanted from grad school before applying. I narrowed down my field of interest from my broad interests and strengths during my undergrad to a much smaller, focused list. I considered what I wanted my day-to-day research life to consist of. Having the opportunity to do field work was a main priority. So too, was using analytical techniques like optical mineralogy. I wanted to enjoy the process of my research just as much as I cared about the eventual outcome and the overall topic.