Thomas Brenner

 
Characterization of bacteriophages as an alternative treatment strategy for foodborne salmonella in the poultry industry
Dr. Siyun Wang
Vancouver
Canada
NSERC Doctoral Prize
 
Why did you decide to pursue a graduate degree?

I became captivated by the process of converting scientific questions into practical experiments during my undergraduate degree where I was fortunate enough to get experience working in a microbiology lab.

Why did you decide to study at UBC?

I decided to study at UBC for many reasons. Most importantly, I met my current supervisor at a conference, loved the work she was doing, and wanted to be a part of it. It also doesn’t hurt that UBC has an amazing international reputation, and it represented an opportunity for adventure in a beautiful Canadian city with stunning natural views!

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

The Food Science program has given me the opportunity to translate the normal microbiology work that I was used to into a practical approach on real food matrices and even in live animals. I crave this sort of integrative and practical approach because I want my research to be applicable. I have also been able to work directly with the government to keep my work in perspective, and I have always had access to any equipment I could ever want to use right here on campus.

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

When I moved here, I was planning to buy a car immediately since I have always needed one in the past places I have lived. It has been over 2 years now, and I still have not needed to buy a car. I can easily walk, bike, bus, SkyTrain, or even take a boat anywhere that I may want to go without an issue.

The Food Science program has given me the opportunity to translate the normal microbiology work that I was used to into a practical approach on real food matrices and even in live animals. UBC has an amazing international reputation, and it represented an opportunity for adventure in a beautiful Canadian city with stunning natural views!
 
What aspect of your graduate program do you enjoy the most or are looking forward to with the greatest curiosity?

UBC has excellent entrepreneurial resources to help scientists translate their research into patented products. I think that it would be exciting to go through this process while I am still here.

What do you see as your biggest challenge(s) in your future career?

I am at the point where I’m starting to seriously consider what is to follow my PhD. I can see the merits of academia, government, and industry, so I am open to all of them for different reasons. It will be hard to choose between these paths. Regardless, I am looking forward to continuing my research and applying what I have learned through my graduate studies in the foreseeable future.

How do you feel your program is preparing you for those challenges?

I have had a very integrated experience at UBC, hearing from industry, academia, and government on a regular basis has been invaluable. I am thankful for all this exposure which has provided me with the much-needed perspective to become well-rounded and grounded as a researcher. I do feel that whichever path I end up travelling, I have been well prepared.

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

I started volunteering in a lab early in my undergraduate degree which really lit the research fire in my belly and helped me engage with my studies early on. I feel very lucky to have been provided such excellent mentorship from both of my graduate supervisors to date.

What do you like to do for fun or relaxation?

I like to walk, run, or bike the many forests, beaches and mountains while listening to music (often The Tragically Hip). There is plenty of craft beer and great food to sample throughout Vancouver as well!

What advice do you have for new graduate students?

With regards to your studies: plan ahead and keep a schedule, work hard, be open and honest with your supervisor, listen to criticism, ask questions, and try things outside of your comfort zone. Outside of your studies: be social, stay active, enjoy it while you’re here (because it flies by), and be humble because nobody is perfect.

 
 
 

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