Ariene Cabantog

An improved culture protocol for primary multiple myeloma cells
Florian Kuchenbauer, Arefeh Rouhi
Why did you decide to pursue a graduate degree?

While completing my undergraduate studies at UBC, I gained valuable research experience through the Co-operative Education Program. This program provided me with the opportunity to work in both industry and academic settings, where I engaged in cancer research. I realized that my passion lay in exploring complex scientific questions and uncovering insights that could drive the development of innovative cancer treatments.

These experiences helped me identify my interest in pursuing a career in cancer research. In my final year of undergrad at UBC, I shifted my focus from marine biology to cell biology, with the intention to advance my education in graduate school. The decision to pursue a doctorate was a natural next step, offering me the chance to deepen my expertise, develop as a scientist, and make meaningful contributions to cancer research. Through the doctoral program, I aim to build a solid foundation for my career and play a role in the ongoing efforts to improve cancer treatment and patient outcomes.

Why did you decide to study at UBC?

I spent my childhood in various parts of the world but ultimately made British Columbia my home. When deciding where to pursue my undergraduate degree, I knew that staying in BC was important to me - I loved the proximity to the ocean and the mountains, and I wanted to be near my family. UBC stood out as my top choice, due to its excellent reputation among Canada's universities and its strong focus on research. In addition, UBC celebrates cultural diversity, international collaborations and instills a global perspective in students.

My undergraduate years at UBC were fantastic, largely due to the meaningful relationships I built, the valuable lessons I learned in and out of the classroom, and the personal growth that came from engaging in the university's many extra-curricular activities. There was no question in my mind that I wanted to continue my education at UBC. Ten years later, I'm still proud to be part of the UBC community. I feel privileged to learn from outstanding scientists who are leading their fields and to be surrounded by a vibrant academic atmosphere.

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

When I chose to pursue a career in research, I was determined to focus on cancer studies. Cancer research encompasses a wide range of topics, requiring a comprehensive approach that considers the various factors influencing the development, mechanisms and treatments of cancers. The Interdisciplinary Oncology Program (IOP) appealed to me because of its broad perspective on disease mechanisms. What drew me to the IOP was its commitment to comprehensive study, collaboration, and innovation, which offers the flexibility to tailor my education to align with my specific research goals.

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

Vancouver is a great place to live thanks to its cultural diversity, outdoor activities, and natural beauty. The city's mix of cultures creates a lively scene with diverse food, festivals, and events. In addition, Vancouver's location near mountains and ocean means you can hike, ski, or kayak without travelling far. The blend of culture and nature makes Vancouver feel like home.

What drew me to the IOP was its commitment to comprehensive study, collaboration, and innovation, which offers the flexibility to tailor my education to align with my specific research goals.
What do you see as your biggest challenge(s) in your future career?

I am grateful to be surrounded by female role models in STEM who have paved the way for other women in these fields. They have broken down barriers, setting an example of what it takes to thrive in STEM. I aspire to follow in their footsteps, overcoming challenges to build a successful career while striving to maintain a balanced life.

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

Interpersonal skills and perseverance have been essential to my success in the graduate program. My active involvement in the UBC community, including participating in clubs, volunteering, and serving as a Residence Advisor during my undergraduate years, has made me a more social and engaged person. Through these experiences, I developed key soft skills like active listening and empathy, which have been invaluable in fostering collaborations with colleagues. These skills have also equipped me with the resilience needed to persevere through challenging experiments and setbacks in my research.

What do you like to do for fun or relaxation?

I enjoy attending local comedy shows in Vancouver and exploring the stunning landscapes that British Columbia offers. During the summer, you can find me hiking through the scenic trails or kayaking. I also believe in continuous personal growth, and therefore have taken up boxing as my latest challenge!

What advice do you have for new graduate students?

Make sure you are happy with your team and are excited to come to work every day. Working in a supportive environment with supervisors and peers you can lean on plays a huge role in achieving success. Put in the effort to foster the type of atmosphere in which you will thrive. Also, leave room for life outside grad school! A healthy work-life balance will help you succeed.

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