Aarya Chithran

Aarya Chithran, UBC graduate student
Role of axon guidance genes in the maintenance of adult nervous system
Why did you decide to pursue a graduate degree?

I pursued my undergraduate degree in Biotechnology. And ever since, I knew that I wanted to make research a part of my career. It was my first undergraduate internship that convinced me to pursue a graduate degree in neuroscience. The complexity and accuracy of the brain have always amazed me. I wanted to further deepen my knowledge and discover the fundamental mechanisms involved in the development and maintenance of the nervous system. I love being able to spend my days trying to solving research questions that no one has found answers to.

Why did you decide to study at UBC?

During my undergraduate degree, I attended a 12-week ‘MITACS Globalink Research Internship’ program at UBC, in the summer of 2012. This was my first time outside India and it was this single experience that made me choose UBC for grad school. During the internship, I had the opportunity to meet with a few faculty members of the Neuroscience Graduate Program. After my internship in 2012, I came back to UBC in 2013 for my Bachelor’s honours thesis. I graduated with a MSc. in Neuroscience from UBC in 2016 and started my PhD here in 2017. The diverse student community, the beautiful campus, great collaborations, and research resources were all a few factors that helped me choose UBC.

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

UBC’s Neuroscience Graduate Program is very interdisciplinary and accepts students from various educational backgrounds. For the very same reason, the program also allows flexibility so that the individual needs and background of each student is accommodated. By being in this program, I have been fortunate to study alongside a group of diverse and extraordinarily capable colleagues from various backgrounds such as Biology, Computer Science, Mathematics, Physics, etc. The program ensures we develop a broad knowledge of neuroscience while we gain intensive experience in at least one area of research. The Neuroscience Graduate Program is also home to outstanding faculty who are trained in a wide variety of disciplines and are among the leaders in their respective subfields. To be able to collaborate and interact with these bright minds seemed like a great opportunity for me.

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

Vancouver is a wonderful city to call home and it is easy to connect with nature here- the mountains, the beaches, the hiking trails, the parks, the rivers, the lakes. Besides, the community at UBC and Vancouver has been welcoming all along.

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

The MITACS Globalink Research Internship that I underwent at UBC introduced me to the work culture here and has well-prepared me for this stride. In addition, other research experiences during my undergraduate degree have certainly helped me a lot in developing my research instincts and improving my problem-solving skills, analysis techniques, writing and communicating skills.

What do you like to do for fun or relaxation?

I love to be outdoors- hiking, camping, kayaking, biking. I have also been on the council for multiple student network groups- organizing events and meeting new graduate students.

What advice do you have for new graduate students?

Grad school will be challenging but don’t drown yourself in work. Find a good way to release your stress. Vancouver and UBC have a lot to offer, so learn to enjoy your research experience here!


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