Why did you decide to pursue a graduate degree?
I did not plan to attend graduate school until I began my undergraduate honours thesis project. Fascinated by the research and thoroughly enjoying the work environment, I completely changed my mind about applying to graduate school about 5 days after starting that project with my current research group.
Why did you decide to study at UBC?
I decided to study at UBC because of the people here. Sure, we had two brand new, state-of-the-art scanners being installed that I could work with, but it was the challenging, supportive, collaborative research environment that really made me want to stay after my undergraduate degree.
What is it specifically, that your program offers, that attracted you?
I have always been attracted to the study of physics because it trains you to become a competent problem solver. It is satisfying to take large, complicated scenarios and isolate the most important underlying components. And because the world has no shortage of problems to be solved, business is always booming!
What was the best surprise about UBC or life in Vancouver?
Having grown up in Vancouver and having done my undergraduate degree at UBC, I can’t say I’ve been particularly surprised by either.
What aspect of your graduate program do you enjoy the most or are looking forward to with the greatest curiosity?
It may sound strange, but I think that my favorite activity in graduate school has been presenting my research outside of the scientific community. Outreach presentations are a fun challenge because it is VERY obvious if you aren’t doing a great job, but equally obvious if you manage to capture the audience’s interest.
What aspects of your life or career before now have best prepared you for your UBC graduate program?
As an undergraduate student, I lived in Germany for about a year working through the UBC co-op program. This was a great experience for building personal confidence in navigating new and sometimes challenging situations. As a graduate student, we are expected to tackle questions for which solutions manuals and answer keys do not exist, so it is important to limit feelings of imposter syndrome and have confidence in your abilities.
What do you like to do for fun or relaxation?
For fun, I have been restoring a 50-year-old car during my free time. At this point, I am at equilibrium in a fight with entropy - fixing the car at the same rate it breaks. This is the perfect hobby though because smacking an ancient, oily rust-bucket with a hammer is the antithesis of my research writing code for a fancy new MRI scanner.
What advice do you have for new graduate students?
I would advise new graduate students to reach out to their peers as early as possible. A good support network is essential for getting through coursework, comprehensive exams, and everything else that a PhD entails.