Why did you decide to pursue a graduate degree?
Since the dawn of human history, humans have always sought to have a lasting permanence, and some humans have been successful in a sense, since their achievements have endured long after they have physically departed. I am not an exception to this quest. I am very passionate about cancer research, and I have been very active in this field during the past years with my M.Sc. studies and work as a research technician. In my objective of becoming a prominent scholar, both in research and teaching, I needed to acquire much more knowledge and experience than I have now. Enrolling in a Ph.D. graduate program allows me to acquire the necessary scientific research skills, including how to formulate testable hypotheses, and using relevant tools for conducting original research.
Why did you decide to study at UBC?
For me, first, working with my supervisor, Prof. Steven Pelech, was the main reason for my choice of UBC. Dr. Pelech's lab is a pioneer and a world leader in the development of antibodies and antibody microarrays for tracking kinases, phosphatases, phosphorylation sites, and a wide range of other signal transduction proteins. His lab has been mapping the interactions between these proteins to elucidate cell signalling systems that maintain healthy cells and when defective lead to cancer, diabetes and hundreds of other diseases. The Vancouver area was also a major draw for me. If you want to be exposed to beautiful nature (ocean, beaches, mountains, and forests), warm and welcoming people that always have a smile, and high-quality academic and research facilities at the same time; Vancouver and UBC are the right choices. Doing a Ph.D. at UBC in the Experimental Medicine Graduate Program, offers great opportunities for me to cultivate my full potential. Moreover, studying at UBC has provided me with unique opportunities to get to know internationally renown scientists and their research activities. The opportunity to collaborate scientiﬁcally with outstanding groups, utilize state-of-art facilities and cutting-edge technologies are some of the advantages of studying at UBC for me.
What is it specifically, that your program offers, that attracted you?
The Experimental Medicine Graduate Program’s objectives include:
- Teaching the student the application of modern techniques in research;
- Developing within the student the ability to read and criticize scientific literature, and to know the current state of knowledge in their particular field;
- Teaching the student to accurately define a problem and to design experiments which solve problems according to scientific standards;
- Teaching the student to conduct research on an independent basis; and
- Developing in all students the ability to communicate results of their research to the scientific community.
What was the best surprise about UBC or life in Vancouver?
The best surprise about UBC is its cultural diversity. UBC ranks as one of North America’s most international universities and this has given me the opportunity to make friends of different nationalities, including from Canada, China, U.S., India, Nigeria, etc. I am very looking forward to widening my social circle after the pandemic restrictions have finally been lifted.
What aspects of your life or career before now have best prepared you for your UBC graduate program?
I gained valuable research and work experiences in the past years by working as a Research Assistant in the Cellular and Molecular Research Center at Zahedan University of Medical Sciences. These experiences help me identify my strengths and weaknesses in both research and teaching, to get involved in various research groups, and train with experienced researchers. Also, since I had a busy schedule before starting my studies at UBC, I learned how to manage my time and maintain a healthy work-life balance, now I have a good daily schedule that I really enjoy, even though it seems that this is the busiest time in my life. Last but not least, being a member of a large family made me an independent person that is a great advantage for either a researcher or a person who is more than 11,000 km-far from his hometown in Iran.
What do you like to do for fun or relaxation?
Owing to the nature of my career, I am busy most time during weekdays, so having fun and relaxation is vitally important in my life; it allows me to rejuvenate my body and mind, reduces stress, and improves overall health. It also improves my creativity which helps me to enhance my focus and performance in my work. I listen to my favorite music every day after finishing my research in my lab; it restores my energy for rest of the day. Performing sports is another hobby that helps me relax; running, soccer, hiking, watching movies and matches of my favorite soccer team, The Gunners (Arsenal F.C.).
What advice do you have for new graduate students?
Long story short, the challenges that we graduate students are facing are not easy, in particular in the current situation due to Covid-19. So for answering this question, I would like to get help from two elites. Marie Curie, the two times Polish Nobel Prize winner, said “I was taught that the way of progress was neither swift nor easy.” We should also always keep in mind Iranian mathematician and philosopher, Omar Khayyam words “Be happy for this moment, this moment is your life.”.