Alexander Garner

Garner Alexander's image
Investigating how pancreatic islet architecture impacts function
Why did you decide to pursue a graduate degree?

I've always been curious and unable to let an unanswered question rest. I'm also someone who thinks for myself and likes to lead by coming up with my own ideas. Grad school is about following up on questions, and sharing and debating ideas. I don't think there's a better place in the world for people to share thoughts and have everyone come out having learned something new.

Why did you decide to study at UBC?

World class research and an amazing city. UBC has the benefit of having cutting edge researchers who allow me to participate in landmark research. On top of this, the UBC campus and Vancouver are surrounded by parks and the mountains providing the opportunities of a big city without having to sacrifice the beauty of nature and the great outdoors.

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

The CELL program has a range of high-quality professors that are incredibly helpful. Furthermore, the student community in the CELL program is one of the best I have seen at UBC. Shortly after starting my degree, I joined the Cell Biology and Physiology Graduate Society (CPhyGS) – a student group that helps to foster a sense of community and professional development among graduate students. In my current role as a CPhyGS executive I hope to help strengthen and broaden this community.

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

Everyone says that it always rains in Vancouver. I think that Vancouver does not have four seasons, but rather only two: a wet and a dry season. While it is true that the fall and winter get a lot of rain, I was pleasantly surprised to find that late spring and summer in Vancouver are incredibly sunny and pleasantly warm. In my mind, the ideal summer weather.

UBC has the benefit of having cutting edge researchers who allow me to participate in landmark research.
What aspects of your life or career before now have best prepared you for your UBC graduate program?

I started early. Not many labs are interested in taking on a student that has only finished their first year of their undergrad. However, I was determined to get research experience, so I asked around during reading break to see if there were any positions available. I was lucky enough to have two labs offer me positions and I had the luxury of making a choice. I enjoyed research so much that I ended up working there throughout my undergrad. I got a wealth of experience and had the chance to collaborate with other PIs as well. Although my current research is different from what I previously worked on, the skills I developed have helped me to thrive in science.

What do you like to do for fun or relaxation?

Adventures: inside and out. I play soccer on a team hosted by my course union, and I love walks and hikes. There is so much to explore both within Vancouver and nearby. I am also a HUGE fan of tabletop, card, and board games. I like to play Dungeons and Dragons a couple times a week if I can.

What advice do you have for new graduate students?

Take initiative. Even though grad school is largely a self-driven journey, there are many supportive people willing to help you at UBC. You just need to reach out to them and ask. If you want something, make it a reality. You never know what you can accomplish. The whole campus is a resource designed to spur your learning and professional development.


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