Why did you decide to pursue a graduate degree?
I think the main reason I decided to pursue a PhD is that I am truly passionate about doing research in the field of geotechnical engineering. Research in our field is so exciting, especially when it is aimed to solve industry-related problems; because it pushes boundaries in solving geotechnical challenges by allowing me to bring in creativity and new ideas; freedom I wasn't given when I worked in the industry. The excitement of academic contribution to our field has kept dragging me back to academia.
Why did you decide to study at UBC?
I personally think when one wants to pursue a PhD degree, it is more important to decide which professor to work with than at which university to study. I was lucky that the faculty I was eager to work with (Prof. Scott McDougall and Prof. Erik Eberhardt) were at UBC, my favourite university in Canada; UBC is my favourite not only because it is one of the most prestigious universities across the country but because it offers one of the best programs in geological engineering. Our research in the Geohazard team at the EOAS department involves industry-based projects, and this really adds to the fun because we see how the results of our work help solving geotechnical challenges faced by the industry.
What is it specifically, that your program offers, that attracted you?
One specific thing that attracted me very much was that my PhD program was research-based and taking courses was optional. For me, who already had a master's degree, this was quite nice because I could take courses which I was really interested in, rather than having to take several unnecessary courses only to meet PhD degree requirements.
What was the best surprise about UBC or life in Vancouver?
Before moving here, I always thought about Vancouver as a beautiful place with nice weather. The best surprise for me though was that I could do several kinds of physical activities here. To me, who used to be a professional basketball player, this was amazing. I could explore different kinds of fun activities here, from playing beach volleyball and snowboarding at Cypress to simply riding a bike in Stanley Park. It was only a few months after I started at UBC when the campus was shut down due to COVID. I am super excited to return back to campus to explore new fun activities there.
What aspects of your life or career before now have best prepared you for your UBC graduate program?
Before starting a PhD in geological engineering, I got a bachelor's degree in civil engineering and a master's degree in geotechnical engineering. This was followed by a 2-year industry work experience. I think my relevant academic background combined with my industry experience has helped me a lot in making progress in academic research as well as effectively interacting with our research industry partners.
What advice do you have for new graduate students?
UBC provides you with a lot of opportunities to learn new things related to your field and beyond your field. Don't be afraid to explore them, and try to benefit from them as much as you can before you graduate!