W. Austin Guild

Investigating the protective role of endogenous retroviruses against herpes simplex virus-2 infection
Maria Tokuyama
Grand Forks
Why did you decide to pursue a graduate degree?

During my undergraduate degree in microbiology and psychology and UBC Okanagan I realized I really wanted to pursue a career where I could help people. After considering several potential career paths, and future education programs, I decided that pursuing a research based graduate degree in microbiology and immunology would allow me to help people by contributing further knowledge to the scientific community.

Why did you decide to study at UBC?

I had a very enjoyable time at the UBC Okanagan campus over the five years I was completing my undergraduate studies. I really wanted to continue my education at UBC, however, I also wanted to experience life in a new city; therefore, I chose to pursue continuing education at the Vancouver campus.

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

An aspect of the microbiology and immunology program that really attracted me was how immersive it is. In one aspect, after starting in the program you immediately begin learning and using laboratory techniques and working towards your own research. I was also attracted by the fact that you get immersed with so many people in the department through introductory courses and weekly departmental seminars.

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

The biggest surprise for me was the beauty of the campus. I had toured the campus before starting in the program; however, until I was going to work daily I had not fully appreciated the location and natural amenities, such as being just a five minute walk away from the ocean anywhere on campus.

What aspect of your graduate program do you enjoy the most or are looking forward to with the greatest curiosity?

The aspect of my program that I enjoy the most would be making connections with other students throughout the department. Due to the closeness of the department, it is easy to make lasting connections with other people working towards the same goal.

What do you see as your biggest challenge(s) in your future career?

I think the biggest challenge I will face in my future career as a teaching professor is going to be the competitive nature of jobs in this field. However, hopefully over the next few years there will be an increase in job positions and enough space for everyone.

How do you feel your program is preparing you for those challenges?

For my program, one thing that prepares me for such challenges is the many opportunities to learn and gain experience in teaching methods at the university level. Through TA-ships, courses, programs, and mentorships there are a lot of ways to prepare me for such jobs.

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

An aspect of my life that has prepared me for my graduate program career would be my undergraduate studies. Soon after entering my undergraduate program, I was determined to have good grades in order to be able to pursue higher education after graduation. In addition, I had also made the decision to do a double major, but still graduate in five years, preparing me for the demanding nature of graduate school.

What do you like to do for fun or relaxation?

When I am not in the lab I enjoy reading and writing fiction. In addition, I enjoy spending time with my family, my fiancé, our cat and two dogs. We like taking long drives and exploring new areas and restaurants.

What advice do you have for new graduate students?

One thing I would say to incoming graduate students would be to take your time in your program. It is very easy to rush the process and miss out on important opportunities, as well as overwhelm yourself. Graduate school is a marathon, not a sprint!

Q54. Outside of your academic work, what are the ways that you engage with your local or global community? Are there projects in particular that you are proud of?

Outside of my academic work at UBC I am also a graduate student representative for our departmental EDI committee, as well as a member our “Let’s Talk EDI” committee. By being a part of these committees, I am able to address EDI topics within our department, as well as leading EDI discussions with other students.


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