Brian Hayes was a participant in the 2018 UBC Three Minute Thesis competition, with his presentation, “How does spinal cord injury impact the intrinsic function of the heart?"
Why did you decide to pursue a graduate degree?
I am highly interested in pursuing a career in the health care field in the future, but I wanted to gain experience with the research side of the picture. Pursuing a graduate degree has given me an appreciation for the importance of having well designed, evidence based translational research underway to constantly challenge and improve our current knowledge of patient-disease interaction.
Why did you decide to study at UBC?
I received my undergraduate degree from the UBC School of Kinesiology, and met my current PI during my final year. I stayed in touch after leaving UBC for a gap year, and found myself very drawn to returning to Dr West's lab, as his work is addressing a dangerous gap in our knowledge about the health of individuals following spinal cord injury.
What is it specifically, that your program offers, that attracted you?
The opportunity to do research at ICORD, on top of having the opportunity to work as a teaching assistant for Kinesiology courses that I took myself as an undergrad, has brought fantastic benefits to my current set-up. I am able to be a part of a cutting-edge integrative research setting, as well as support the learning of undergraduate students in a relatable manner.
What was the best surprise about UBC or life in Vancouver?
The best surprise for me has been how great my connection has been to ICORD UBC, as well as other UBC-affiliated research arms through VCHRI.
What aspect of your graduate program do you enjoy the most or are looking forward to with the greatest curiosity?
I have been offered the opportunity to do a research exchange project at the University of Split in Croatia, which provides me not only with the chance to live in a beautiful new city, but also to work under new mentors and in new labs, to gain a wider breadth of research experience.
What do you see as your biggest challenge(s) in your future career?
Finding the balance between clinical time with patients, identifying the limitations to my current practice, executing research projects to address those limitations, and also having time for myself and my eventual family.
How do you feel your program is preparing you for those challenges?
My program is certainly allowing me to gain experiences in different aspects of research, and providing me with the platform to meet and collaborate with professionals who are usually happy to provide their insight and advice.
What aspects of your life or career before now have best prepared you for your UBC graduate program?
Being a very independent and organized person during my undergrad prepared me for the very unstructured experience of a master's degree.
What do you like to do for fun or relaxation?
Hiking, camping, snowboarding, cycling and performing music with my barbershop quartet or with friends at open mic nights.
What advice do you have for new graduate students?
Make sure you pick a PI whose work and approach to mentorship fit you well, then do you research to stay aware of the many opportunities available to UBC grad students for free. These range from workshops to scholarships. There's a lot out there for grads compared to undergrads!