Why did you decide to pursue a graduate degree?
As I neared the end of my undergraduate degree, it felt like I had barely scratched the surface of physics. There are so many topics that I remain fascinated by and want to understand better. I also like working on complex problems: it's fun to chip away at a puzzle until you crack it open to reveal a new insight. Graduate school seemed like a natural place to keep feeding those interests, so it was an easy choice for me.
Why did you decide to study at UBC?
I get excited about all kinds of physics, not just my field of specialization, so I wanted to find a department with a wide variety of research topics. I was also able to find a supervisor whom I work well with in a field that suits my research interests. Last but not least, there are very few locations like Vancouver where you can find all the exciting aspects of a city along with incredible access to nature and outdoor sports.
What is it specifically, that your program offers, that attracted you?
I found an excellent research group and supervisor whose research styles fit well with mine. There's also the Stewart Blusson Quantum Matter Institute, which I like because it gives me (a theorist) the chance to stay connected with the latest developments in experimental quantum physics. Finally, the breadth of research happening at UBC allows me to take courses from experts on topics outside my field of specialization.
What was the best surprise about UBC or life in Vancouver?
I'm a Calgary native, so I'm used to sunny, frigid days through the winter. The best surprise about Vancouver is a double-edged sword: you can go outside in December without five layers of warm clothing, but you might not see the sun again until May! Still, Vancouver makes up for all the clouds with breathtaking ocean views and gigantic trees, and you can always go skiing if you need a bit of sunshine.
What aspects of your life or career before now have best prepared you for your UBC graduate program?
There are two: competitive sports and exchanges abroad. Sports helped me appreciate that getting things done calls for teamwork and personal responsibility in equal parts. It also taught me to keep working towards my long-term goals even when the results aren't immediate. Spending time abroad helped me become more independent and more comfortable with uncertainty. More importantly, it reminds me to appreciate and enjoy my time as a graduate student; like any trip, it won't last forever.
What do you like to do for fun or relaxation?
Too many to count! To name a few: hiking, biking, running, skiing, sailing, kayaking, windsurfing, any team sport, playing the piano or the guitar, reading, doing crosswords, and cooking or baking.
What advice do you have for new graduate students?
I think grad school is a lot of fun because there's always something new and exciting to try, academically and otherwise. However, one of the biggest challenges is finding a balance between doing everything and doing nothing well. I don't claim to have mastered this balance in practice, but realizing that you can't do everything all at once is a good start.