Why did you decide to pursue a graduate degree?
I became enamoured with scientific research as an undergraduate volunteer - with the challenge and excitement of answering unanswered questions - and decided that there was nothing I'd like more than to make a career of that. Undertaking a graduate degree was both edifying for me and important to achieving my post-university career goals, but also an important way in which I could use the knowledge I gained as an undergraduate to contribute back to the scientific community, and to society more broadly.
Why did you decide to study at UBC?
I was drawn to UBC because of the prospect of working with my current supervisor, Dr. Chris Harley, who is a well-regarded expert in intertidal ecology. As an added bonus, UBC and its Department of Zoology are also among the best of their kind within North America, which made moving to Vancouver for graduate studies an easy choice.
What is it specifically, that your program offers, that attracted you?
Working in the Zoology department at UBC has provided me with, in addition to a wonderful supervisor, access to a wide range of expertise in topics ranging from physiology to biomechanics to microbial ecology. I have found the academic environment of the department to be extremely conducive to cross-disciplinary work, which has allowed me to expand the questions I can ask in my own research.
What was the best surprise about UBC or life in Vancouver?
Despite not being a big city person, I have grown extremely fond of Vancouver and UBC. It's truly a beautiful place to live and study, particularly because of the many opportunities for outdoor activities afforded by the numerous nearby mountains.
What aspect of your graduate program do you enjoy the most or are looking forward to with the greatest curiosity?
I am most looking forward to collaborations with other scientists. I would like to travel to another country to undertake work in another study system with another lab, but I'm also excited to potentially collaborate with other graduate student researchers in Zoology.
What do you see as your biggest challenge(s) in your future career?
I'm currently interested in pursuing a career in academia, and I think the main challenge facing me in that arena (aside from actually securing a job) is maintaining a healthy work-life balance. Academia lends itself well to workaholism with the many pressures imposed by managing a research program, instructing courses, and participating in committees and administrative duties, and I forsee that being an issue.
What do you like to do for fun or relaxation?
When not hard at work, I enjoy spending as much time as possible outdoors (ideally in the company of good friends), doing crafts such as knitting and taxidermy, and playing Dungeons & Dragons.
What advice do you have for new graduate students?
I found the immense freedom and independence provided by graduate research extremely disconcerting at first, particularly as someone who enjoys structure and clearly defined expectations. If you feel a bit lost at sea when you first start your degree, don't worry, I'm fairly certain that feeling is near-universal for graduate students.