Katarzyna Kabacinska

End-user perspectives on social robots to support mental health in the hospital and at home
Why did you decide to pursue a graduate degree?

During my undergraduate degree I had the opportunity to work as a Work Learn student in Dr. Julie Robillard's lab. I was studying Cognitive Systems and I was developing an interest in mental health as well as ethics and intelligent robotics. The time I spent in the lab made me realize that research is a rewarding way to make a positive difference. I found joy in the process of learning about a topic, narrowing on the knowledge gap and finding research questions that can help move the field forward. I also found that conducting qualitative research, listening to people’s stories and experiences is personally valuable for me. After I finished my undergraduate degree, it was Dr. Robillard who inspired me to further pursue research topics that I developed interest in during my undergrad and enroll in a graduate program. Graduate studies enabled me to further develop my research skills and explore my topics of interest in more depth.

Why did you decide to study at UBC?

I fell in love with the UBC campus the first time I saw a brochure of it back in high school. Then, my dreams came true when I received a Vantage College Excellence Award which allowed me to move to Vancouver and obtain an undergraduate degree from UBC. I feel extremely privileged to be able to study at a world-class university with some of the brightest scientists in the world. Additionally, Vancouver is a beautiful city, surrounded by nature and I had a great experience studying here, met some of my best friends and discovered what I want to be doing in the future. All these factors combined with encouragement from my supportive mentor contributed to my decision of staying at UBC to pursue a graduate degree.

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

The biggest factor that attracted me to the Experimental Medicine Program is the people - I am thankful for being surrounded by and working with top-notch scientists who are leaders in their disciplines.

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

The best surprise about life in Vancouver is how many different outdoor activities are available all year round. I'm very much enjoying the close proximity to the ocean, mountains, islands and lakes.

I feel extremely privileged to be able to study at a world-class university with some of the brightest scientists in the world.
What aspects of your life or career before now have best prepared you for your UBC graduate program?

I think that the best preparation for my graduate program was completing my Work Learn placement in a research lab. Not only did I become familiar with the research process and try different research methods, but also I learned what it's like to be a part of research team. It helped me realize that collaboration is truly at the core of every project.

What do you like to do for fun or relaxation?

For fun I like to play boardgames with my friends, reading books and doing crafts.

What advice do you have for new graduate students?

My biggest advice would be to foster your curiosity and don't get easily discouraged. It can be tough to find your research topic, but once you finally do, it will make your degree all that more rewarding.


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