Mackenzie Kinney

Species Hybridization as a Mode of Rapid Evolution in Response to Environmental Change
Dolph Schluter
Why did you decide to pursue a graduate degree?

From a young age, I've had a passion for understanding the world around me and a genuine enthusiasm for learning. As I progressed through school and became involved in research assistantships, I found this passion only intensified. I love that I can ask questions about the world, and now I have the ability to try and answer them myself.

Why did you decide to study at UBC?

Initially my attention was drawn to UBC because I wanted to experience life on the west coast and get lost in the mountains. My decision to study here was only made easier by the incredibly collaborative and supportive environment of the Biodiversity Research Centre. I find myself surrounded by so many inspiring researchers, all of whom are very approachable. This isn't something you find very often.

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

I wanted a program that had both fieldwork and a molecular biology component. Working with Dolph has allowed me to do exactly that, by providing incredible knowledge and guidance, experimental work with vertebrates, and the opportunity to conduct work on the beautiful Gulf Islands. Also, as a whole, the Biodiversity Research Center has a broad range of resources and people with different specialties that make collaboration easy.

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

How affordable it is! Just kidding. I think for me, the biggest surprise was how easy it was to maintain an active, outdoorsy lifestyle while living within the city. Both the mountains and the ocean are so close and accessible!

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

I enjoy knowing that I am a Mother of Fishes, Breaker of Tanks and Protector of the Ponds. I never knew that being a PhD student could come with so many more titles beyond just a doctoral candidate.

What do you like to do for fun or relaxation?

I like to find myself in the mountain as much as I can. Hiking and backcountry camping have always been a passion of mine, and moving to the west coast has provided me with a whole new, far more vertical playground. I also took up skiing when I moved here. With Whistler so close and the student pass so reasonable, how could I not? Oh, and knitting in bars!

What advice do you have for new graduate students?

The relationship you have with your supervisor is extremely important. You are spending years of your life working closely with this person, and having a supportive and respectful relationship is critical. Another important thing is remembering to maintain a balance. Someone once told me that doing a PhD is a marathon, not a sprint, and I've never felt anything hold so true. Don't focus only on your research and publishing papers while losing yourself in the process.


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