Andrew Kukor

Leveraging automation and real-time analytics to investigate physical and chemical processes
Why did you decide to pursue a graduate degree?

I've always been a curious person with an interest in learning, so after completing my undergraduate degree, a graduate degree seemed like a logical next step. Not only am I gaining more experience, but I'm also learning more every day and engaging with many of the top minds in my field (both locally and internationally via collaborative projects).

Why did you decide to study at UBC?

UBC is one of Canada's top research institutions, offering not only an esteemed body of professors and researchers carrying out experiments, but also many facilities to assist in said experimentation. Add to this the fact that UBC is situated next to lush forests, has multiple museums and botanical gardens on its campus, and has mountain, ocean and sunset views regularly, and it's not hard to see why people come here.

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

UBC's Chemistry Department has state-of-the-art facilities for research and data collection, as well as a world-wide reputation for science research and education. With the option to fast-track from a Master's directly into a PhD program and excellent course options available to graduate students, UBC seemed an ideal place to obtain a graduate degree.

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

I was surprised by how little it actually rains. I had been told my whole life Vancouver basically never sees the sun, but that's simply not true. The summers here are the most gorgeous I've ever seen, with breathtaking mountains, forests, beaches and more to enjoy all within sight of UBC's campus.

UBC is one of Canada's top research institutions, offering not only an esteemed body of professors and researchers carrying out experiments but also many facilities to assist in said experimentation.
What do you see as your biggest challenge(s) in your future career?

While I got a lot of skills during my undergrad, I can't say project management was really one of them (or, by extension, time management and motivation). As such, my PhD so far has definitely been a steep learning curve and one that I am always moving upwards on. I certainly don't think I'm a master at any of it right now, and don't envy being thrown straight into the work force, but I am thankful that I've still got some time to work on my skills until then.

How do you feel your program is preparing you for those challenges?

Part of being a PhD student, a large part, really, is being self-driven regarding managing your own projects and goals. Having the support of my peers and supervisor help me work on projects, and finding what works best for me has been great. I've had many opportunities to step out of my comfort zone and try new things in the chance that they might stick. I'm currently working on far more projects than I ever would have dreamed of upon starting, and while I can't say I always juggle them well, I'm certainly getting better at it every day.

What aspects of your life or career before now have best prepared you for your UBC graduate program?

Lots of experience as an undergraduate in a co-op program certainly helped me get the confidence and lab time I needed to be ready for the level of research I'm currently a part of. My undergraduate work also helped, specifically my honours thesis and volunteer work in regards to helping me approach research the right way.

What do you like to do for fun or relaxation?

Walking, hiking, and biking while listening to audiobooks are my favourite pastimes. Exploring my surroundings is a lot of fun as well, so I intend to see all of Vancouver (and surrounding areas) by the time I graduate.

What advice do you have for new graduate students?

While work is important, developing a healthy work-life balance is even more vital. It's easy to lose track of the important things during graduate studies (especially the first year), but focusing on what you enjoy and remembering to take time for yourself is critical.


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