Arun Kumar

Investigating the role of SUMOylation in nuclear protein quality control
Why did you decide to pursue a graduate degree?

I have always wanted to earn a PhD in Biology since high school. While my interest in science began early in my childhood, it was in high school that I started honing in on biology as my field. Understanding the inner workings and sheer complexity of a cell has always presented itself as a daunting yet beautiful task to me. It seemed only right to take the next step and pursue my bachelor's in biotechnology engineering. There, I had the opportunity to not only learn more about molecular biology, but I was also fortunate enough to intern in different labs and institutes. These experiences gave me enough confidence and background to start my graduate studies here at UBC.

Why did you decide to study at UBC?

I was looking for professors that were asking questions I was interested in. It so happened that quite a few of them were affiliated with UBC and were part of the vibrant and supportive academic community here. UBC also offers many scholarships and fellowships to help fund your PhD which was very important. It also doesn't hurt that such a well-renowned institution is situated in such a beautiful city!

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

The Medical Genetics program offers a rotation program to both incoming Masters and PhD students. This, to me, was a very attractive proposition as an international student. I knew I wanted to join a lab that I was interested in, which had a supportive PI and a great lab environment. The rotation program allowed me to test out three different labs to find out where I belonged. The program also lets you jump from a Masters to a PhD which not a lot of colleges offer. To this date, I'm often mind-blown by how many world leaders across different fields are part of the MedGen program.

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

Everything about the city! I can't sell Vancouver enough. It's got the best sunsets, great beaches to view them from and of course the mountains. I'll still turn a corner and feel in awe at how gorgeous this city is. It helps that the public transit is so well-connected too!

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

My undergraduate internships and experiences have definitely shaped my academic career and acted as a springboard for me to now pursue my PhD at UBC. I owe everything to the support and confidence I've received from my family, friends and all the mentors I've met along the way!

What do you like to do for fun or relaxation?

If not in the lab, I'm usually out playing tennis, hiking or running if the weather permits. Otherwise, you'll find me at home nerding out on music, baking or gaming!

What advice do you have for new graduate students?

Have fun with it! These are going to be some of the best years of your lives. Don't forget why you started this process and why you love it. There will be many moments when your experiments aren't working, or your week isn't going to plan. Remind yourself why you love your field and what your calling is. Additionally, find a hobby that you can come to after work and indulge yourself in. This can be a sport, cooking, brewing, or whatever. Anything that can help you relax, create a work-life balance, boost your mental health and help enjoy this journey of graduate studies. And of course, don't forget to surround yourself with some amazing friends that you can call family!


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