Dorothy Lin

The associations between prenatal bisphenol exposures and gestational epigenetic age acceleration in cord blood
Michael Kobor
Why did you decide to pursue a graduate degree?

I pursued a graduate degree to gain a large breadth of research skills to aid the future work that I hope to undertake in the mental health field. The lived experiences of myself, my peers, and my family have built the foundation of my interest in uncovering the biological and psychosocial factors of psychopathology. Furthermore, the institutionalized barriers and human attitudes that fuel mental health stigma have lent my interest in understanding the sociological roots of psychopathology and the approaches to help those who experience psychopathology live less painful lives. I hope that both the technical and soft research skills that I gain from this graduate degree will help me in my future goal to address these important social health topics.

Why did you decide to study at UBC?

The genetics research community at UBC is what prompted me to choose UBC as the school for my graduate studies. When researching the potential supervisors in the Medical Genetics department, I was impressed by the variety of research - from translational science to basic science in a large range of topics. This variety made me feel like UBC would be a school in which I could explore different interests.

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

My initial interest was fueled by the wide variety of research topics in the Medical Genetics department, especially the innovative statistical research I had read about in the supervisor profiles. What fueled my interest further were my discussions with potential supervisors when I was applying for the program. Both the supervisors I had spoken to displayed warmth and kindness and I knew that I would be in good hands upon choosing UBC. Lastly, the program coordinator of Medical Genetics was immensely helpful and encouraging, making me feel immediately welcome into the program.

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

I was surprised by the sheer number of research seminars and research conferences that take place at UBC. There is never a shortage of opportunities to fuel your interest in topics that may be completely unrelated to your field of study. Moreover, the research conferences are accessible to participate in, and I have met wonderful individuals from all across the various UBC campuses at these events.

The genetics research community at UBC is what prompted me to choose UBC as the school for my graduate studies.
What aspect of your graduate program do you enjoy the most or are looking forward to with the greatest curiosity?

One of the post-docs in my lab had started a lab journal club when I joined, and this journal club has been a highlight of my graduate program experience. We meet once a week to discuss papers in social epigenetics and support each other in our research progress. I think that journal clubs, in general, are such a great part of research because you can think critically about work that is currently taking place. I also attend a journal club that is a Medical Genetics course that I took in first year. It is open to everybody, and although the papers discussed may be technically distant from my own work, I love to see the familiar faces and discuss new topics.

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

I think that doing an undergraduate thesis with four other classmates helped me prepare for graduate work - having others to communicate with, and bounce ideas off of, in this thesis project helped remove much of my fear surrounding asking questions. Additionally, this project helped me understand that science does not always make sense, that it takes a lot of trial and error, and that this is just part of the fun!

What do you like to do for fun or relaxation?

When I felt myself burning out from school and research, I took a little break for myself and was able to return to the activities that bring me relaxation and joy. These activities range from bike rides (which are a big treat when you live in Vancouver) to exploring different avenues of art. Lately, my interest has turned to tattooing, which is something I took up around May when one of my friends in my cohort bought a tattoo gun online to give us matching cohort tattoos. Having a creative outlet and going through the process of learning something from scratch in a more artistic, rather than scientific, way helps me decompress from all the analytical thinking that I do with my research. Besides tattooing, I also enjoy dreaming up sewing projects and other graphic design-related activities.

What advice do you have for new graduate students?

My advice to new graduate students is to not be afraid of asking a (possibly self-perceived) excessive amount of questions. I had realized that if you do not know something, there is likely at least one person that may be able to help you, and asking around never hurts. You can save a lot of time by shooting a message to seniors in your lab, to your supervisor, your program coordinator, your peers, etc. I also really encourage new graduate students to engage in research fields outside of their own - I learned a lot about research in the humanities by participating in the 3-minute thesis, and seeing how students at UBC pursue knowledge in these far-reaching ways was wonderful and inspiring.

Outside of your academic work, what are the ways that you engage with your local or global community? Are there projects in particular that you are proud of?

Currently, one of my favourite ways of engaging with my local community is by volunteering with the BC Crisis Centre as a Youth Educator. I facilitate 90-minute workshops that introduce mental health and self-care concepts to youth in grades 6-12. It can be easy for me to lose myself in the small details of my research sometimes, and having these workshops twice a month allow me to ground myself by connecting with school counsellors, teachers, and youth. I feel inspired to hear about how youth perceive mental health topics, and when students feel comfortable confiding in me about the stressors that they are facing, I feel like the work that I am doing is making a positive impact. This work reminds me of the importance of social communities - not only among youth but among adults and the graduate community as well.


Read tips on applying, reference letters, statement of interest, reaching out to prospective supervisors, interviews and more in our Application Guide!