Angela McLaughlin

Models of infectious disease transmission for HIV and other rapidly evolving RNA viruses
Dr. Jeffrey Joy
Why did you decide to pursue a graduate degree?

After spending several years in the biotech industry after my undergraduate degree, I decided to pursue sequential graduate degrees to gain expertise in genomic epidemiology and bioinformatics in order to contribute to our understanding of how humans and pathogens evolve alongside each other.

Why did you decide to study at UBC?

I had already completed two degrees at UBC—a BSc in Microbiology & Immunology and a MSc in Population and Public Health—before deciding to pursue my PhD in Bioinformatics. I chose to stay because I love the UBC research environment and the lifestyle that living in BC affords.

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

I was drawn to the Bioinformatics program due to its flexibility, growing reputation, and career trajectories.

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

Although I have spent a lot of time at UBC and in/around Vancouver, there are always new discoveries to be found, whether a secluded North Shore hike, urban garden, or hole-in-the-wall cafe. I think people would be surprised to learn that living in Vancouver can be affordable with some lifestyle adjustments.

I chose UBC because I love the UBC research environment and the lifestyle that living in BC affords.
What aspect of your graduate program do you enjoy the most or are looking forward to with the greatest curiosity?

I am looking forward to taking more classes in subjects I find challenging, attending more conferences, and meeting more of my cohort (after COVID restrictions ease).

What do you see as your biggest challenge(s) in your future career?

I anticipate one of my biggest challenges will be to overcome imposter syndrome and have confidence in my skills as a genomic epidemiologist and bioinformatician. Having an interdisciplinary background is both a blessing and a curse.

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

The Bioinformatics program requires students to take professional/personal management courses to prepare them for their careers.

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

I think that having several years of work experience before starting my graduate degrees helped me to develop professionalism, time management skills, and perspective on the job market.

What do you like to do for fun or relaxation?

I spend a lot of time working on my boat, exploring/suffering/playing in nature, and keeping in touch with family and friends.

What advice do you have for new graduate students?

Keep your degree roadmap in the back of your head, but accept that it will continuously change. Ask questions even if you think you will sound stupid. Stay curious. Remember how much of a privilege it is to study freely and deeply.


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