Why did you decide to pursue a graduate degree?
I chose to pursue a graduate degree in animal biology, as I have always had a major passion and interest in animals! During my undergraduate degree at the University of Guelph, I was fortunate enough to work with a variety of different lab groups form pigs, to beef cows and eventually dairy cows. I loved the idea of dedicating my life to improving the health and welfare of animals in production systems. I specifically chose to focus on the health of dairy cows, as I have always been fascinated by the physiology of ruminants and the complexity of these animals. I am also captivated by all the technological advancements in the dairy industry. From automated milking robots, to wearable “fit bits” for cows that tell us their daily activity, rumination and eating times, monitoring and predicting health events of these animals has never been more interesting! My goal is to pursue a career in academia and one day become a professor. I love speaking on topics I’m passionate about and love being able to connect and interact with others (all while still getting to pursue my research interests).
Why did you decide to study at UBC?
I chose to pursue my PhD at UBC, as it is an internationally accredited university with a high standard for research. Over the years, I have seen the quality and quantity of research that has come out of the UBC Dairy Facility. Upon visiting and touring UBC and UBC Dairy in 2019, I loved the atmosphere here and was so impressed with the students, staff and facilities UBC has to offer. I loved how involved the students at the UBC Dairy were within the actual farm. Students were helping milk, chase cows, cleaning pens. I loved the idea of being a student here and getting to be a key member/ contributor to the dairy farm itself! I am originally from Ontario, Canada and the thought of moving to the other side of the country terrified me. However, having completed my undergrad and master’s degree at the University of Guelph, I felt like it was my time to branch out, gain new experiences and broaden my network. Having recently just completed my first year of my PhD program at UBC, I can now say without a doubt, that this was the best decision I made for myself!
What is it specifically, that your program offers, that attracted you?
My program and specifically, my advisor, Dr. Ronaldo Cerri, offered me the opportunity to design my own research projects, to gain teaching experience and to expand my knowledge and practical skills in the farm and lab. I have learned so incredibly much already in just my first year of my PhD program. My department, Land and Food Systems, and my advisor, Dr. Cerri, has been extremely supportive and inclusive, making me feel so happy and lucky to have been accepted here.
What was the best surprise about UBC or life in Vancouver?
The best surprise about UBC is how beautiful it is, and all the amazing people it attracts from all over the world! I have met so many amazing people from Brazil, to France, to Iran. UBC brings people from all different backgrounds and cultures together, creating such an enriching experience! I can now say I have friends and a place to stay all over the world
What aspect of your graduate program do you enjoy the most or are looking forward to with the greatest curiosity?
I love being in the farm with the cows collecting data and assisting with other ongoing projects! I am excited to begin my commercial study in a few months, where I will get to go out to dairy farms across the Fraser Valley and interact with producers and industry members.
What do you see as your biggest challenge(s) in your future career?
The biggest challenge with wanting to pursue a career in academia, is finding a professor job in such a specific field. Not many universities in Canada have an animal science department and there are often limited job postings/positions available.
How do you feel your program is preparing you for those challenges?
I feel my program is preparing me for this competitive job market by giving me valuable teaching and research experience to hopefully set me apart from other candidates. Working with Dr. Cerri in his current lab group has allowed me to meet with professors from all over the world. I am hoping that through collaborations, networking and publishing in both academic and non-academic sources, in four year’s time, my name will be well recognized and respected and worthy of a professor position.
What aspects of your life or career before now have best prepared you for your UBC graduate program?
Prior to my commencement of my PhD at UBC, I completed my master’s degree at The University of Guelph under Dr. Trevor DeVries. This experience further ignited my passion for research in dairy and I truly hope I can be half as good as an advisor as Dr. DeVries was to me. The courses and professors at UofG challenged me to always think methodically and taught me the importance of producing unbiased, high quality research. Having completed both my undergraduate and graduate degree at The University of Guelph, Guelph will always be my home and the beginning to the best chapters of my life.
What do you like to do for fun or relaxation?
In my spare time, I love to hike and explore beautiful B.C. with my fiancé and my dog, Winston. I also love to curl up on our patio with a good book and my bunny Elsa
What advice do you have for new graduate students?
Do what you love, and you will never work a day in your life! Follow your passions and stay true to yourself. Avoid taking a certain path just because it seems more convenient, do what’s best for you and what will benefit you the most in the future!