Why did you decide to pursue a graduate degree?
Pursuing graduate studies has been one of my ambitions since my undergraduate. During the early years of my undergraduate studies, I developed an serious interest in the medical applications of pharmacology and genetics and an appreciation of how understanding the molecular mechanisms of underlying human disease can ultimately help us predict, diagnose and treat illnesses. Since then, my fascination with genetic research has not only continued but it has also deepened and shaped my future career plans, and I have become extremely interested and passionate about being a researcher in the genetics field, which was the precursor that led to pursue my graduate studies in medical genetics.
Why did you decide to study at UBC?
UBC is one of the top universities for research and teaching in Canada and around world. As I wanted to unite my background in pharmacology with my research passion and experience in Genetics to pursue my doctoral research in Pharmacogenomics, I found that UBC provides an excellent opportunity to be part of one of the largest Pharmacogenomics networks in Canada, the Canadian Pharmacogenomics Network for Drug Safety (CPNDS), which includes a large team of researchers and clinicians across Canada and internationally that would provide me the support I need to become an expert in the field of Pharmacogenomics. Thus, I believe studying at UBC will not only help me explore concepts and findings in genetics but will also provide me with the opportunity to further discover my hidden passion for this field and prepare myself for my life-long career in genetic research.
What is it specifically, that your program offers, that attracted you?
The Medical Genetics program at UBC is well-known for its rigorousness and the variety of research topics that it provides, from model organisms and epigenetics to population genetics and genetic counselling. I was also attracted by the divergent community of researchers and clinical geneticists in this program, this rich network gives trainees huge opportunities for interacting and building connections with other trainees, researchers and faculty members pursuing different aspects of research within the same field.
What was the best surprise about UBC or life in Vancouver?
I have been really impressed by how beautiful Vancouver is! Being a coastal city close to the ocean and majestic mountains makes Vancouver one of the most livable cities in Canada. Coming from Montreal, I have been surprised by how different the winter season is in British Columbia compared to the east coast. Even during the winter, you will never run out of weekend adventure options!
What aspects of your life or career before now have best prepared you for your UBC graduate program?
Pursuing my MSc degree at McGill University was a huge step that prepared me very well for my PhD at UBC. The lessons that I have learned during my MSc degree did not only help me build a foundation to complete my MSc research but also get prepared for my path to PhD. Pursuing research in human genetics afforded me a great chance to explore the genome and its variation through genetic analyses and provided me with a comprehensive grasp of this field. Beyond learning mere facts and theories, I have also learnt to read and critically evaluate both classical and current research articles. Finally, I was given the opportunity to get involved in multiple research projects and present my research in national and international conferences, which fortified my personal growth and self-confidence in presenting my research to a large audience.
What do you like to do for fun or relaxation?
I love biking around the city and hiking during the summer. I also enjoy playing the piano and solving chess puzzles.
What advice do you have for new graduate students?
Finding the suitable environment for your graduate training is of great importance and has a huge impact on your overall performance and graduate life experience. Make sure to surround yourself with supporting mentors and to get connected with the big community of researchers both inside and outside the department. Also, make sure to give yourself breaks from time to time and dedicate some time for your own hobbies, social life and physical activities. Finally, time management is a key skill that will help you succeed in your graduate studies, mastering it will also help you avoid a lot of unnecessary stress!