Mohit Pandey

Exploration of large chemical spaces with deep reinforcement and active learning
Why did you decide to pursue a graduate degree?

Before embarking on my Ph.D. journey in Bioinformatics at UBC, I had the privilege of working in both academic and industry research settings, including at Cornell Medicine and Ipsos Public Affairs. These enriching experiences exposed me to invaluable research practices and provided me with an extensive network of leading researchers in my field. However, amidst these fulfilling experiences, I keenly sensed the need for a more comprehensive and rigorous foundation in research fundamentals. UBC's graduate studies not only offer the precise training I sought but have also proven instrumental in fostering my overall personal growth. It has become an empowering platform that enables me to thrive as a researcher and, more importantly, as an individual.

Why did you decide to study at UBC?

Prior to joining UBC for my Ph.D., I was working in deep learning applications in late-stage drug discovery - particularly with large clinical trials. I had a chance to talk with my supervisor before coming to UBC. He made me realize how even early-stage drug discovery can benefit from advances in artificial intelligence. I think his insights about drug discovery and inspiration were the most significant driving factors in my decision to come to UBC. UBC perfectly matched my specific research interests and my desire to expand my area of expertise in a multidisciplinary environment. There is also prestige associated with earning a Ph.D. from a renowned academic institution like UBC. I had an opportunity to do a research internship at Recursion Pharmaceuticals, where I closely collaborated with members of Prof. Yoshua Bengio’s lab in MILA, Montreal. There was immediate recognition and appreciation by my peers for my affiliation with UBC. However, I am quickly realizing that UBC offers far more than just prestige. It has provided me with exposure to world-class faculty, exciting opportunities for innovative research, and generous funding support (for which I am grateful to the Canadian government and UBC for awarding me a scholarship). Moreover, the university has offered me ample networking opportunities and promising career prospects.

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

Continuing with my desire to study at the intersection of life science and computational research, the bioinformatics program at UBC provides the perfect blend. With renowned researchers from diverse research backgrounds in the same program, it is indeed one of the most unique degree programs offered anywhere.

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

I will use this opportunity to express my affection for British Columbia, particularly Vancouver. It's a harmonious fusion of a naturally enchanting tourist destination and a significant metropolitan city in Canada. Living here feels like experiencing the best of both worlds. From my window, I am greeted by the serene sight of mountains, offering a peaceful scenery. Moreover, what truly thrills me is being a part of a diverse community where all ethnicities are warmly embraced, respected, and supported. Such diversity also means indulgence in culinary delights from all corners of the world. Moreover, Vancouver has become a forever special place for me since I met my wife and we started our first home together here.

Continuing with my desire to study at the intersection of life science and computational research, the bioinformatics program at UBC provides the perfect blend. With renowned researchers from diverse research backgrounds in the same program, it is indeed one of the most unique degree programs offered anywhere.
What aspect of your graduate program do you enjoy the most or are looking forward to with the greatest curiosity?

One of the most fulfilling aspects of my journey at UBC has been the opportunity to collaborate with other researchers. I thoroughly enjoy working with so many bright minds and gaining valuable insights from their expertise. On a lighter note, I am eagerly anticipating my convocation, a dream that every Ph.D. student envisions in a dis.......tant future. I am excited to meet my fellow colleagues who have also reached this milestone after much hard work and dedication. I'm genuinely looking forward to sharing some laughs with them.

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

I have traveled extensively and immersed myself in diverse cultures, I now yearn to settle in a location that aligns with my personality and offers ample research opportunities in my areas of interest. The task of finding the ideal place with the most rewarding work prospects seems like a significant challenge that lies ahead.

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

Working at the intersection of two highly desirable and impactful fields - computational drug discovery and artificial intelligence; has opened up a wide range of job possibilities and research avenues that span across geographies. Thanks to the bioinformatics program at UBC, I am gaining the necessary skills and knowledge to pursue the work that truly captivates me, and in a setting that compliments my personality.

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

Having resided in various countries and attended three different universities, I have encountered a multitude of people with diverse backgrounds. This exposure has led me to a profound realization: there is a wealth of knowledge to be gained from each individual. My time at UBC has been incredibly enriching as I consistently learn from people with varied experiences. Additionally, my past experience at Cornell Medicine working in interdisciplinary life science and computation research enables my graduate research in deep learning and drug discovery. My ability to absorb insights from different individuals and diverse areas of study has undoubtedly prepared me for a fulfilling life at UBC.

What do you like to do for fun or relaxation?

For me, music is the ultimate source of solace. I find relaxation and comfort in the melodies of classic tunes, which help me unwind mentally. I also enjoy playing tennis. Despite the rainy weather in Vancouver, UBC’s indoor tennis courts offer me a means to continue pursuing my hobby. Lately, I have also started to blog about my unpublished research ideas and learnings on my website

What advice do you have for new graduate students?

(i) Explore the great outdoors of BC - BC is one of the most scenic places on our planet. Take full advantage of exploring it while you are here. (ii) Vancouver can be expensive - This follows from (i). Everyone wants to call this place their home. This has driven up the costs of housing and other necessities. Graduate school experience can be difficult if you don’t plan your finances carefully. (iii) Pursue a hobby - Whatever your hobby may be, UBC would have a club dedicated to it. This is an amazing way to socialize while also doing something that you enjoy. It positively affects your graduate school performance as well.

External Links

Mohit's website

Q54. 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?

I consider advice from elderly individuals to be incredibly valuable, as there is a wealth of wisdom to be gained from their life experiences. In India, I am actively involved with a couple of non-profit organizations dedicated to supporting impoverished elderly individuals. This allows me to express my gratitude and give back to the elders for all they have contributed to our lives.


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