Lulu Pei

Efficacy and adverse side effects of two forms of iron in prenatal micronutrient supplements (EASE-Iron): A randomized controlled trial
Why did you decide to pursue a graduate degree?

I have always been interested in clinical trials, serving as a research participant and as a research assistant during my undergraduate degree. However, I wanted to gain first-hand experience in designing a clinical trial, from doing the background research to identify a knowledge gap, to proposing a topic and securing funding, to applying for ethics approval, to conducting the study and analyzing data, and finally to disseminating the results. I felt that pursuing a graduate degree would be the perfect opportunity to experience all of these stages.

Why did you decide to study at UBC?

I chose UBC for its breadth of research, resources for professional development, and opportunities for collaborations across Canada and internationally as well. Within the department of Human Nutrition, I started working with my current supervisor Dr. Karakochuk in my undergraduate degree and I was really inspired and motivated by the research I was helping with. I wanted to continue this collaboration into my PhD work.

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

I was drawn to the vast diversity of research topics being addressed across the department and the multidisciplinary nature of the entire Faculty of Land and Food Systems. I thought this would be a great place to leverage collaborations with others to increase scope and significance of the research I was conducting and also for continued learning and exploration of new topic areas. I also appreciated the opportunities made available to graduate students to practice teaching skills, including TAships and lecturer positions.

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

Growing up in Vancouver, I’ve always loved the emphasis on active living in the city and I was pleasantly surprised that this was also prioritized at UBC, whether it be walking breaks down to Wreck Beach or UBC Recreation Intramural sports leagues or unwinding sessions in the Nitobe Memorial Garden. I love that the UBC campus is very much integrated into the natural landscape with forests and beaches easily accessible and just a short walk away. I’ve also been fortunate to meet many like-minded individuals with a personal drive for excellence in their work while also prioritizing work-life balance.

I chose UBC for its breadth of research, resources for professional development, and opportunities for collaborations across Canada and internationally
What aspects of your life or career before now have best prepared you for your UBC graduate program?

Growing up as a competitive swimmer, having resilience was an important component to being successful. In graduate studies, and research in general, there are many setbacks to work through and hurdles to jump over. I owe my ability to stay focused and see every opportunity as a learning opportunity for improvement and growth to those long hours of training in the pool. I’ve also got to give a shout-out to my time as a lifeguard and supervisor at the UBC Aquatic Centre for bringing me out of my shell and instilling self-confidence. There I learned effective communication skills with various age groups and authority levels. I strengthened my teamwork and collaboration skills and really enhanced my problem-solving abilities. All of my experiences at the pool made me more comfortable interacting with others, which I believe is a critical component of conducting research and pursuing a future career in academia. Finally, towards the end of my undergraduate degree, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to travel to Cambodia to help with an international nutrition trial. I worked alongside a graduate student to prepare documents and data collection tools for a trial to be implemented in a rural province. I got my first taste of the behind the scenes and what considerations had to be made especially when conducting research in an international context. That experience really sparked my interest in nutrition and specifically conducting clinical trials with the end goal of informing policy.

What do you like to do for fun or relaxation?

I love to take advantage of all the nature that I am fortunate to be surrounded by, whether it be going on hikes, camping, swimming in the ocean, or running through Pacific Spirit Park.

What advice do you have for new graduate students?

Put yourself out there and make connections, both within your area of research and outside – you never know where inspiration and new ideas may come from. Reserve time to explore hobbies and interests beyond the academic world. These activities will be your distraction when times inevitably get tough during your graduate studies and you need a break from your research to regroup.


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