Why did you decide to pursue a graduate degree?
Over the past ten years my education and work-related experiences have cultivated my passion for microbiology and studying bacterial ecosystems. I have a passion for exploring the commensal relationship between our gastrointestinal microbiota and the development of our immune system. This enthusiasm drove me to pursue a PhD with a desire to share this knowledge and passion with others through my future aspirations of teaching as an instructor, and continuing research within this field.
Why did you decide to study at UBC?
UBC has an excellent Microbiology & Immunology graduate degree program. I was able to find many excellent researchers and world-renown faculty that I would be interested in working with, with projects that were fascinating to me. As a University, UBC has an international presence, as well as a beautiful campus.
What is it specifically, that your program offers, that attracted you?
The department of Microbiology & Immunology is a strong community, and offered a lot of support for me when I began inquiring about the PhD program. The department staff were very helpful, especially the graduate advisor and program coordinator. Their guidance was key in making my final decision to apply.
What was the best surprise about UBC or life in Vancouver?
The best surprise about UBC was the beautiful flowering plants that take over campus in the spring. The best surprise about Vancouver was being able to bike year-round.
What aspect of your graduate program do you enjoy the most or are looking forward to with the greatest curiosity?
I really enjoy teaching and mentoring students, both lecturing in classroom settings as well as one-on-one lab training and teaching. I hope that I can spend more time mentoring students during my degree.
What aspects of your life or career before now have best prepared you for your UBC graduate program?
I first became excited about microbial ecology while completing a Bachelor of Science at Kings University in Edmonton, through an independent research project identifying and examining bacteria discovered in petroleum contaminated soils. Following graduation, I joined Exciton Technologies Inc., a research and development company producing silver-based wound care products for treating multi-drug resistant wound infections. I was advised while at Exciton to consider furthering my education and enrolling in a graduate degree. I joined Dr. Benjamin Willing’s lab at the University of Alberta to complete a Master of Science studying the impact of husbandry practices in the development of the gastrointestinal microbiota, Salmonella infection resistance, and immune response in broiler production. While conducting my principal thesis research, I collaborated on an additional project investigating the effects of excess dietary vitamin B12 on an infectious colitis model in mice, which ignited my passion for studying the gastrointestinal microbiome in health and disease.
What do you like to do for fun or relaxation?
I spend a lot of my free time with my 1-year old dog Jack, going on walks, hikes, and to the beach. Additionally, during the summer I like to go kayaking and sailing, exploring False Creek and English Bay.
What advice do you have for new graduate students?
Take advantage of all of the networking opportunities that the department creates, and make sure to take all opportunities to present your research in front of your peers and faculty. The practice will be critical for your future success, and creating a broad range of relationships becomes very helpful while learning new skills in your research.