Why did you decide to pursue a graduate degree?
I have been interested in leading a life of the mind since I was a teenager. The world is so wonderfully complex, and pursuing a graduate degree seemed a good way to attempt to unravel a small part of this complexity.
Why did you decide to study at UBC?
My life circumstances brought me to BC after a period of travelling and living abroad, and so when I decided to go back to university, UBC was the logical choice.
What is it specifically, that your program offers, that attracted you?
There is a great philosophy department at UBC that does the sort of naturalistic philosophy of mind and philosophy of cognitive science that I am most interested in.
What was the best surprise about UBC or life in Vancouver?
[The best surprise about UBC was] the other graduate students. It was so great to make connections and friendships with other people doing interesting work. There is a very supportive graduate student community.
What do you see as your biggest challenge(s) in your future career?
There are so many directions in which I could further develop my research program. It's hard to restrain myself to just focusing on one small area at a time.
How do you feel your program is preparing you for those challenges?
Writing a dissertation is an exercise in maintaining incredibly narrow focus for a sustained period of time. It takes a lot of discipline to ignore interesting problems or ideas that aren't part of your core work. I created a file for these things so that I could tell myself that I would come back to these issues later. Maybe I will one day!
What do you like to do for fun or relaxation?
I am a former street artist but these days I like to paint on canvas or draw in my spare time. I also spend a lot of time outdoors hiking.
What advice do you have for new graduate students?
Keep firm boundaries and schedules in place in order to maintain a healthy work/life balance. Go to a lot of conferences and talk to your professors to figure out what areas of research are both interesting to you and promising in terms of eventually getting you a job. If you want to continue on as an academic rather than move into industry, figure out what steps you can take now to make yourself a solid job candidate when you go on the market. Yes, publishing is a big part of that, but so is presenting your work, developing your teaching skills and getting grant funding.
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 gave a presentation on environmental ethics to the Old Growth Strategic Review Panel commissioned by the BC Government. I hope I played some small part in allowing future British Columbians and visitors to view the incredibly beautiful and sacred old growth trees in our province. I grew up reading about Clayoquot Sound in Greenpeace's magazine, so it feels really good that logging there has been deferred, along with several other areas. There is still too much old growth logging going on in BC though. We need to protect the last old growth forests we have left for our children, for tourism, for the benefit of the land.