Why did you decide to pursue a graduate degree?
I was fortunate to experience research during my undergraduate degree, and I really enjoyed it. I am naturally curious and passionate about jellyfish research, so graduate school felt like the correct next step for me. My MSc. was a very positive experience and I was given plenty of opportunities to explore my potential. I quickly agreed to a PhD following this.
Why did you decide to study at UBC?
I originally attended UBC for my undergraduate degree in Oceanography and Biology. I grew up in rural northern Alberta and UBC was reasonably close to my family, but it also had a fantastic reputation in oceanographic teaching and research within Canada. Once I arrived in Vancouver and at UBC, it was difficult to leave! Not only is UBC a beautiful campus with plenty of resources for my research, the city of Vancouver and the surrounding areas suit my personal hobbies, interests, and values.
What is it specifically, that your program offers, that attracted you?
I enjoy being outdoors, especially on the water, so the oceanographic fieldwork is specifically what attracted me to my program. During my undergraduate research, I was fortunate to travel to a field station on Calvert Island on the central coast of BC. It was an incredible experience, especially for someone that grew up in the prairies.
What was the best surprise about UBC or life in Vancouver?
The freedom of activities that are offered year-round. I started SCUBA diving during my undergraduate degree and I remember driving on the sea-to-sky highway to a dive site. The car next to us had skis/snowboards, and the one behind that had mountain bikes. It feels like no matter what you want to do, you can do it anytime of the year. I’ve tried many new outdoor sports since I moved here.
What aspect of your graduate program do you enjoy the most or are looking forward to with the greatest curiosity?
This is my third degree at UBC so I am excited to begin collaborating with some of my international colleagues. My goal is to participate in a few internships to broaden my horizons beyond Canada while keeping my home base here at UBC.
What do you see as your biggest challenge(s) in your future career?
Jellyfish research is a relatively small field, which has already presented some challenges for me. I hope I can increase the representation of jellyfish researchers, especially within Canada in the future. Canada is uniquely situated with the longest coastline in the world, which offers an exceptional opportunity for a variety of fieldwork in a relatively undisturbed environment.
How do you feel your program is preparing you for those challenges?
I work in the Institute for the Oceans and Fisheries (IOF) and the department of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences (EOAS), which are both stocked with award-winning professors. I am consistently inspired to rise to academic challenges and through their example, I feel that I have the required resources and guidance to meet my own goals.
What aspects of your life or career before now have best prepared you for your UBC graduate program?
I left home at 17 years old to attend university. Not only was I young, but I also came from a small town; UBC has 4x my hometown population in undergraduates alone! Because of this, there were many adjustments and steep learning curves early on. Successfully navigating these challenges has given me the confidence to accept many other kinds of challenges.
What do you like to do for fun or relaxation?
I enjoy SCUBA diving, volleyball, and camping. I also like learning new activities, especially outdoors, and I won’t turn down a chance to try something new or take a road trip. I also had many opportunities to travel during my MSc, which has been very enjoyable and is something I hope to continue during my PhD.
What advice do you have for new graduate students?
I would recommend being open to new opportunities, especially those that are outside of your comfort zone. My MSc was packed full of opportunities, which made it a very rich experience. In addition to my research, conferences, courses, and fieldwork, I had other non-academic activities like mentorship programs, STEM outreach in the Arctic, travel, and public engagement through news and radio interviews. I even participated in an international UBC advertisement campaign! My degree passed by so quickly, and I am glad I agreed to try new things when they were offered.