Rebecca Sherbo

 
Finding ways to use renewable energy to power chemical reactions
 
Why did you decide to pursue a graduate degree?

I had really enjoyed doing my undergraduate degree in chemistry, but I wanted to do applicable science where I could make a difference. I began to realize toward the end of my degree that chemistry wasn’t just abstract but was really useful and at the core of so many technologies. I learned more about the relevance of chemistry for renewable energy and decided I wanted to do research in that area.

Why did you decide to study at UBC?

I love living in Canada and Vancouver is such a beautiful city. I was also really interested in the research the Berlinguette group was doing, and the chemistry department at UBC seemed really friendly and welcoming.

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

I liked the focus on research, and that I could apply chemistry to renewable energy. I also liked the well-rounded nature of the chemistry department and how there were so many opportunities for teaching and volunteering. It was really easy to get involved.

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

I was surprised by how beautiful and sprawling the campus was. The beach and the forest are just a couple minutes away from the lab and it was so nice to take breaks walking around and spending time with friends.

What aspect of your graduate program do you enjoy the most or are looking forward to with the greatest curiosity?

I worked with some really great students in my graduate degree and one of my favourite things to do was brainstorm new ideas and try new things out in the lab. It was so easy to get excited about projects when you work with people of varied backgrounds that can help you try pretty much anything you want to do.

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

I think one of the biggest challenges in my career will be finding ways to translate my research into useable technologies. There are so many challenges that scientists can help with tackling right now but it's important to keep in mind that it takes more than just good science to implement a technology.

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

Our research group was very interdisciplinary so, in addition to doing chemistry, I got to work with chemical engineers which gave me a different perspective. I was also able to work on some patents and start to understand that process.

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

I had some opportunities to pursue undergraduate research and I think it was a really important stepping stone for learning how to do research. That work, as well as my PhD, have taught me to be able to see what big questions are really important and interesting to me, and how to have the vision and follow-through to answer them.

What do you like to do for fun or relaxation?

I loved exploring BC as much as I could while living in Vancouver. I like getting outside and going hiking, cycling and swimming and I like to be by the ocean as much as possible. I also love settling in with a good book.

What advice do you have for new graduate students?

Do research that you’re really passionate about, and be honest with yourself and your supervisor if you need to pivot to feel that passion. There are challenges in research no matter what the field, and the best way to get through those is to know at the end of the day you’re doing something you love.

 
 
 

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