John Shin

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Lipid signaling
Dr. Christopher Loewen
Korea, Republic of
Why did you decide to pursue a graduate degree?

I did a directed studies project in a lab during my undergrad and have been hooked on research ever since. I can think of no other career more stimulating. Research is never constant and never repetitive. Every day brings a new question to explore and a new challenge to work through. I also love teaching and together academia seems like a great fit for me.

Why did you decide to study at UBC?

I was interested in research on fundamental mechanisms of how cells work using a powerful and robust model organism that did not entail any animal cruelty. I was also looking for a supervisor doing quality research who placed on emphasis on student learning. Dr. Loewen's lab at UBC met and surpassed all of these requirements. Moreover, the Cell and Developmental Biology graduate program I am in was very compelling because of its multidisciplinary focus.

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

I was surprised at how easy graduate studies is compared to undergrad. Although the difficulty of the material is increased significantly compared to undergrad, it is easier because you are studying topics you are passionate about which require thinking and creativity rather than rote memorization (I hated this the most about the style of teaching in most undergrad courses I have experienced).

What do you hope to accomplish with your research?

Cells constitute life and therefore I would like my research to contribute to a better understanding of how cells function in order to increase our understanding of how life works. Moreover, basic discoveries of how cells function are usually the starting point for research into numerous applications, such as medicine, agriculture, industry, etc. Lastly, I hope my research gives me the tools to become an investigator myself one day.

What has winning a major award meant to you?

Simply put, success as a grad student and as a scientist is directly linked with the amount of time you put into the lab. Most students struggle with this because modest graduate salaries and the cost of tuition requires them to TA or find part-time jobs to make ends meet. My NSERC Canada graduate scholarship has truly facilitated my success because it has allowed me to focus my entire attention on my research.

What advice do you have for new graduate students?

Work hard, play hard. It is natural and absolutely necessary for grad students to work long and ungodly hours to be successful. However, you need to balance this with having a phenomenal time in your few free moments to prevent from burning out. Luckily, Vancouver is a beautiful city so it's not hard to find ways to relax and have fun.


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