Marie-Soleil Smith

The effects of antiretrovirals on pregnancy outcomes among women living with HIV
Helene Cote

Why did you decide to pursue a graduate degree?

I love to learn and think about questions that lack discernible answers, so it was a natural progression to continue my education and aim to become a full-fledged researcher. I feel so privileged to have found my calling in research, and to be welcomed with open arms into the world of academia.

Why did you decide to study at UBC?

I came to Vancouver in 2013 from a small town in Alberta to pursue my undergraduate studies. I decided to stay at UBC after obtaining my BSc in Microbiology and Immunology because of the incredible research produced by the people here. Not only is the scientific climate saturated with diverse and bright minds, but the professional opportunities available to each student are insurmountable. The research that comes from this institution is of the highest quality and the incredibly driven people I am surrounded by motivate me to aim higher than I thought possible.

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

I love learning about diseases and the different ways you can diagnose, treat, and ultimately cure them. That is what my department does and I am very proud to be a part of it. Interacting with the other students in my department affords me the opportunity to learn about the numerous medical afflictions that could happen to a human, and all the ways we can try and combat them.

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

The proximity and accessibility to everything. Campus is just a short walk away from the ocean and the mountains are just a short drive away. If you like exploring the outdoors this is the place for you. If you’re more of an indoor person, this is also the place for you, since there are so many great cafes where you can submerse yourself in a good book

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

I am excited that there are so many avenues in which can share my findings and spread the knowledge I have gained. In particular, I look forward to inspiring undergraduate students as a teaching assistant. If I can convince even one student to overcome the imposter syndrome that I felt during undergrad, and show them that they are capable of pursuing a scientific career, then I will be satisfied.

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

I was a competitive dancer since the age of five up until the last year of my undergraduate studies. The same amount of work and dedication I put towards rehearsals and competitions in order to succeed is now applied towards my research. I am forever grateful to have learned the importance of ambition, responsibility, and the pursuit of excellence at such an early age.

What do you like to do for fun or relaxation?

There is a great hot yoga studio on campus that I frequently visit. It’s a great way to relax after a long day of mental gymnastics and experiments! I am also a huge fan of 1000 piece puzzles accompanied with a nice warm cup of hot chocolate.

What advice do you have for new graduate students?

Try to get a taste of everything Vancouver and UBC have to offer, in terms of clubs, sports, activities, etc., within the first year of your program. That way, when you get busier with your projects, you know what you like and can focus on enjoying rather than drowning in the numerous options and never actually getting out to have fun.