Raelyn Sullivan

 
Studying the effects of our motion on observations of the universe at the largest scales
Douglas Scott
Calgary
Canada
 
Why did you decide to pursue a graduate degree?

I decided quite young to pursue research as a career. I was first exposed to the local observatory (the Rothney Astrophysical Observatory near Calgary, Alberta) when I was 13 years old, and thereafter attended their open houses hosted every month. There, I heard about all the different research that people were working on, and got to look at the stars though a wide range of telescopes. I also got to talk to people who were doing research as a job and I decided then that that was what I wanted to do when I was older. After an undergraduate degree in astrophysics with a number of summer research projects I found it was an easy step into graduate studies in astronomy.

Why did you decide to study at UBC?

Choosing a University to study at is not easy, especially when you have many good offers. What puts UBC above other institutions is both the amazing area, and the people. Vancouver is a wonderful (though expensive) city, with opportunities to participate in so many activities. There is a joke that you can go from skiing on a mountain to skiing in the ocean within a few hours, and it’s true! This means that people are very well balanced, excited to come to work and do incredible research, but also able to go out and enjoy the great outdoors when the weekend hits. The broad range of research also meant that there was a compatible position for my partner at the University as well, which made the choice very easy.

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

The astronomy department at UBC is very close knit, with lots of opportunities to get involved in a wide range of research topics. There are also many cosmologists, with people working on CHIME, Planck, Bicep/KECK, and ranging from theorists to instrumentalists. As a graduate student, you want to be able to gain as much experience in various areas as possible, and UBC is perfectly suited for just that.

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

The best surprise about UBC was how many people are involved in so many activities. I also love the shoulder seasons out here, the fall is gorgeous with all the orange and red leaves, and it stays warm enough that you can really enjoy it. The spring has so many beautiful flowers, just as one flower starts to wilt another one will start to bloom.

What puts UBC above other institutions is both the amazing area, and the people. As a graduate student, you want to be able to gain as much experience in various areas as possible, and UBC is perfectly suited for just that.
 
What aspects of your life or career before now have best prepared you for your UBC graduate program?

Doing research over the summer was absolutely crucial for me to know both that I like research, and what kind of group I worked best with. You learn so much about how to read academic papers, how to write, and how to actually perform research in your field. After doing summer research, the classes I took made more sense and felt more applicable, and I approached learning with a more directed and active attitude.

What do you like to do for fun or relaxation?

I love to hike and boulder when I'm feeling physically active and pursue astrophotography and piano as a hobby. I am also a fan of fantasy novels and relaxing on the beach.

What advice do you have for new graduate students?

I would recommend new students talk to as many students and professors as possible before settling on a supervisor. The research topic is important but the style that you do research has to work well with the style of your supervisor. I work well with schedules and regular meetings and set that up with my supervisor early on.

 
 
 

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