Seth Tigchelaar

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Seth Tigchelaar was a participant in the 2017 UBC Three Minute Thesis competition, with his presentation, “Biomarkers for Spinal Cord Injury”.

MicroRNA Biomarkers for Acute Traumatic Spinal Cord Injury
Brian Kwon
United States
Why did you decide to pursue a graduate degree?

I have been involved in research since my first year of university at UBC, and even got my first publication in my second year! Since then, I have been hooked on the excitement of discovery. I am surrounded by incredibly hard working researchers that are dedicated to helping a population of individuals who have suffered what is arguably one of the most devastating injuries (SCI). Having the opportunity to work in such a renowned facility like ICORD (International Collaboration on Repair Discoveries), and being surrounded and collaborating with patients themselves provides a sense of fulfillment and responsibility, and I have enjoyed every moment of my PhD.

Why did you decide to study at UBC?

Originally, I am from Michigan but I grew up in Vancouver. I was able to see the contrast in Vancouver's beautiful surroundings, and I hope that I am able to remain in Vancouver throughout my career. I am passionate about the outdoors - camping, hiking, fishing, skiing - and Vancouver has it all! UBC was an obvious choice with regards to its location and I am lucky to be able to study here. On a side note: I see bald eagles flying outside my office window at Pharmaceutical Sciences, daily! You can't beat our view.

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

The Neuroscience program at UBC has some of the world's best researchers. On top of that, the facilities that have been added to our campus for neuroscience research are state of the art! ICORD was just built in 2009, the Centre for Comparative Medicine in 2011, Pharmaceutical Sciences in 2012, and the Djavad Mowafaghian Centre for Brain Health in 2014. The DMC is Canada’s largest integrated brain centre, and I think these types of facilities contribute to the world-class researchers (and research) that we have at UBC and I am incredibly lucky to be able to conduct my research at all four of these facilities.

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

I enjoy the freedom and independence of graduate research. While we probably work 60 hours a week and more, it is up to me to actually decide when I will work and I love that. If I have an appointment during the week, I can do that and make up time on the weekend! If I need a Monday off, I can make it up another time. I thrive with this style of scheduling as compared to a typical 9-5 job, and I often work far harder, because I love what I do!

What do you like to do for fun or relaxation?

My newest activity for post-experiment de-stressing is fishing! I recently discovered that we have massive Chinook salmon just off of our shores at Point Grey and I can literally catch these beautiful fish, just steps away from UBC. The rare occasions that I have some free time, I head there for a day of fishing.

What advice do you have for new graduate students?

My best advice is to work your butts off and attend as many conferences, research symposiums, poster sessions as possible! We are always presenting our work to a diverse range of people, whether they are not in research at all, or whether they are our supervisors. Having the ability to communicate effectively is very important, and there are so many conferences available at UBC that can be taken advantage of (not to mention prize money!).


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