Why did you decide to pursue a graduate degree?
Addressing many of the most severe problems facing society today requires collaboration between scientists, government, and the private sector. After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in physics (Yale ‘14), I worked as a senior analyst at an economic consulting firm (based first in New York and later in London). At the time, I surmised that a love of physics might bring me back to the world of academia, but I wanted to experience working in the private sector. Those years confirmed that while I wanted to spend several years doing dedicated research in physics, ultimately I hope to combine my experience in physics and the private sector to help bridge those communities.
Why did you decide to study at UBC?
First and foremost, my priority for graduate school was to attend a world-class institution contributing to shaping my field of research. Second, I hoped to find a collaborative research environment that cared about its community. The Stewart Blusson Quantum Matter Institute at UBC is both of those things. SBQMI is a multi-disciplinary institute that fosters a culture of hard work and generosity. There is always someone available to discuss research and offer advice, and I feel fortunate to count many of my colleagues as friends.
What is it specifically, that your program offers, that attracted you?
UBC and SBQMI together offer a unique doctoral experience. As students, we have the support of an eminent Canadian institution, whilst benefiting from a smaller dynamic environment in our day-to-day work. I have access to experts in every field that feeds into my cross-disciplinary research.
What was the best surprise about UBC or life in Vancouver?
I was born in Vancouver, though I moved away when I was young. I would say that the best surprise was revisiting some of my favourite childhood spots as an adult –- our neighbourhood Thai restaurant and bakery are both still here! Rediscovering the city has been such a joy, and I love to walk around Queen Elizabeth and Pacific Spirit Park to see which bits I remember.
What aspects of your life or career before now have best prepared you for your UBC graduate program?
Having spent time in the private sector immediately after completing my undergraduate studies informed how I view graduate school. Although the salary is lower, the flexibility of graduate school is a gift. I’m fortunate to get to dedicate so much time to working through intricate, inherently fascinating problems, while still managing to enjoy the gorgeous BC mountains through hikes, ski days, and trail running.
What advice do you have for new graduate students?
Don’t be afraid to ask lots of questions (scientific or otherwise) of the more senior graduate students when you first arrive.