Sarah Victor

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This student profile has been archived and is no longer being updated.

Faculty of Arts
Elisha Klonsky
United States
Killam Doctoral Scholarships

Research Topic

Non-suicidal self-injury and emotional experience

Research Group

Personality, Emotion, & Behaviour Laboratory (PEBL,

Research Description

My research focuses on non-suicidal self-injury, such as cutting or burning, and the psychological experiences that go along with these behaviours. I am interested in how and why some individuals begin to self-harm, while others do not, and what factors influence those who continue to engage in non-suicidal self-injury while others stop. To date, my research has focused on the emotional experiences of individuals who self-harm, in order to investigate how these experiences might be different from those of people who do not have a history of non-suicidal self-injury. I hope to continue my work on emotional experiences in non-suicidal self-injury, as well as conduct additional research investigating how personality influences whether an individual starts or stops self-harm. I am also interested in the functions of non-suicidal self-injury (that is, why people engage in self-harm) and how these functions might change over time.

What do you hope to accomplish with your research?

Non-suicidal self-injury is an increasingly common behaviour, but is still very much understudied and misunderstood. By investigating how emotional experiences and personality influence non-suicidal self-injury (and vice versa), I hope to not only improve scientists' understanding of non-suicidal self-injury, but also to generate research that is useful to clinicians treating individuals who engage in self-harm.

What has winning a major award meant to you?

Winning the Killam Doctoral Scholarship has been a fantastic experience. Most importantly, receiving this award helped remind me that the work I have done and will continue to do is valuable and respected, and that UBC believes in supporting my research endeavors. Additionally, receiving this award permits me to focus my energies on continuing research progress, without worrying about the financial burden of my graduate program.

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

As an international student, I was worried about meeting new people and making friends in not only a new city, but also a new country! I was lucky to be surrounded by a group of amazing graduate students who entered my program when I did, and they have been a very important part of my graduate school experience.

Why did you decide to study at UBC?

Pursuing a graduate degree at UBC allowed me to work with leaders in my area (clinical psychology) as well as my field (non-suicidal self-injury). The expertise and mentorship of my supervisor, Dr. Klonsky, was a large factor in my choice to attend graduate school at UBC; this decision was supported by the fact that UBC has an internationally-known psychology graduate program in which students and faculty form friendly and collaborative relationships.


Why did you decide to pursue a graduate degree?

As an undergraduate at Stanford University, I worked as a research assistant in a laboratory studying mood and anxiety disorders. My experience with research was fascinating; it was incredibly exciting to see the field moving forward and to be able to contribute to that progress. I knew that I wanted to continue in the field of research; pursuing a graduate degree was an essential step to pursue a career in research.

What advice do you have for new graduate students?

As a graduate student, it is easy to be focused only on activities, events, and opportunities within your department. I think it's very important to seek out opportunities outside of your program; this could be volunteer opportunities, student groups, or research collaborations, but I think it is important to be able to meet people in a variety of settings when you're new to a place as large as UBC!