David Wakeham

 
Connections between quantum gravity and information
Mark Van Raamsdonk
Melbourne
Australia
 

Why did you decide to pursue a graduate degree?

I love learning, but also discovering new things and explaining them to others — the core activities of a research degree! It's also an exciting time to be doing theoretical physics, with lots of unexpected and fun developments. I wanted to be part of the action!

Why did you decide to study at UBC?

My supervisor is a leading scholar in the field, and part of the Simons Foundation It From Qubit collaboration, an international/interdisciplinary network with nodes all over the world and opportunities for travel and research. UBC also has a great reputation for graduate study. Last but not least, Vancouver is an amazing city and a great place to live.

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

I had heard all about the rain, but arriving in August, the weather was unexpectedly mellow and sunny! Great weather for exploring the city and surrounds before term began. I've also been pleasantly surprised by the number of used bookstores in and around Vancouver.

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

I'm looking forward to the comprehensive exam. In physics, preparing for the comprehensive involves conceptual/quantitative mastery of a broad range of core topics, a sort of lingua franca shared by different subfields of physics. The idea is to make sure you are a well-rounded physicist who can speak to colleagues in other areas. I think this is a worth goal!

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

Before moving to UBC, I did an MSc in particle physics at the University of Melbourne. Being part of that research community — and seeing how theoretical physicists collaborate, troubleshoot, critique, and generate new ideas — was a great way to prepare for the program here.

What do you like to do for fun or relaxation?

I'm an avid reader of literature and nonfiction, and spend a lot of time (not to mention money) fossicking for books. I also enjoy drawing and hiking, two activities that can be profitably combined.

What advice do you have for new graduate students?

Having a good work-life balance is essential to being successful! Taking breaks helps you recharge and stay enthusiastic about your research.