Due to the existence of cell walls, stately trees and other greenery are able to grace our planet. Cell walls are classified in two major groups, primary and secondary cell walls. When the primary cell wall is complete and the cell has stopped expanding, the plant cell starts producing a secondary cell wall. My PhD research investigates the transcription factors involved in regulation of secondary cell wall synthesis in the model of the plant Arabidopsis thaliana. Ovate Family Proteins (OFPs) are a plant-specific family of regulatory proteins. We have observed that some OFP proteins can form a functional complex with KNAT7 to negatively regulate secondary cell wall formation. Therefore, I mainly focus on the functional analysis of the OFPs using forward genetic and reverse genetics methods. I also try to use the traditional genetics screen to look for suppressors of the OFP1 protein.
What do you hope to accomplish with your research?
Formation of a secondary cell wall requires a very complex network of transcriptional regulation. I hope I can reveal the function of Ovate Family Proteins involved in secondary cell wall formation. Ultimately, I hope to expand our understanding of the complex transcriptional networks.
What has winning a major award meant to you?
I can totally focus on my research to explore new things in my research interests. Moreover, I do not need to worry as much about my finances for my life here in Vancouver. Living expenses in Vancouver can be quite high, so winning the award is really helpful.
What was the best surprise about UBC or life in Vancouver?
Living in Vancouver is so much fun. I like the food and outdoor activities like hiking so much. In Vancouver, it is possible to enjoy food from countries from all over the world including India, Malaysia, Japan, Korea, and many others. And the natural beauty of Vancouver exceeds what I imagined. Vancouver's hikes combine exercise with gorgeous scenery and the great outdoors.
Why did you decide to study at UBC?
Initially, a good friend encouraged me to study at UBC based on the friendly population and the livability of the city of Vancouver. Furthermore, with a world renown reputation, UBC has advanced teaching and research facilities in addition to some of the best scholars and researchers around. Programs at UBC allow students to fully develop their potential.
What advice do you have for new graduate students?
Look for the place to live in Vancouver as early as possible. When the academic term comes, the housing nearby UBC is always popular. If you want to find a nice place to live, it's better to prepare early. Also, there is a lot of rain in Vancouver. Again, it is best to try and prepare yourself for the weather here if you can. Finally, it is better to speak with your supervisor and try and prepare for your research before you arrive. Then, when you start your studies, the pressure of research will not be as great.