Why did you decide to pursue a graduate degree?
I took Intro Psych as a first-year undergraduate student, and loved the subject matter. After that, a combination of taking higher-level psychology courses, working in two research labs, and conducting a senior honor thesis, confirmed to me that I wanted to think about and research people and how they behave for a living. I also love to write, and graduate school involves lots of writing - papers, grants, etc. - so I enjoy that part of it.
Why did you decide to study at UBC?
I applied to UBC primarily for the opportunity to work with Dr. Jess Tracy, my research supervisor. I had enjoyed learning about Jess' work while completing my undergrad degree, and my undergrad advisers told me that Jess was an outstanding mentor who would help me begin a productive research career. UBC’s social-personality psychology area is also full of faculty members conducting some of the best research in social-personality psychology.
What was the best surprise about UBC or life in Vancouver?
The food culture in Vancouver is great. I went to school in the American Midwest, so coming to Vancouver introduced me to many new ethnic food varieties. I love walking down Broadway and seeing Thai, Middle-Eastern, Indian, Greek, etc., plus about 100 sushi places, which are all delicious. I also run somewhat competitively, and Vancouver has many great trails for running, as well as a welcoming community of adult runners and many fun races.
What do you hope to accomplish with your research?
My research - and most social science research - is funded by tax payers, so I hope it can have a positive, pragmatic, effect on people. Hopefully, people who read about social science research in journals or media outlets will be able to think of some way to apply the findings to their daily lives, maybe to change the way they behave, or just to get a better understanding of the reasons for their behavior.
What has winning a major award meant to you?
It has given me the financial security to enjoy the next four years in Vancouver. I can pursue the research that I love wholeheartedly without worrying about applying for funding, or getting other sources of funding, such as teaching assistantships. I can also dive into my other running hobby, knowing that I will get to be part of the Vancouver running community for the next four years. That's a special treat.
What advice do you have for new graduate students?
Immerse yourself in your field's research literature. Succeeding early in graduate school often involves taking advantage of opportunities that arise without advance notice, such as analyzing some data that your lab has collected, or helping to write a paper that is part of a larger lab project. The more familiar you are with existing research and theories in your field, the more prepared you will be to turn these opportunities into finished research products.