Taylor Wright was a finalist in the 2021 Three Minute Thesis competition, with his presentation, "Discovery of Novel Antimicrobial Fabrics."
Why did you decide to pursue a graduate degree?
The idea of pushing the frontier of a specific field in science was what prompted me to pursue a graduate degree. The novelty of doing something no one had ever done before was then, and still is, a great feeling for me.
Why did you decide to study at UBC?
UBC, and the greater Vancouver area, is a wonderful combination of nature, modernity, technology, and multiculturalism that is unrivaled across Canada. Not only is the university wonderful, the research cutting edge, but the city surrounding it provides a sometimes much needed escape from the lab, whether that means exploring new foods or hiking the mountains.
What is it specifically, that your program offers, that attracted you?
UBC Chemistry, and the people I'm working alongside, were very willing to allow me to pursue my own interests. I wasn't forced into a project that I wasn't passionate about, but rather was given the resources and support to chase my own scientific career. Working under the guidance of a professor and faculty whose knowledge spanned such a wide variety of topics, I knew that I would always be welcome no matter where my research led me.
What was the best surprise about UBC or life in Vancouver?
The UBC academic community has been so welcoming and willing to collaborate or discuss research opportunities. My work has taken me all over campus, into many different labs and research facilities, and I have always been warmly welcomed and provided all the time and access to different instruments and people that I could need.
What aspect of your graduate program do you enjoy the most or are looking forward to with the greatest curiosity?
I enjoy collaborating with other researchers in different faculties. This gets me out of my lab, lets me explore campus and meet new people, and provides me a whole host of new opportunities. Working with other specialists lets me take my work so much further than would be possible if I stayed only within the UBC Chemistry department.
What do you see as your biggest challenge(s) in your future career?
I'm prone to chasing new ideas and avenues of research, always willing to jump from project to project. This works great during my graduate career where I am encouraged to research a wide variety of topics, but will need to be reigned in for the future when it might be more important to push one topic to its absolute conclusion rather than start a new project.
How do you feel your program is preparing you for those challenges?
UBC Chemistry provides a number of lecture series, given both by current graduate students and by visiting professors. These lectures give a much needed perspective on my own work, and help to give me something to compare and meter my own progress against.
What aspects of your life or career before now have best prepared you for your UBC graduate program?
I was very fortunate to go on two international internship programs, an industrial placement in the USA and an academic placement in Germany. At these two jobs I did very different types of research, and it helped me to really narrow down what parts of Chemistry I did and didn’t enjoy. This made choosing a direction for my graduate degree much easier.
What do you like to do for fun or relaxation?
I've become friends with many people I've met through UBC Chemistry. We do weekly pub trivia nights, organize board game nights and tabletop roleplaying games, etc. On the rare sunny days, I like to walk the Stanley Park sea wall, go for a hike, or just spend an afternoon walking the downtown and Chinatown areas snacking and running errands.
What advice do you have for new graduate students?
Pick a project that you are passionate about. It needs to be something you are driven to pursue, and not just something you are doing to graduate. If you are genuinely curious about your research topic, you will find the work so much more rewarding.