Laura Sly hails from Winnipeg, Manitoba where she did her undergraduate degree before pursuing graduate and postdoctoral work in Manitoba, Alberta, and British Columbia. Laura teaches in the Experimental Medicine and Microbiology and Immunology graduate programs. Her research focusses on the contribution of macrophages to inflammation with a special interest in reducing inflammation in immune-mediated diseases, like inflammatory bowel disease. She joined G+PS in 2019 to focus on University-wide policies pertinent to graduate students and postdocs.
Why did you become an Associate Dean in G+PS?
One of my greatest joys is the opportunity to work with graduate students and postdocs. I recognize the extraordinary contributions that these trainees are making at UBC and beyond, every day. As Associate Dean, Academic, I will deal with policies and exceptions to our standard policies and practices. I hope that through this portfolio, we at G+PS can work to enhance the graduate and post-graduate experiences for all of our trainees, and for individuals in special circumstances. This is a great opportunity to show them how much they are truly valued at UBC.
What makes UBC an exciting place for graduate study and for postdoctoral fellows?
For me, the most exciting part of being at UBC is the people and the communities that they have created. We are committed to diversity and that commitment is reflected in the breadth of the scholarly activities in which graduate students and postdocs can participate. This offers tremendous opportunity for trainees to find their passion or to define new roads that are unique and interdisciplinary.
What should students know about G+PS?
G+PS is committed to providing students with the best possible experience that they can have at UBC. Lots of times, students do not seek help outside of their own laboratory or department until a problem arises, but G+PS offers SO many resources to students to enhance and enrich their graduate training and experience. It is absolutely worth familiarizing yourself with the G+PS website (and checking back regularly) to explore services and opportunities that would be of value to you.
What should UBC faculty members know about G+PS?
For me, this is the same answer. As faculty members, graduate students and postdocs are a critical part of our academic activities, training and scholarship, so providing the best possible experiences for our trainees improves our work lives and productivity. It is absolutely worth investing time looking for G+PS-sponsored activities or programs for trainees to enhance their experiences, and for ourselves, to develop and hone our own supervisory skills.
What is one crucial next step in advancing graduate education at UBC?
EDI: equity, diversity, and inclusion. Philosophically, and on paper, UBC is striving for this, but we are not there yet. I think that EDI takes practice and iterative reexamination to recognize deficiencies and push new boundaries. Graduate students and postdocs are great at helping us identify and push those boundaries. Embracing EDI, as we have and will continue to do, makes us a richer, scholarly, academic community.
As a final note, I am thrilled to be working with an extraordinary team of people committed to enhancing graduate student and postdoctoral experiences at UBC. I am excited and grateful for this opportunity and I look forward to work with and for you!