Your UBC Experience
- CIHR CGS
Your Career Journey and Achievements
I decided that I wanted a career in research during a high school co-op work term and I have never really considered any other options. I joke that I don't have any hidden talents so it was science or bust. I consider myself incredibly lucky to have my dream job as a professor running a lab full of talented undergraduates, graduate student, post-doctoral fellows and technical staff. I acknowledge that I wouldn't have got where I am if I hadn't had such excellent mentors during each stage of my career. Bob Hancock was always so great at pushing me to be better and promoting and supporting me when I was in his lab and after I left. I remember being awed the first time I heard him teach and speak to a reporter. Listening to his enthusiasm and clarity taught me that being able to communicate my science was as important as doing the science. I think that the ability to communicate what I do to audiences ranging from lay people to scientific colleagues has probably helped advance my career. I'm on the Board of Directors for the Lung Association - Ontario and I often get called upon to speak to donors, policy makers or those living with lung health issues and I really enjoy explaining the importance of research to broad audiences. There are certainly challenges to running an academic research lab- I spend more time writing grants/begging for money than I would like as an example, but the joy of scientific discovery and the pleasure of mentoring the next generation of scientists is definitely worth it. One thing I didn't realize when I was younger but I appreciate now, is the ability to balance work and family with this job. Being in control of my time gives me the opportunity to attend school plays and events and be at home when I need to. I may work a lot but at least I get to choose when I work!
Advice to current students
My advice to current students is to enjoy your time. Even though I worked a lot during my PhD, I still remember those days as some of the happiest and most care-free of my life. I loved what I did so much and I loved the close-knit friendships I had in the lab that it never really felt like work. Vancouver is a great city to be young in so make sure you see as much of it as possible.
Ph.D./Microbiology & Immunology
Ph.D. supervisor: Dr. Bob Hancock
- University of Oxford, 2008, Postdoctoral Fellow
- University of Guelph, 1999, Bachelor of Science