A day in the life of Amanmeet Garg

May 12, 2016

Engineering PhD student and 2016 Three Minute Thesis finalist Amanmeet Garg talks about moving to Vancouver from India, the three types of people you need in grad school and where to find the best food in Vancouver.

About Amanmeet

I was born and raised by a multi-cultural Hindu Punjabi family in the best city in India. The city is often refered to as "the city beautiful — Chandigarh," and rightfully so! It was developed by the famous French architect Le Corbusier in 1966 and is among one of the best-planned cities of the world. It lies in the foothills of Himalayas and its proximity to the mountains is quite similar to Vancouver.  

I have been a sportsman, playing Judo, swimming, shot-put throw and badminton all my childhood and teenage years. I was also always a natural when it came to mathematics and science. This interest led me to pursue my undergrad in Electrical Engineering at Punjab Engineering College, Chandigarh.

Why SFU?

I was always super interested in biomedical engineering and developed my own portable ECG machine as my undergraduate capstone project (in 2008) when smartphones as we know today were yet to exist.

I chose to come to SFU to be a part of the Department of Biomedical Physiology and Kinesiology's Master of Science program. My decision was based on my desire to work with Dr. Andrew Blaber on the grave problem of postural instability and fainting in the elderly through biomedical imaging. In my pursuit of biomedical imaging, I joined Dr. Faisal Beg's group (in 2011) as a PhD student and have been working on developing imaging biomarkers for Parkinson's disease from brain MRI images.

Why BC?

The biggest asset of this city is its ability to make you feel comforted with its multiculturalism. It’s a relatively new city (130 years old) and fairly sparsely populated in comparison to many Asian, European and South American nations. This goes to its advantage of being very clean, green and accessible, but at times can feel a bit slow (hint: not many late night hang out spots, check NYC).

The transit in this city is amazing and has made my experience in this city a great exploration to say the least. If you happen to be an outdoor lover, like I am, this city is for you with amazing hikes, mountains, islands in near vicinity. I highly recommend checking out the Sea to Sky Gondola.

Vancouver is also probably the safest city to roam around alone by yourself at any time of the day. I can go on and on, but you got to live here to feel it all!

Advice for new grad students

Your grad school journey is as unique as you are. It’s your opportunity to explore and learn. Seek out seniors in the program, and build great relationship with your fellow graduate students, who will be amongst your best teachers and buddies.  As much as grad school is about academic learning and excellence, you must also remember that it's the experience of a lifetime. 

The three types of people you need in grad school:
1) a mentor — whom you trust for advice and will look out for you
2) a buddy — to be your confidante, to grab beer (or food) with, to laugh with, and to rant to
3) a guide — to direct your exploration and learning throughout the program

You will always have times when you need to unwind after a grueling day in the lab or a final project due at midnight. We often tend to forget that focusing on our health only makes our work and life better. For me runs, hikes and photography did the trick — make sure you find your own ways to stay on top of your health. 

At the end, grad school is a journey of self-exploration. Carpe Diem.

Seasons in the Park

Favorite Places 

many coffee shops in Vancouver - Breka’s coffee, Starbucks coffee
SFU downtown library
my couch at home
my desk in the lab

explore the trails around SFU's Burnaby campus
early morning runs at False Creek and English Bay in downtown Vancouver
hike the Grouse Grind
any of the numerous hikes around the city

Via Tevere Pizza
Famoso Pizza
Babylons Café for shawarma
Anton’s Pasta Bar - huge portions!
Seasons in the Park
Stanley Park Tea House
Coal Harbour Cactus Club
Joey’s Burrard

A "typical" day at SFU

I am an early riser, so I get my runs/workouts in at 6 am. Then I leave for campus at 8 am via transit, meaning I get up the mountain by 9 am. 

A few hours of work in front of the computer, coupled with short snacking breaks inbetween, and then it's time for my lunch.

Coffee becomes necessary around 3 pm and it's a great excuse to go for a walk around campus. Luckily, I have the pleasure of knowing many wonderful individuals on campus; I try to have a coffee chat with friends whenever possible.

After a few more hours clocked in the lab working on research, I head home. I usually leave the lab at around 7 pm. 

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