Q&A with recent Cognitive Science graduate Kat Dolguikh

June 16, 2020

As a star athlete with SFU's volleyball team and lab coordinator of the Cognitive Science Lab, Kat Dolguikh effortlessly juggled her commitments while graduating with a stellar 4.00 grade point average.

This June, Kat Dolguikh will be graduating with a BA Hons with a major in Cognitive Science and a minor in Criminology.

In this Q&A, Dolguikh shares her motivation behind studying Cognitive Science as well as some words of wisdom to the key to her success.

1. Why did you decide to study Cognitive Science?

A lot of people who start out studying Cognitive Science (COGS) may decide to transfer to Psychology, Linguistics, or Philosophy early on after getting a sense of each subject. For me, I stayed in COGS for two real reasons: the flexibility and the interrelatedness. From second year on, I felt like I could really study exactly what I wanted with so many diverse courses to choose from. Plus, it was cool to see how related everything is (Computing Science and Linguistics are more similar than you may think) and how the same concepts can be analyzed in various ways by such different people.

2. Could you tell us a bit about your involvement on campus at a student?

I began volunteering in Dr. Mark Blair's Cognitive Science Lab since my second year. It’s been a great way to get exposed to the research world and to integrate concepts and processes I've learned about in class into real, tangible scientific findings. It has also helped me meet other students in the program. Last summer, I had the opportunity to bring my research project to the Cognitive Science Society conference in Montreal. At this conference, I was able to hear interesting talks from some major researchers in the field and get feedback on my own research. Aside from this, I have played on the SFU volleyball team and was involved in other aspects of the athletic community through tutoring, coaching camps, and being a learning coach for younger athletes.

3. What are your plans after graduation?

I think I speak for most 2020 graduates when I say the pandemic has affected my plans somewhat. I'm hoping to spend the next year or so expanding my research experience, with the longer term goal of applying to a Clinical Psychology or Neuroscience PhD program. I hope to use the computational methods and psychology/neuroscience concepts I've learned in my COGS courses to work on understanding and treating the cognitive markers seen in serious criminal offenders. For now, I'm taking some time to relax and build up my CV.

4. What has been the key to your success? Can you offer any advice or words of wisdom and encouragement to new undergraduate students in your field?

University is a balancing act, and I think it's super important to not take yourself too seriously. It's so easy to get caught up in stress from a difficult assignment, busy schedule, or messy data -but also surprisingly easy to relieve that stress by spending time talking with friends (for example, having an argument about which way you prefer to scroll on a computer which escalates into a lab-wide debate).

Build, maintain, and make use of your support system. For COGS students specifically, I have two pieces of advice: look for connections between your classes and don't be afraid of Computing Science (CMPT). Coming in, I didn't think I would take more than the required first year CMPT classes. Despite it being difficult and time consuming, CMPT classes were the most rewarding - the skills you pick up and the sense of accomplishment when your code finally works are unparalleled.