A day in the life of Dan Peach

May 12, 2016

Biological Sciences PhD Student and 2016 Three Minute Thesis winner Dan Peach suggests getting outdoors to unwind and energy drinks to get going again.

About Dan 

I grew up in the Tri-Cities area, though also spent some time in Victoria on Vancouver Island. I stayed close to home for my undergrad, choosing SFU, and ended up getting a degree in environmental science. This provided a great basis for some of the co-op jobs I did during my degree, with Agriculture Canada, and at CABI - a research lab in Switzerland. Once I had completed my undergaduate degree I also spent some time as an environmental consultant at Stantec.

My current research involves studying the relationship between mosquitoes and plants in order to develop mosquito control technologies that take advantage of this relationship.

Why SFU?

While I had opportunities at University of Toronto and others, I chose SFU due to the outstanding quality of research produced by the Gries lab. I worked with Gerhard and Regine Gries during my undergrad and was blown away by the caliber of the work they do and their dedication to their students. It has truly been a privilege to work with them.

Why BC?

It’s called beautiful British Columbia for a reason – there are few other places in the world where we have such ease of access to city life, and nature to the extent we do here in B.C. The weather’s hard to beat as well, I have friends in Toronto, where it hit -7 this weekend – and here it’s pretty much shorts weather for any good Canadian.

Advice for new grad students

If anyone tells you grad school is easy – they are lying. It’s draining, mentally, emotionally and physically.  To succeed, you’ll need to push yourself, and to sound cliché, you need to “give it everything you’ve got.” For me, I found it challenging to take time off to go for drinks with friends, or enjoy the hobbies I did when I was outside of school.

It’s important to take care of yourself. Exercise, take breaks, if you can, find something to take your mind off of school and research.  Get outside of Metro Vancouver and explore the amazing locations we have in this province!

Buntzen Lake

Favorite Places 

  • When I’m studying I do best in a quiet place, filled with natural sunlight – and energy drinks (a vice of mine). This is usually my kitchen table.
  • To unwind I like to head to the John B Neighbourhood Pub, a Coquitlam classic. I highly recommend the Acapulco chicken wrap. Delicious!
  • For hiking I have to fall back on another Tri-Cities favourite – Buntzen Lake. There’s a lot of great trails around there and the scenery is spectacular. Fun fact: If you go up the trails on the east side of the lake you can find yourself in old growth forest!
  • When I can I also like to go fishing. My ideal spot is Port Renfrew on the island, but if I can’t get over there, I’ll make do in the Lower Mainland. Maple Ridge and North Vancouver have a few nice spots.
  • For haircuts Impresario is the best – ask for Rebecca. 


A "typical" day at SFU

Often my day starts out with me feeding the mosquitos – that’s right – it’s MY blood that keeps the colony I use for research going since the females rely on blood to be able to lay eggs!

I’ll often then get to mosquito colony maintenance, sorting the pupae from the larvae, and putting them into separate containers so that they’ll be trapped when they become adult mosquitos, and won’t just fly away.

What I enjoy most is conducting experiments. This trial-and error process can be a bit of an emotional roller coaster of reward and failure, but the end result that I’ve achieved so far is a new mosquito bait and repellent. Now, we are fine tuning these as well as conducting research into mosquitos and pollination.

Next I’ll usually spend a few hours writing papers that I hope to get published. This is key in the publish-or-perish world of academia.

Finally, I’ll head home, where I often do more reading of literature that I can use for my research … or spend some time watching Netflix or playing hockey.

Find out more

  • Where you can find Dan's published work: Profile
  • Where you can reach out to Dan: LinkedIn
  • Where all the mosquito magic happens: Gries Lab

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