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The PhD program in the Biological Sciences at SFU is an amazing opportunity to challenge yourself as a young scientist and develop the necessary skills to achieve your ultimate career goal. For me, my goal is to become a full-time professor and continue to conduct scientific research. I know this program at SFU will help me get there.

Student Profile: Brett Hodinka

November 06, 2019
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PhD Student in the Department of Biological SciencesFaculty of Science

I am originally from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in the United States. I completed my B.Sc. and M.Sc. at The University of Alabama and Western Kentucky University, respectively. I am currently working under the advisory of Dr. Tony Williams at Simon Fraser University.

WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO COME TO SFU?

I met my advisor, Dr. Tony Williams, at the 2019 Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology conference after presenting my M.Sc. research. After my talk, we spoke briefly on the work he is doing in his laboratory at SFU and my desire to continue my education in the sciences. The rest is history.

TELL US ABOUT YOUR RESEARCH.

Parental care is widely assumed to be costly in that it requires sustained, high-intensity activity sufficient to exact costs of reproduction (decreased survival and future fecundity). However, quantifying how costly parental care truly is has proven difficult. I am investigating the concept of 'programmed' mass loss in European starlings (Sturnus vulgaris) as a physiological adjustment used to cope with increased workload during parental care.

WHAT ARE YOU PARTICULARLY ENJOYING ABOUT YOUR STUDIES/RESEARCH AT SFU?

My work at SFU provides a healthy balance between field and laboratory bench work. This balance provides me the ability to answer scientific questions with ecological context on a wild breeding population of European starlings while paralleling this work with captive studies.

HAVE YOU BEEN THE RECIPIENT OF ANY MAJOR OR DONOR-FUNDED AWARDS?

Upon acceptance to the PhD program in the Department of Biological Sciences at SFU, I was awarded the Graduate Dean's Entrance Scholarship (GDES). This scholarship has provided me with financial support for up to four years of study at SFU.

HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR PROGRAM TO SOMEONE STILL SEARCHING FOR A PROGRAM?

The PhD program in the Biological Sciences at SFU is an amazing opportunity to challenge yourself as a young scientist and develop the necessary skills to achieve your ultimate career goal. For me, my goal is to become a full-time professor and continue to conduct scientific research. I know this program at SFU will help me get there.

DO YOU HAVE ANY ADVICE FOR PROSPECTIVE GRADUATE STUDENTS?

Without trying to scare or discourage you, a PhD program is a full-time commitment and you have to be sure it is exactly what you want. With that said, the most important piece of advice I could give is to not settle. Do not contact 10+ faculty members at various institutions around the nation out of fear of not being accepted to any of them. Generally speaking, the average time to complete a PhD is about 8 years. I repeat, it's a commitment! You want to choose a program, a principal investigator, and a research topic that you are going to enjoy.

VIEW BRETT'S WORK: 

Dr. Williams' Evolutionary and Ecology Lab: tonydwilliamslab.weebly.com

Contact Brett: brett_hodinka@sfu.ca