BSc, Molecular Biology & Biochemistry, SFU, 2006
PhD, Pathology & Laboratory Medicine, University of British Columbia, 2012
Medical Science Liaison (Medical Neurology) UCB Canada Inc.
I have come to terms with the fact that I am a bit of a science geek! I developed a passion for science, medicine and health research from a young age and was mentored by several key individuals that helped me find my path, including my aunt who is an SFU alum. For me, SFU was a key stepping stone to a career path and personal growth. The co-operative education and MBB honours programs allowed me to explore future career opportunities and helped me decide that graduate school was the best path to achieve my career goals (despite my non-academic career plans which were pretty rare at the time).
My cooperative education supervisor at QLT Inc, David Hunt, introduced me to my PhD studies supervisor (David Granville - also an SFU alum). Graduate studies at St. Paul’s Hospital/UBC were productive and fun and I furthered my skills working on publications and patents, and made close friendships and developed networks. I joined the executive of the Student Biotechnology Network which is an excellent way to gain insight to the biotech community in BC (I highly recommend it for job seekers!).
After graduation, I trained in Project Search and Evaluation at the Centre for Drug Research and Development, where I worked with investigators looking to commercialize early stage academic drug development technologies. After enjoying clinical consultation work there, I moved on to my current career which is in Medical Affairs, in Biotechnology/Pharmaceuticals. I’ve had the opportunity to work for both large and small companies, in different areas and capacities and am currently in a career I enjoy and feel passionate about. For those students who are unsure of what they want to do or where they will end up, my advice would be to take the opportunities that present themselves (or better yet, make the opportunities), build a strong network and work hard; you will naturally gravitate to what you enjoy and are good at.
Why did you choose to go to SFU?
When I completed high school in Coquitlam, SFU was the local ‘go-to’ university. I had heard good things from family and friends, and attending SFU meant I could stay local while completing my degree. Also the small-university feel, combined with high-quality teaching in smaller class settings were attributes that were important to me. I guess you could say it just felt right at the time.
Where did you spend the most amount of time on campus?
Given I didn’t live at SFU, I spent the majority of my time in the MBB area, AQ or library. Towards the end of my degree we had MBB pub afternoons on Fridays, but for the most part I was studying while on campus!
What is your favorite memory from your time at SFU?
My favourite memory would be my time in the co-op program. I completed two placements (four terms) and got to know other SFU students placed through the program as well. There was a great group running the program and it was a great way for students to build a network and access future job opportunities in BC.
Who was your favorite SFU professor and why?
I had a few favourites, but if I had to pick I’d say Carl Lowenberger. He was a great teacher, taught an interesting parasitology class and had a good group in his laboratory!
How has your SFU degree impacted your career?
SFU was an excellent starting point for my career path. The MBB program was a good introduction to scientific research and the co-op program was a great way to build my network. During a co-op placement, my supervisor at QLT Inc introduced me to my future graduate studies supervisor and my career opportunities grew from there. The co-op program was a great way to gain valuable experience as well as provide opportunities to be mentored, get published and build connections. In addition, the Honours program gave me a taste of what graduate studies would be like before having to commit to future schooling.
What is your favorite SFU snow story?
Not sure how I did it but I somehow lucked out on snowfalls. Seems like everyone had a snowed-in story but I always managed to avoid getting stranded. Loved SFU in the snow!
If you could give advice to students today, what would you tell them?
Long after you’ve graduated, you will likely look back at university as one of the best times in your life. Make the most of it, have fun and work hard. Build lasting friendships and networks. Also, never underestimate the value of work experience and a professional network! School is just one component on your path to career success.
What is the one thing about SFU that must not change?
The small-university, community feel! It was so nice to obtain a high-quality university degree in a more personalized environment. You just don’t see that at a larger university. Long after graduation, SFU alumni stick together and we still feel that sense of community. Also, the excellent cooperative education program really sets SFU apart from other schools.