BPK Grad Mentorship: Making Science Happen
Look at you! Making it through your BPK degree with class and finesse but the big question in your mind is: now what?!
Grad studies is a huge field to enter and everyone has questions. So why not direct those questions towards someone with the experience? Why should you become a grad student, what careers a grad degree lead you to, how to sign up and choose a project?
These are all questions that you can ask to one of our very own BPK grad students, take a look below!
Why not take the guess work out of your future and make science happen!
BPK Research Mentorship
Have you ever considered volunteering or doing a project in a research lab? If you think you’d like to pursue a graduate degree or a career in research, then getting yourself into a lab is the first step. A graduate degree is a 2-5 year commitment so its better to find out if you even enjoy research first! However, it is not always easy to find out what research is going on in the BPK department and it can be daunting to ask a Professor if you can work in their lab. There is huge diversity in the research being conducted in BPK but you do not always get the chance to see what is going on beyond the lab doors.
This mentorship program matches you with a BPK graduate student mentor who can help introduce you to research and the graduate program. You will be matched with a mentor whose research is of interest to you, and you can see some of the inner workings of life in the lab. Your mentor can also help you network with other graduate students and Professors if you want to find a position as a volunteer, Directed studies or Honours student, or even a future grad student. We are purposely leaving the scope of the mentorship open so that you can discuss with your mentor what you would like to learn and get out of the program.
Q: What is it like to be a grad student in BPK?
A: In a thesis based graduate program such as in BPK, Master’s and PhD students have their own research question that they are trying to answer. Unlike a coursework based program, you are not specifically taught information, but rather you have to opportunity to go out and seek answers yourself. Projects are largely self directed, with the help and guidance of your supervisor.
Q: What do grad students do all day?
A: This can vary greatly depending on the day and the project. For the most part you are in charge of making your degree successful, and its up to you to decide how to do that. A typical day could include lab work, computer analysis, writing papers, planning experiments, applying for funding, attending meetings with your lab or supervisor, preparing presentations, attending conferences, teaching, or doing literature searches. Likely a grad student will do all of these things at some point.
How the program will run:
Placements are flexible and it is up to graduate student and undergrad to decide how this mentorship works, so there are varying levels of commitment from the undergraduate and graduate students. Examples could be:
1) Mentorship only: This may include casual meetings, answering questions.
2) Mentorship with research experience: This may include general mentorship, introduction to lab protocols, shadowing, hands-on experience with research procedures, literature search, written project.
Grad mentor profiles:
Lab and supervisor: Neuromuscular Mechanics Lab – James Wakeling
What my lab is working on: Muscles! Our lab takes a unique and integrative approach to studying muscle function; from levels of isolated muscles in animal models and multi-muscle studies in man, to computational modelling and dynamic simulations of human movement. Our lab strives to answer fundamental questions about muscle and its role in animal and human movement.
What I am working on: My work is primarily focused on using non-invasive measures of muscle performance (imaging muscles with ultrasound, and recording electrical activity using EMG) during dynamic tasks such as cycling. I have a keen interest in creating computer simulations of the muscular and skeletal systems to compare predicted muscle forces from these models to those I measure experimentally. Computer simulations of human movement have broad application in rehabilitation, clinical, research, and even sports settings, but have never ever been validated against experimentally measured forces.
Lab and supervisor: Cancer Genetics Lab – Angie Brooks-Wilson
What my lab is working on: Our lab studies the genetics of lymphoid cancers and healthy aging.
What I am working on: I work on our healthy aging project using a cohort of “Super-Seniors”, aged over 85 and never diagnosed with any major diseases. I am looking for genetic factors that have contributed to their exceptional health and longevity using DNA and RNA sequencing.
Lab and supervisor: Aging and Population Health Lab – Dawn Mackey
What my lab is working on: Research in the Aging and Population Health Lab investigates the prevention, etiology, and management of age-related mobility impairment and disability. This includes the study of acute events such as falls and osteoporotic fractures as well as chronic processes such as fatigue and impaired gait energetics. Research in the lab incorporates techniques from epidemiology, biostatistics, energetics, and clinical research. Ultimately, our research seeks to identify and disseminate effective strategies for successful population aging through maintenance of mobility and functional autonomy.
What I am working on: My doctoral research focuses on evaluating compliant flooring for fall injury prevention in long-term care through the Flooring for Injury Prevention (FLIP) Study (4 year clinical trial). Sub-projects include: an ergonomic evaluation of flooring systems within long-term care and a scoping review on the literature of flooring systems to prevent fall-related injuries. Research interests: aging, falls, fall injuries, gerontology, clinical trials
Lab and supervisor: Cardiovascular Physiology Lab – Victoria Claydon
What my lab is working on: Our lab tests the cardiovascular system in a variety of patient populations. Current research includes work with patients with spinal cord injury, as well as more basic physiology research into the mechanisms underlying short-term control of blood pressure.
What I am working on: I am interested in the carotid baroreflex, the reflex that is primarily responsible for maintaining blood pressure when you stand from a sitting or lying position. We are currently performing research looking at different ways to stimulate this reflex, such as carotid sinus massage and carotid sinus stimulation via air pressure.
Lab and supervisor: Molecular Cardiac Physiology Group – Glen Tibbits
What my lab is working on: Your heart is pretty important, because without it you would die. It does a whole bunch of stuff in a really carefully orchestrated fashion in order to work the way it does, and that’s pretty cool. Sometimes things go wrong, and that is less cool, because that can also make you die. We would like to figure out how to identify these things and then fix them.
What I am working on: There is this incredible technique where you can take terminally differentiated cells like blood, or skin, or whatever, and then jam some transcription factors into these cells and basically turn them into stem cells. Then you can take these new stem cells and turn them into whatever you want. It’s pretty rad, and we turn them into heart cells so we can study various dysfunctions. The problem with this whole deal is that the cells that are generated through this method aren’t very mature – they are more similar in their function to neonatal cells. This makes studying conditions that only manifest in adulthood difficult. I am trying to figure out how to make these cells more like adult cells.
Lab and supervisor: Cancer Genetics Lab – Angie Brooks-Wilson
What my lab is working on: Studying the genetics of healthy ageing
What I am working on: I am studying how the variants of personality related genes impact healthy ageing.
Lab and supervisor: Aerospace Physiology Lab – Andrew Blaber
What my lab is working on: I do computer and math stuff for cardiovascular science.
What I am working on: I like signal analysis, Matlab. I am working on projects about the phase of signals, analyzing seismocardiograms, modelling seismocardiograms, and doing wavelet transforms.
Lab and supervisor: Community Health Research Team (CoHeaRT) – Scott Lear
What my lab is working on: We do a lot of cardiovascular disease prevention and management research (mostly at the community level). Some current projects involve the built environment, ethnic differences in risk for CVDs, and telehealth work.
What I am working on: I am working on a text messaging project to help heart attack patients for their first 60 days post discharge. I am working on a couple of other telehealth projects as well and am interested in helping people prevent and manage their conditions.
Lab and supervisor: Molecular Cardiac Physiology Group – Tom Claydon
What my lab is working on: As a part of SFU’s Molecular Cardiac Physiology Group (MCPG), Dr. Tom Claydon’s lab focuses on the functional study of cardiac potassium ion channels and their link to cardiovascular disease.
What I am working on: My project involves fluorescence-based electrophysiology approaches to describe the relationship between structure and function of cardiac potassium ion channels.
Lab and supervisor: Laboratory for Exercise and Environmental Physiology – Matt White
What my lab is working on: Our lab looks at a number of topics related to human temperature regulation and energy expenditure. Topics include the control of breathing, mechanisms underlying temperature regulation and obesity and metabolism, all during exercise and/or varying environmental conditions.
What I am working on: Currently I am conducting research in the areas of metabolism and obesity. I am looking at how brown adipose tissue, which has recently been discovered to influence energy expenditure in humans, may contribute to obesity in humans when exposed to mild cold conditions. This research aims itself well to my interest in health care and healthy living, both passions of mine.