The purpose of the blog is to chronicle my life through my undergraduate degree at the University of British Columbia (UBC). If you have any questions about the Microbiology & Immunology program (MBIM), Science, or UBC in general, please do not hesitate to contact me (e-mail me or comment below). You can also e-mail me if you seek advice/mentorship from a Science grad.
My Background and the Blog
I graduated with a Bachelor of Science from UBC in the Department of Microbiology & Immunology in May 2014.
I started blogging shortly after finishing my first year, after realizing that there weren’t many good blogs out there for UBC Science students and after being inspired by two blogs written by UBC students at the time. Unfortunately, as useful as the information on this blog may be, it will eventually become outdated. I hope this blog inspires other UBC students to share their experiences, knowledge, and wisdom through blogging.
My Academic Journey
When I was in my last year of high school, I was thinking of majoring in Chemistry, and possibly teaching Chemistry at some high school as a career. I applied to the Sciences programs at a few universities/colleges — UBC, SFU, Kwantlen, UT, McGill. I was accepted by all those schools save McGill, because apparently my grades were too low. After receiving 40 as my final IB Diploma grade, I entered UBC Sciences.
Once I entered university, I became interested in biology — particularly evolution and molecular biology, although I thought of them in separate contexts. Frankly, I was less interested in biochemistry or chemistry than before, finding them difficult. Another thing I didn’t like studying at this point was genetics. I didn’t bother applying to Physiology nor Pharmacology after first year because I did not know much about the programs; I felt like it was too difficult to get accepted; and I didn’t like the chemistry part of Pharmacology nor the human anatomy part of Physiology. These were naive thoughts of someone who didn’t know much about either program, and I wish I had tried applying to at least one of them, because I later came to dislike large classes, which existed even in third/fourth year MBIM.
I was interested in microorganisms such as viruses and bacteria, especially in the context of human health, and chose to go into Microbiology & Immunology. My second and third choices were Biology and Mathematics, respectively. After taking MICB 201 and 202, I didn’t find bacterial metabolism (or metabolism itself) to be my forte (MICB 201); however, I really enjoyed the Immunology part of MICB 202. This soon changed after taking MICB 302. Bacterial physiology seemed somewhat interesting (MICB 301), as did virology (MICB 306), although I did not particularly enjoy rote memorizing all the different viruses. During third year, my GPA dropped 10% to my disappointment.
Before third year, I had the chance to start working in a lab. The learning curve was steep, but I learned many skills and overall I enjoyed the lab work. Furthermore, the research topic grew on me. It was during this time that I was accepted into the co-op program.
In the middle of third year, I applied for a variety of co-op positions, including several biomedical research positions at VGH and BC Children’s. Despite getting many interviews due to my previous lab experience, it was difficult to secure an offer, but eventually I decided to work for a local pharmaceutical company. I was initially supposed to work in their Genetics/Molecular biology department. However, after meeting with various people in the company, I was able to get into the Dept of Electrophysiology (which I didn’t know anything about). The research there was somewhat tedious (high throughput screening 24/7), but pharmacological research didn’t seem too bad, and at this point I thought to myself that I could have applied to Pharmacology and probably have found it interesting. During the second half of my co-op term, I found myself becoming more and more interested in molecular biology and even genetics. Electrophysiology didn’t bore me, and I happened to be pretty good at manual patch clamp, but my physics background was weak (relative to my biology). Routine screening was also very repetitive and tedious.
It was around this time that I started to wish I had gone into computer science, due to what my CPSC friend was telling me and due to the better job market. Even a Combined Major in MBIM and CPSC would have been fine. This sentiment was later further ingrained in me when the same friend started making 7K/month in a programming co-op position; and when I tried programming (CPSC 301), finding it quite fun.
After that co-op position, I went back to school, deciding to take BIOL 334, a genetics course, as an elective. As it turns out, it was one of my favourite courses of that semester (and I got an A+) and I told myself that I would look for a genetics-related lab position as my next co-op. l also highly enjoyed MICB 325, which was about gene regulation in bacteria. I find it fascinating how bacteria regulate the expression of genes depending on the environmental conditions.
A few months later, I found my second co-op placement in an epigenomics lab on campus. I worked on creating and modifying software protocols for an automated liquid handling system for applications in next generation sequencing. (read: I played with a robot to make it do lab work for us).
Potential career paths I have considered include the life sciences industry (e.g. acting as product specialist for a life sciences company), bioinformatics, higher education, medicine, and law.
I am currently pursuing a second degree in the two-year UBC Bachelor of Computer Science (BCS) program.
Outside of school
A bit about myself outside of academia — in my spare time, I enjoy playing badminton/ping pong, watching YouTube videos, engrossing myself in anime and manga, being a foodie wannabe, blogging, volunteering, and baking/cooking. And programming (sometimes), (and abusing the use of parentheses).
See Involvement & Extracurriculars for a description of my non-academic campus activities.
Please do not hesitate to leave questions/comments on any of my posts. I read every comment and all new comments are moderated. If I don’t reply to your question within 48 hours it probably means I read it and decided to reply later but forgot and you should either send an e-mail or post another comment. I appreciate when people put a name with their comment because everyone’s name seems to be “ubc first year student” or something like that and it gets a bit more difficult to track conversations! Even a nickname or fake name would be preferred. I am also open to suggestions about what you think I should cover on my blog.
If you are a blogger who covers UBC topics, feel free to comment too! If I like your content I’ll add it into my blogroll on the side of my blog.
BSc in Microbiology & Immunology:
IB Transfer Credits
CHEM 121 (chose not to use transfer credit)
Transfer credits – 18 credits
Year 1 – Winter 2009 – Term 1
Year 1 – Winter 2009 – Term 2
Credits in 2009W – 34 credits
Credits in 2010S – 6 credits
Year 2 – Winter 2010 – Term 1
Year 2 – Winter 2010 – Term 2
Credits in 2010W – 31 credits
Year 3 – Winter 2011 – Term 1
Year 3 – Winter 2011 – Term 2
MICB 398 (Co-op term)
Credits in 2011W – 15 credits
Year 3 – Summer 2012
MICB 399 (Co-op term)
Year 4 – Winter 2012 – Term 1
Year 4- Winter 2012 – Term 2
Credits in 2012W – 27 credits
Year 4 – Summer 2013
MICB 498 (Co-op term)
Year 5 – Winter 2013 – Term 1
MICB 499 (Co-op term)
Year 5 – Winter 2013 – Term 2
Credits in 2014W – 9 credits
Total number of credits: 140/120
Courses chosen based on the UBC Calendar – Microbiology and Immunology page.
Bachelor’s of Computer Science (BCS) second degree program
BCS Course Exemptions
Year 1 – Winter 2014 – Term 1
Credits in 2014W – 27 credits
Credits in 2015S – 11 credits
Year 2 – Winter 2015 – Term 1
CPSC 298 (co-op)
Year 3 – Winter 2016 (tentative — this is more like a shortlist of courses I’m considering taking)
CPSC 310 (required)
My biggest regrets:
-not being involved more in high school and in first year
-not applying for the Orientations Leader position in first year
-not joining a club earlier
-not going to more professors’ office hours
-not putting more effort into my work
-not doing UBC Engineering or UBC Computer Science
-not getting a Combined Major in Microbiology & Immunology and Computer Science
-taking MATH 223
-missing out on optional events (workshops/conferences for self development and further learning) for whatever reason
-not working more on personal projects
-not taking CPSC 110 previous to starting the BCS program
My biggest achievements:
-setting up a pipetting robot largely independently and providing proof of principle by constructing a genomic DNA library from 0.6 pg of DNA
-having a decent-ish average (87%) and getting 100% in CPSC 110 :P
This post was last updated in June 2015.
“Don’t let school get in the way of your education.”