Gurjot Singh

Gurjot Singh

on June 29, 2018
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Gurjot Singh considers himself fortunate to be a graduate student at UBC. He is just completing his first year studying for a Masters in Experimental Medicine but he is still effusive in thanking his supervisor, Dr Baljinder Salh, for the chance he has been given, “I feel incredibly grateful that he gave me the opportunity to research with him.”

As with many graduate students Gurjot’s choice of program wasn’t the product of years of planning but instead the result of an encounter during his undergraduate program.

As a third-year student in Health Sciences at the University of Toronto, he was offered an opportunity to work with Dr Patrick Gunning, a leader in the world of medicinal chemist who is exploring the development of anti-cancer drugs.

“It was an honor working with him, I saw the amount of hard work he would put into his research and it really motivated me to becoming a person who would help other people.”

Gurjot spent a summer studying similar approaches to drug treatment in Alzheimer’s disease at Cardiff University before completing his degree. With his enthusiasm for this work piqued an application to UBC’s Masters program in Experimental Medicine was a natural next step. The moment when the acceptance came through was filled with excitement and a certain sense of serendipity.

“I came to BC for a family get together in February. It was the first time I’d visited and as soon as I got off the plane I checked my email, as I always do, and there was my acceptance letter from UBC. It felt like this was meant to be.

“I actually screamed ‘YES I GOT IN’ in the airport lobby. Everyone just started staring at me and I quietly walked away. It made my trip to BC a whole lot better.”

“I think it’s really important to establish a good relationship with your supervisor, to know you can work well with them. I was lucky to meet Dr. Sahl on that trip in February and I quickly realised that he was a great person and I could imagine myself working in his lab.”

The timing of the acceptance also gave Gurjot an unexpected opportunity to meet his would-be supervisor before arriving at UBC.

“I think it’s really important to establish a good relationship with your supervisor, to know you can work well with them. I was lucky to meet Dr. Sahl on that trip in February and I quickly realised that he was a great person and I could imagine myself working in his lab.”

Gurjot is the only postgraduate researcher in the lab and it was the solitary nature of his research that drew him to join the GSS.

“I’m the only graduate researcher in my lab so I don’t get to meet other students adding to the fact that none of my family lives in Vancouver, so the GSS was a great way to start making connections and interacting with the many budding students. I realised that I could make a difference for my whole department, by joining the Council.”

The challenges of being a postgraduate researcher off campus go beyond the difficulties of making new friends.

“I live my life travelling in a triangle between home, the hospital, and campus. I love being on campus, it’s a wonderful relaxing place where people work so hard but honestly, it’s time consuming and expensive having to commute so much.”

Gurjot freely admits he hadn’t fully appreciated the cost of living and studying in Vancouver before beginning his program.

“It was one of those things my supervisor warned me about. It is something you do need to think about and that affects all graduate students.”

Now through his new role he wants to try and address these hidden costs.

“I want to establish goals with the other executives and am keen to see what can be done to try and make Vancouver more affordable for graduate students whether that’s transportation, improving financial aid, or finding more suitable accommodation either on campus or that’s close to off campus facilities to reduce the time students spend travelling.”

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Gurjot Singh