Brandon Forys, a Cognitive Science PhD student, investigates the neural correlates and behavioural mechanisms that underpin how people apply physical effort to avoid unpleasant situations.
Why did you decide to pursue a graduate degree?
I see cognitive science research as a way to make a positive impact on others, through exploring how and why people make the decisions they do to pursue goals and avoid threats as well as understanding the neural processes that drive these behaviours. A graduate degree gives me the time and space to work with others on these research projects, while allowing me to develop my scientific writing and communication skills and learn a variety of research methods that give me new ways to do this research.
Why did you decide to study at UBC?
I initially picked UBC for my undergraduate degree as it offers an excellent Psychology program. As I completed a BA in Honours Psychology here, I had the opportunity to work in a variety of labs in the Departments of Psychology and Neuroscience. Through these research projects and the connections I built here, I realized that UBC was a great fit for my longer-term research interests that I could pursue in graduate school. Studying at UBC gives me an opportunity to extend my undergraduate research with Dr. Rebecca Todd into a series of larger studies asking a variety of research questions. As I enter my PhD, I will continue to explore avenues of research expanding from this original work in the Honours program.
“The Psychology program at UBC offers students a collaborative environment and is heavily research-focused. Together with the positive atmosphere and access to resources I had come to know during my undergraduate years in the Psychology department, I knew that the program would allow me to work with others and pursue the research that I am passionate about.”
What is it specifically, that your program offers, that attracted you?
The Psychology program at UBC offers students a collaborative environment and is heavily research-focused. Together with the positive atmosphere and access to resources I had come to know during my undergraduate years in the Psychology department, I knew that the program would allow me to work with others and pursue the research that I am passionate about.
What was the best surprise about UBC or life in Vancouver?
The best surprise about UBC is the variety of interesting areas to walk and explore. From the teahouse at Nitobe Japanese Garden (a favourite study spot) to the secluded Tower Beach, and from gardens and rows of trees to beach and rainforest, being on campus at UBC is an adventure in itself.
What aspect of your graduate program do you enjoy the most or are looking forward to with the greatest curiosity?
I enjoy working alongside people who are excited about the research we do. Getting to dive into different research methods and exploring different fields of the literature alongside my supervisors and colleagues, setting up spontaneous collaborations and learning opportunities – these are things I treasure in my graduate program.
What aspects of your life or career before now have best prepared you for your UBC graduate program?
The Psychology Honours Program gave me an opportunity to conduct two focused research projects in the department where I would later become a graduate student. The statistical, writing, and presentation skills I developed during those two years help me every day as I conduct and share the scientific work I do for my Master’s and will continue to do in my PhD.
What advice do you have for new graduate students?
Take time to explore areas of research (there is always time to explore!) and discover something that speaks to you. When you can research something you genuinely care about and want to learn more about, that will make your graduate school experience all the more enriching.
What do you like to do for fun or relaxation?
In my free time, I enjoy walking around UBC’s campus, exploring Vancouver with friends, reading books (especially science fiction and travel books), and playing video games.
This interview was conducted by UBC Graduate School.