Graduate Studies - Student Spotlight

Introducing Graduate PhD Candidate Marie-Soleil Smith

Why did you choose this program?The main reason I chose to pursue a PhD in Pathology & Laboratory Medicine is because of my supervisor, Dr. Hélène Côté. I have always loved learning about infectious diseases and the minute I read about the research she does with HIV and antiretroviral therapy I knew I needed to be a part of it.

What is the most interesting thing you've done, seen or got involved with whilst at UBC? This is a little out of left field, but the UBC Opera is phenomenal. Tickets are very affordable for students, and you have the opportunity to experience world class talent in some of the most gorgeous theatres. I very recently attended their performance of Le nozze di Figaro and it definitely did not disappoint.

What is your favourite place on campus/Vancouver? I am very lucky to live so close to Pacific Spirit Park. So many of us take for granted how reenergizing a walk among the towering trees can be. Wandering through the forest and slowly taking it all in can put everything into perspective and often gives just the right amount of peace and calm to help you take on your next project.

Give us your top three things to do/see/go to in Vancouver? It would be impossible for me to narrow it down to just three, so I will give you my ultimate Vancouver day. First, start the day off with a morning drive to North Vancouver to walk or bike the Seymour Demonstration Forest trail. Next, stop at BjornBar bakery for coffee and their famous ganookie (a ganache filled cookie, yes I have an insatiable sweet tooth). End the day with a walk through Granville Island Market, grabbing snacks along the way.

If you were to switch departments or courses at UBC, what would you study instead and why? In my undergrad I studied Microbiology and Immunology, which makes it the most logical choice. I have also adored every single chemistry course I have taken, so if I were to make a major life change, I could see myself being happy there as well.

Who would be your dream dinner guests? Dolly Parton, Michelle Obama, Bonnie Henry, my parents, and my partner.

How have you kept connected with friends and family during COVID? I think this has been a challenge for everyone. I guess it depends on the restrictions at the time, but I’ve found that planning activities outside (and distanced) or virtually have been the best ways to catch up with family and friends.

What would it surprise people to know about you? I started dancing when I was three years old and competed in dance styles such as ballet, tap, jazz, and contemporary from ages 5 to 18. Dance was such a big part of my life that I went to a high school specifically for athletically driven students.