This fall the BC Diabetes Research Network is pleased to shine a spotlight on Ji Soo (Samantha) Yoon from the Lynn Lab at the BC Children’s Hospital Research Institute campus. On behalf of everyone in the diabetes research community at UBC, we are grateful for Sam’s many contributions over the years. Sam is always willing and available to support activities for the community.
Name: Ji Soo (Samantha) Yoon, PhD
Program: CELL at UBC
Supervisor: Dr. Francis Lynn
Where did you grow up?
I’m originally from Seoul, South Korea. I came to Canada when I was 7 years old and grew up in Vancouver and North Vancouver.
What did you study for your undergraduate degree and where did you go to school before UBC?
I went to UBC for my Bachelors in Science, majoring in biology.
What got you interested in diabetes research?
My first time working in a lab, which was in my 2nd year of undergrad. I was washing dishes, racking tips, and doing similar chores in the Kieffer lab at UBC. I was allowed to attend lab meetings, where I was first exposed to a lot of the diabetes research. Obviously, I had no clue whatsoever what the majority of the content meant, but being in that environment made me want to be able to understand the discussions and the science. I eventually returned to the same lab as a co-op student a year later, which helped me start my research path.
How far along are you in your degree and what do you hope to achieve in 2023 with your research?
I completed my PhD as of August 2023! For the remainder of this year, I plan to publish the rest of my thesis work while I’m still in Vancouver, and hopefully find a lab that I can work in as a postdoc.
Any advice/words of wisdom to share with other trainees about starting grad school or on how you found ways to connect with colleagues?
I always tell potential grad students to do exactly what I did not do when I was applying to grad school. If you roughly know what area of research you’re interested in, leave yourself plenty of time to reach out and contact potential supervisors, and definitely talk to as many PIs as you want. Talking to the grad students in their lab is also important, since they’re the ones who have experienced what you’re going to go through if you start your degree. I think connecting with colleagues or other students in the program/department/research field happens whether you like it or not, and some of those people may become your closest support network during your degree.
Any funny stories to share with the trainee community? (optional)
I find it amusing that while I’ve worked in 3 different labs over the past 9 years, my primary research project has never been what 90% of the lab works on. Maybe it’ll be different in the next lab I go to, who knows…
Any advice for new graduate students?
Talk to people. I think my biggest regret is not being brave enough to talk to a lot of people until a few years into my degree. It’s not really “networking”, but I’ve had the best conversations at conferences because I eventually walked up to someone who I didn’t know and tell them how cool I thought their research was. It’ll feel better in the long run to ask that one question at a presentation than just mull it over for the next few hours in your head after the talk is over.
The past few years have been a pandemic and travel has been restricted. Now that travel is allowed, where do you want to go and why?
I’ve always wanted to visit Iceland, but I’d be content with anywhere that’s not too hot and has good views.