About Me: I study boredom. <Pause for the joke you’re formulating about how boredom is interesting>. I’m interested in boredom as a special experience of time in modern life, and particularly one that we have when we’re faced with choice overload.
Why I chose Queen’s: After an undergrad in Anthropology and Museology at Western, I wanted to keep broadening my opportunities through an interdisciplinary grad program. Queen’s was one of the only schools in Canada to offer Cultural Studies and I decided to take the risk and reap the rewards of becoming part of the inaugural cohort. I finished my MA in Cultural Studies two years ago, and having enjoyed the interdisciplinary freedom, began the PhD directly after.
What I’m here to blog about: I’m here to talk about what grad school is like as an interdisciplinary researcher in the humanities and social sciences, attuned to the crossovers between traditional scholarship and cultural production. I can offer perspective, too, about what it’s like to do two grad degrees in the same place, to navigate the administrative side of a new program, and what it can mean to get involved in the Kingston community as well as at Queen’s.
About Me: I have noticed across many instances during my five years in graduate studies the tendency for researchers to study things that they inherently do not understand. Depression exists in many forms and is a common human condition we have all been exposed to in one way or another but it is vastly misunderstood. An appreciation for the syndrome’s complexity is my motivation for studying depression, its antecedents and maintaining factors, as well as the negative impacts for individuals suffering from it. Clinically depressed individuals often engage in particular behaviours that can be difficult or irritating for those who are close to them, which can serve to further exacerbate their illness. Through my dissertation, I am trying to better understand this interpersonal dysfunction by investigating the cognitive mechanisms that underlie it. Specifically, my PhD research examines the impact of rumination on an aversive interpersonal behaviour, negative feedback seeking, and how that results in later interpersonal impairment.
Alongside of research, I express my passion for these issues through the clinical practice component of my program. I enjoy learning various psychotherapeutic techniques from numerous orientations to apply in my sessions. I find very few things are more rewarding than the process of helping another human being heal.
Grad school is busy, but if we’re being honest, there is usually space for living outside of studies. When there’s time for doing, I love playing squash (when my tendonitis isn’t flaring up), listening to music (the heavier the better), and eating the best fruit in the world, watermelon (I could debate this for days).
Why I chose Queen’s: Destiny. While that is true (probably), I was also drawn here by the strong Clinical Psychology program and the plenty of world-renowned researchers in the psychology department. As if that wasn’t enough of a reason, my academic advisor is well known for providing excellent mentorship, and Queen’s strong connection with the mental health community in Kingston offers extensive clinical opportunities.
What I’m here to blog about: Like the rest of us, I will be sharing my perspectives of graduate school through the lens of a fellow grad student. Some more specific themes that are likely to permeate my posts include what it’s like to be in a program with one foot in the research world and one foot in clinical practice. Even more likely, you’ll probably read about what it’s like to return to academia as a mature (pronounced, ‘ma-too-r’) student – that’s a shout out to all the brothers and sisters who are no longer the spry young chicks they used to be.
Name: Amanda Tracey
Program: Biology PhD, Year 3
About Me: I completed both my B.Sc. (Hons) and M.Sc. here at Queen’s and started my PhD in September 2012.
My research is in plant community ecology and evolution looking at the implications of plant body size for reproduction, abundance and recruitment. The majority of my research takes place on properties belonging to the Queen’s University Biology Station (QUBS) north of Kingston in Chaffey’s Locks and Westport. I am passionate about science education and teaching & learning in general. I am an avid volunteer with the Kingston Humane Society, Big Brothers, Big Sisters and PlantingScience. I love spending time in nature, hiking, fishing, and taking photos of it all.
Why I chose Queen’s: I can’t really remember why I originally chose Queen’s—that was too long ago now. I decided to stick around at Queen’s because I have a great Supervisor and having QUBS close by is very convenient for field work.
What I’m here to blog about: My experiences as a grad student in the natural sciences, at Queen’s and in Kingston.
About Me: I completed my BA in Kinesiology at Wilfrid Laurier University (WLU) in Waterloo, ON, and my MSc. in exercise physiology at Queen’s. I took a year off between undergrad and grad school to figure out what I wanted to study for a master’s; but mostly, I took that year off to volunteer at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics.
I am fascinated by the ability of the brain to change itself in response to novel situations (brain plasticity). In particular, I am interested in exercise-induced brain plasticity and how exercise can be used to improve the aging brain.
My Master’s research focused on how combining different forms of cognitive stimulation (exercise and cognitive training) affects brain function in older adults. We believe that individuals should perform cognitive training AFTER a bout of exercise, thereby increasing the amount of beneficial hormones (neurotrophins) that reach the brain. My PhD work, in part, will focus on what type of changes occur in the brain after a bout of aerobic exercise, and whether these changes support the rationale for performing cognitively stimulating activities immediately after a bout of exercise.
Outside of school I like to stay active playing many sports, camping, cycling, playing guitar, and working at the ARC pool as a lifeguard. I love living in Kingston as it offers an awesome range of activities all year round.
Why I chose Queen’s: Prior to applying to Queen’s, I knew WHAT I wanted to study but I was unable to find a supervisor who shared my research interest (based on their online [dating] profiles). I interviewed with potential supervisors from the School of Kinesiology and Health Studies at Queen’s because of its strong reputation and research potential, but I didn’t really have my mind set on a particular research interest. During that fateful interview, I expressed my passion for exercise-neuroscience with my supervisor to-be, and despite having a completely different research focus, he was eager to take me on. I liked this arrangement so much that I decided to continue working in the Human Vascular Control Lab for my PhD.
What I’m here to blog about: I am excited to try my hand at blogging and to step away from scientific writing. I wish to provide a perspective of discovery and learning, as a number of topics posted in this blog will be reports of what I have learned. As such, I strive to shed novel insight on the many facets of life as a grad student and life in beautiful Kingston.