Name: Dustin Washburn (Chief Editor)

Program: Clinical Psychology, Ph.D., Year 5Gradifying Profile

About Me: I have noticed across many instances during my 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
Biology PhD, Year 5

About Me: I completed both my B.Sc. (Hons) and M.Sc. here at Queen’s and started my PhD in September 2012.

amanda tracey profile photoMy 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,  Kingston Junior Naturalist, Let’s Talk Science 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. I’ve spent a lot of time volunteering in and around the Queen’s/Kingston community so hope to share those as well.


Name: Junyu Ke

Program: Cultural Studies, recent graduate

About me: It is just my third year in Canada. In 2014, i came from China to study in Cultural Studies at Queen’s. I have been always feeling grateful for this opportunity, which enables me to meet new people, learn refreshing knowledge, pick up new skills and expand my horizon. Kingston is friendly and Queen’s is supportive, they contribute to my professional and individual success during my life in here. In terms of my research interest, i pay attention to the ecological connection between the human being and the environment, and my Master thesis researched on how body movement could raise ecological consciousness. I believe that human being should act as responsible planetary citizens that care about the well-being of the earth. Anyway i hope people can change their mindsets and act consciously in their daily lives.

Why i choose Queen’s: there are multiple reason for me to choose Queen’s. Geography, reputation, funding, supervisor and immigration policy.

What i am here to blog about: my initiative to become a blog writer is to share my experience of how to build up a professional profile via utilizing Queen’s graduate resources and opportunities. Retaining a good academic standing is important but meanwhile seizing skills and knowledge from different practical circumstances is critical to personal achievement too. In addition, mental and physical well-being, i would stress, is not the least thing student should consider. They are equally essential.



Name: Vanessa IMG_4896
Program: PhD in Clinical Psychology, Year 2
About me: I started out in my program studying how children understand that words are not real but socially created artifacts, useful for communication. Kids are rad little creatures eh?

But as I began my clinical work I was swept away by something new. I started to appreciate that even thought we share similar experiences (going to school, break ups, family dynamics), we can experience them in completely different ways. This variation in our interpretations ends up having profound impacts on our ability to be capable, happy humans.

Now the things I love and study are understanding how patterns of thinking lead to patterns of acting, and how can we develop new patterns. My PhD research will examine how people see their emotional experience as fixed or malleable and whether they think emotions are good or bad. If you think that having a negative emotion is the worst thing ever and you believe you can’t change your emotions, then you’re probably in for a rough go in life.

Aside from being a grad student which is both a big part (takes up a lot of time) and small part (so many other cool things I do) of my life, I love to bike around and look at trees, catch sunrises, paddle board, cook, read fantasy novels (name of the wind amirite?) and essentially everything else.

Why I chose Queen’s:  Just like Elon Musk, I picked Queen’s for the babes. Just kidding, that was my second reason. I was drawn to Queen’s first for the research and its pedigree. I then chose Queen’s because of its people. The emphasis on collaboration and community is the key factor to producing great student. Also Kingston is BEAUTIFUL.

What I’m here to blog about: I took on this position to push myself to be contemplative of my experience here as a graduate student, in hopes that it would benefit other students. My experience at Queen’s has been a rollercoaster, sometimes scary and defeating, other times thrilling and exasperating, but importantly in the end I want to ride again and again. What you’ll get from my blog is how to use the experiences in grad school, both positive and negative to grow and be better.




Name: Ma Chengcheng

Program: Cultural Studies, Year 2


About Me: I Completed my undergrads at Tsinghua University, with two bachelor degrees in Chinese Language and Literature; Journalism and Communication. I am now in Cultural Studies at Queen’s, specializing in Film and Media.

My current research interest lies in contemporary cinematic culture, mainly on the visual representation of cinematic ideology. I start with “textual” analysis of film publicity, combining it to the new mechanism of movie-goers seeing and perceiving cinematic images in the postmodern society.

I am also into arts outside academia. I had three years’ training in sketching, but later I took up photography. I’ve been trying to infuse my sensibility to the art world into my academic research.

During the past two years, I’ve traveled a lot to Japan, Korea, Canada, America, Germany, France, Holland, Spain, and different provinces of China, which largely enriched my experience. During these journeys, I always carried what I had learned in class with me, and embraced new things with a critical mindset.

Why I chose Queen’s: I have to say that Queen’s is really good at outreaching. The funding is satisfactory. But the main reason that I chose Queen’s is owing to the department setting of Cultural Studies, which is extraordinary interdisciplinary. This is awesome because I’ve got a platform to combine my varied academic backgrounds and interests together in a productive way.

What I’m here to blog about: Grad students are really bound up in the readings, conferences, TA jobs, and even part-time jobs. We may not be so active on social media. However, our voices need to be heard, either by ourselves or by others. We need a place like Gradifying to exchange minds, share opinions, and build up networks. I always love reading and writing. And I see this an opportunity to use my skills to benefit the community of grad students. So, I write about everything that brings refreshment and positivity to grad students.


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