Japan research placement opens doors for PhD student
By Wanda Praamsma, Communications Officer
Lacey Reid is so glad she stepped outside her comfort zone to spend several months in Nagoya, Japan last year working at Toyota Central Research and Development Labs.
A PhD student in Professor Cathleen Crudden’s chemistry lab at Queen’s, Ms. Reid wouldn’t have chosen Japan as a research destination, but is now thankful that Dr. Crudden encouraged her to take the placement, funded by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council’s CREATE program.
“On the plane I was torn between excitement and terror. It was surreal – I was sitting there thinking, ‘Is this happening?’” says Ms. Reid. “But when I got there, everyone was so helpful and welcoming. Being at Toyota has changed the way I think about research and go about my own research.”
Ms. Reid, who spent her time in a special lab devoted to materials chemistry research, was especially influenced by the organization and efficiency of the lab and says it has helped her hone her own record-keeping and organization skills and zero in on specific goals.
“Working in the industrial setting pushed me to really think critically about realistic goals and timelines, which will definitely help me in finishing various projects at Queen’s and my PhD,” she says.
The experience has also reinforced her desire to work in industry and broadened her ideas of where she might work post-graduation. She used to think about taking jobs in Canada and the United States; now she is thinking more about Asia and Europe and what those places might have to offer.
And because of the placement, Ms. Reid says more opportunities have come her way. Recently she found out she’s been awarded a $25,000 Marie Mottashed Graduate Scholarship, given to female graduate students in the physical sciences (chemistry, physics and geology) at Queen’s on the basis of academic excellence.
Ms. Reid plans to use the scholarship money to attend conferences around the world. Thinking back to how things have unfolded for her over the past year, Ms. Reid says she wants to encourage other students to take these global opportunities.
“I really believe now that students should step outside their comfort zone. There are not just the immediate rewards of living and learning abroad. The opportunities grow from there. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that I’ve now received this incredible scholarship, which will open many more doors for me.”