Queen's University Queen's University


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 chose 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.


Name: Umair Majid

Program: Professional Master of Education, Year 1


About Me: I am a research methodologist and an aspiring policy scholar. I completed my BSc in Life Sciences and MSc in Health Research Methodology, both from McMaster University. I have diverse experiences and expertise in clinical research, including qualitative research, statistics, systematic reviews, medical education and policy research. I also bring unique training in appraising, framing, and editing manuscripts, governmental reports, abstracts, presentations, research protocols, course outlines, project management plans, risk analysis plans, news articles, and business and financial plans. More specifically, I have expertise in the quality assessment of qualitative research in evidence syntheses for health technology assessment. I have served as a Research Associate on projects for provincial and national government agencies where I have provided evidence from the patient perspective and experience to health policy deliberations.

My learning in research methodology lead me to establish The Methodologist (TMT), a unified, accessible and convenient platform for learners to become effective, authentic, and responsible researchers. I hope to address the gap of inadequate research training that many learners, academics, institutions, and corporations face around the world. TMT is an enterprise that provides project consultations, employee training packages, in-person seminars, online technical courses, and modules.

Though research methods is my area of expertise, I have a unique interest in program and curriculum design, which brought me to study at Queen’s University. I have appointments at McMaster University as an instructor, curriculum design and program developer working on various projects ranging from introducing entrepreneurship to undergraduate science programs to enhancing the peer mentorship programming at McMaster University using the learnings from the Japanese Senpai-Kohai system. I am at Queen’s to enhance my ability to better serve institutional and governmental programs around the world in their development, evaluation, and enhancement.

Why I chose Queen’s: In addition to the beautiful campus and the facilities available to the students, I chose Queen’s because of its Department of Education. I have always wanted to pursue further education in education. What better place to pursue than Queen’s University which has a long history of education? I am grateful for the opportunity to be a part of the Queen’s vibrant community!

What I’m here to blog about: I believe in establishing a common platform for graduate student communities to voice their concerns about campus life, mental health, stress, acquiring research skills, the struggle of theses defence, and more! In many circles, graduate studies equates to independence and isolation because we are so fixed in our personal scholarly endeavours. However true this may be, Gradifying provides the opportunity to converse with each other in an honest, open, and comfortable environment. I hope I can facilitate this process in the Queen’s graduate student community.


Name: Isabel Luce

Program: PhD Art History, Year 4

About Me: After completing my undergraduate degree in Art History and Canadian Studies16195166_10154181083711766_4067240211089899170_n (1) (McGill University), and a Master’s in Art History with a diploma in Curatorial Studies (York University), I started my Art History PhD at Queen’s University three years ago. It’s been an exciting time getting to know Kingston better and making new friends, as well as being able to dive into my research interests further.

I’ve always been intrigued by the Victorian era, particularly the way middle-class homes were ornately decorated with blue and white porcelain, antimacassars, bird cages, lambrequins, and so much more. Every object in these ostentatious rooms had meaning and projected an idea of the family’s position in society. My PhD research involves reading Victorian domestic advice manuals (primarily written by women) that dictated the proper ways one should decorate their home in order to show good taste and refinement, and comparing these descriptions to paintings and photographs of homes in both London, England and Montreal, as well as looking at diary and letter descriptions from those who inhabited these spaces. Most of these spaces no longer exist as they were in the 1800’s, so my project is about uncovering the reality of these homes when we’re only left idealized representations.

I also work at the Society of Graduate and Professional Students (SGPS) office at their front desk, so if you’re a graduate student there’s a good chance we may have already met! Their office takes care of things like the graduate student health and dental plan, bursaries & grants, and the Student Advisor Program. Stop by if you ever have questions related to being a grad student!

Why I chose Queen’s: I decided to study at Queen’s for a number of reasons – my supervisor is an influential scholar on the Victorian era, Queen’s offers a lot of financial support for their art history graduate students, and I had heard great things about the Queen’s community.

What I’m here to blog about: I’ve spent the last three years getting to know the best coffee shops in Kingston to work at (there’s got to be that perfect combo of free wifi, inexpensive coffee, the feeling that you’re allowed to loiter a couple of hours without worrying that you’re taking up seating, general ambiance, etc.), the best libraries to study in (Stauffer can get so grey sometimes and mixing it up is much needed), the best things to do in your spare time around Kingston to keep active when you’re studying all day (climbing at the Boiler Room!). I’d like to share those type of tips to grad students as well as more practical things that tend to come up regularly during my shifts working at the SGPS.


Name: Eruani Zainuddin

Program: PhD in Management Information Systems, Year 7


About Me: I completed my undergraduate degree in Information & Decision Systems and my Master in Information Systems Management at Carnegie Mellon University, USA. After working for a while, I went to the University of British Columbia for an MSc in Business Administration. I came to Queen’s for my PhD in Management Information Systems a few years ago.

I started my research with the overall objective of how to develop and implement software applications in organizations. I investigated application development and implementation under different contexts – outsourcing, offshoring, and the service business model. My research has branched out to examine software end users and the context in which they utilize the implemented applications. My PhD research focuses on examining end users under different professional, market, and religious contexts. Specifically, how different combinations of professional, market, and religious contexts influence end users to comply with standards and procedures set by software developers and organizations. My work’s ultimate goal is to help organizations maximize the value they receive from software applications.

Outside of work, I have my hands full with my husband, two children, and two cats. I love to cook and bake for my family. I love to read books – ranging from classic fiction to the more recent self-improvement non-fiction. After attending the “Dissertation on the Lake” event organized by SGS the past summer, I have also discovered a liking to hiking trails. I look forward to exploring the trails in Kingston this Fall.

Why I chose Queen’s: I was looking for a combination of a strong program, a school with a good reputation, and potential supervisors with similar research interests. I was also looking forward to small-town living, with a friendly community and an easy commute. Over the years, I have come to realize that Queen’s and Kingston not only fulfill my initial requirements, but also provide a supportive environment for both my work and family.

What I’m here to blog about: I have been a Gradifying follower for a few years now. I have benefitted from previous posts. I believe I have many experiences to share that fellow graduate students can benefit from. My writing will likely cover issues related to being student-cum-parent, student-cum-partner-of-a-busy-professional, as well as maintaining motivation, balance and some semblence of sanity in a hectic schedule.

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