University Teaching Fellow, Kwantlen Polytechnic University; Open Education Advisor, BCcampus
I was born/grew up in: Bombay, India
I now live in: North Vancouver, BC, Canada
I completed my training/education at: University of British Columbia, BA (Psychology), MA (Cognitive Science), PhD (Social/Personality Psychology)
Describe what you do at work.
On any given week, I teach 2-4 university courses and conduct research on topics that interest me (these days, mainly about education). I write, help edit a scientific journal, and advocate for ways to make education more accessible to all and science more rigorous and collaborative. Although some of my work (e.g., writing) is solitary, most of my work is done in collaboration with colleagues, often around the world. In addition to my expertise in psychological science and education, I most frequently draw on my critical thinking, research, communication, and interpersonal skills.
When I was a student I enjoyed:
How does your job affect people’s lives?
Working with post-secondary students to help them develop skills that will prepare them for success in life, conducting research to help educators perform their work even more effectively, and advocating to improve access to higher education are all immensely meaningful pursuits to me.
What motivates you in your career?
I love that my discipline--any discipline--is not static and that researchers are constantly pushing the boundaries of our knowledge. That, together with working with new cohorts of bright young minds every year, keeps my work ever-changing and very interesting. I consider it a great privilege to serve the community by disseminating scientific knowledge through public lectures and newspaper articles, and an important part of my service to help cultivate and mentor the next generation of scientists. I have never regretted my decision to become an academic. I feel very fortunate to do work that I am not only good at and am compensated for, but that I truly love.
When I was a student, I would have described myself as someone who:
Describe your career path to this career.
I had originally intended to embark on a career in the performing arts (following on from a decade of work in this area). However, a very positive experience with supportive faculty member in my first year of university made me think seriously about a career in academia. There I thought I might have the opportunity to make a similar positive difference in students' lives. Having taught dance for years I was already comfortable at the head of a classroom. My experience during my first year of university showed me how an enthusiastic and supportive faculty member can really help build confidence and spark a passion for the pursuit of knowledge.
What activities do you like to do outside of work?
When I am not travelling or busy playing or biking with my two young boys, I am often found on the cricket field.
What advice or encouragement would you give others seeking a similar career?
Academia can be a difficult career to enter but an immensely rewarding one (assuming it is a good fit for you). If you are passionate and genuinely curious about a subject, enjoy reading and writing, and are not daunted at the prospect of several additional years of training, investigate good graduate programs and advisors. You may feel that getting into graduate school is more important than whom you work with, but this is not the case. Ensure you find a good fit with your graduate advisor, develop a strong social network, and look after your work-life balance to ensure that your academic success does not come at the cost of your mental health.
Let's Talk Science recognizes and thanks Rajiv Jhangiani for his contribution to Canada 2067.