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Career Profile

Yetong Dong

Research Assistant/Graduate Student
University of British Columbia
Yetong Dong headshot wearing lab coat
Yetong Dong headshot wearing lab coat
Sector
Location Born
Location Now
Education Pathway

I am studying to become a scientific researcher.

About me

I was born/grew up in: I was born in China. I grew up in Surrey, British Columbia.

I now live in: Surrey, British Columbia

I completed my training/education at:  I have a Biology degree from the University of British Columbia.

What I do at work

As a research assistant, I help with every part of a research project. This includes designing and performing experiments and writing scientific documents. It also involves presenting research findings at lab meetings to diverse audiences. I participated in a project looked at the effects of certain chemicals in the environment. We wanted to see how these chemicals could affect cellular processes of mammals. If cells can’t do what they need to do, it will affect the organism’s health. Some interesting experiments I did were cell culturing (this is growing cells under the specific conditions). I also did DNA, RNA and protein extraction from cells.

My work had a heavy emphasis on STEM related skills. These involved such things as critical thinking, problem-solving and analytical skills. I often had to use these skills to design and troubleshoot experiments. Interpersonal and communication skills were also important. I worked with other research assistants and graduate students to perform experiments. We also had regular team meetings. In these meetings, we shared our progress and to discussed future goals. I worked with a lot of specialized equipment. This included things like microscopes, centrifuges and an imaging machine. My biology degree greatly helped me succeed in this profession. The lab courses I took during my 4th year equipped me with all the essential laboratory skills.

My career path is

Interestingly, I never thought of doing research back in high school. Biology was my favorite subject in school and I wanted to study something related. I ended up majoring in Biology in university and enjoyed it.

After graduation, I really had no idea what I wanted to do. I was not even aware what careers were available for Biology graduates. I didn’t do co-op during my undergrad but I took two very useful lab courses in my final year. I decided that I wanted to see what I could do with a Biology degree before applying for graduate school. This led me to start searching for research opportunities. When I finally found one and was offered the job, I took up the offer immediately! I chose this career path because I wanted to put theory into practice. I enjoy learning new skills and meeting people who were already in the field.

I am motivated by

I enjoy the personal and professional development opportunities of my work. I also enjoy the changing nature of this job. I enjoyed learning new techniques. I also enjoyed hearing about other projects and meeting new people. I also worked with other research teams and visited different universities. The most interesting aspects would be meeting other people who loved their career. This was personally rewarding because it was like a paid learning experience. I gained a better understanding about research and research related career paths.

How I affect peoples’ lives

I was very happy to learn new techniques and gain new skills. The project I participated in aimed to understand how certain chemicals can have an adverse effect on mammals. Our experimental data and results were sent to the government. This will help officials understand how to regulate the use of these chemicals. Therefore, I think my career had a positive implication on public health.

Outside of work I

I like to walk around parks and appreciate the beauty of nature. I also enjoy taking pictures of plants.

My advice to others

Networking is very important. I participated in a few networking events during my undergrad and found them to be very insightful. Talk to people who are in the field that interests you. See what they have to say about their career and how they got to where they are today.

When I was a student, I enjoyed:
  • Art
  • History
  • Math
  • Science
When I was a student, I would have described myself as someone who:
  • Enjoyed doing things on my own
  • Liked helping people
  • Enjoyed working with my hands
  • Was motivated by success
  • Liked being given free range to explore my ideas
  • Wasn't sure what I wanted to do
  • Liked being given specific instructions
  • Felt great satisfaction in getting good grades

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