Story

Boluwatife Awonaike
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PhD student, Environmental Science

I'm a first year PhD student in the Department of Physical and Environmental Sciences at UTSC. My research is focused on assessing the impact of urban runoff on the transport and retention of organic contaminants in two Ontario watersheds. 

I completed my Bachelor's degree in Industrial Chemistry at the University of Lagos, in Nigeria, after which I worked for a year with the Lagos State Ministry of the Environment. During this time, I decided to further my studies and joined the research community at UTSC soon after. A major factor that influenced my choice to come to U of T was my supervisor. I was in Nigeria at the time of my application and our contact was restricted to calls and emails. Nevertheless, he was very patient with me, listened to my research interests and explained his own research to me. This, in addition to the funding package, and of course U of T's stellar reputation, made me favourably disposed towards U of T. 

The graduate school experience here involves hard work, as expected. UTSC provides various means to make this process as easy as possible. Several resources and facilities aid my learning and my research. I have access to an extensive library, modern laboratory facilities, and seasoned faculty members, all of which contribute positively to my success as a graduate student. Coming straight from a BSc to a PhD, it was a very new experience for me. However, I have been exposed to a world of cutting-edge research, and it has been very rewarding. My professors are always willing to help and are very supportive, encouraging me to better myself. 

Graduate studies can be overwhelming at times, so it is necessary to foster good relationships with fellow grad students. I've found that they are always quick to offer words of encouragement, answer questions, and even help me relax and unwind. It is also important to choose a program that you're really interested in, so that even when results don't come out as expected, you will still have the drive to continue. The Health and Wellness Centre at UTSC, as well as Toronto Pan-Am Sports Centre are resources that I use often; they help me maintain a balance between my academic life and my physical and mental well-being. In addition, I love the serenity of the Scarborough campus. 

With my research in environmental science, I'm a lot more conscious about the environment around me and I like that I'm doing my bit to contribute to sustainable development. I would like to work as a researcher with the Ministry of the Environment after my PhD.


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