Bhavesh Gnnanapareddy, an international student pursuing an undergraduate degree in physics from India was visiting Dr. Gino DiLabio’s research group at UBCO as part of a Mitacs Globalink Research Internship. While there, he ran into Dr. Robert Szilagyi at a campus coffee shop and struck up a conversation about their shared research interests. Talking with Dr. Szilagyi about their research in experimental and theoretical chemistry piqued Gnnanapareddy’s interest and he eventually asked Dr. Szilagyi if he could do his final year project with him, since he had the opportunity to do the project internationally as part of his program.”
Gnnanapareddy’s route to Canada—and UBCO—came via the university’s Visiting International Research Students’ (VIRS) program, which admits international students to UBC to conduct research full-time under the supervision of a faculty member. VIRS is an ideal pathway for amazing research-focused students to come to UBCO and complement their degree at home,” explains Dr. Dana Lowton, Assistant Director of UBCO’s GoGlobal. “Students like Bhavesh are a perfect example of why we have these unique research pathways.” Since 2014, UBC has welcomed over 2,500 VIRS students from over 650 universities and 85 different countries.
Eager to get a head start on his project, Gnnanapareddy arranged weekly meetings with Dr. Szilagyi in the lead-up to his arrival in Canada. The pair met online for two hours per week for four months; the 13-hour time difference between Kelowna, BC, and Hyderabad, India, didn’t bother either of them. “I gave Bhavesh data and programs to play with, so he could manipulate the data sets . . . By the end of the four months, Bhavesh reached a point where he had a rough outline for a potential scientific publication,” said Dr. Szilagyi. Dr. Szilagyi says VIRS can jumpstart an international student’s graduate research career while benefiting professors as well. “VIRS has allowed me to have Bhavesh in my lab before he even decides to pursue a master’s degree, so he can get to know me and my group.
Already impressed by his experience with Dr. DiLabio during his Mitacs internship—which focused on theoretical and computational chemistry research—combined with his experimental work with Dr. Szilagyi, Gnnanapareddy decided to apply for UBCO’s Master of Science in Chemistry. He was accepted into the program just as he arrived in Canada to complete his final year project through VIRS; he will work with both Dr. DiLabio and Dr. Szilagyi, combining theoretical and experimental work to expand on his previous research. “I’m located on this beautiful campus, I’ve received a Mitacs scholarship and funding from UBCO, and I’m working on something I’m passionate about,” Gnnanapareddy says. “It can’t get much better than this, and it all started with a random, funny meeting.”
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Through Strategy 19: Global Networks, UBC is helping students, faculty and staff broaden their perspectives, learn from peers and colleagues around the globe, and contribute to a shared positive impact, through collaboration, at home and abroad.