As someone who is admittedly STEM-oriented, Julia Stroud has a tendency to only gravitate toward things she is good at. At ULethbridge, she realized the best outcomes arise from making oneself uncomfortable in that context (and within reason). In diving headfirst into the world of research, she decided to make herself uncomfortable to try something she had no predisposition to, and she's glad she did as her career path has been positively changed.

I was intimidated by research, but I went out on a limb and applied to a lab, knowing that the worst that could happen was getting rejected. That is so much better than living the rest of my life wondering, ‘what if?!’

Meet Julia | Determined. Driven. Curious.
Program: Bachelor of Science | Major: Biochemistry

Why did you choose ULethbridge?

I chose Ulethbridge because of its affordability and smaller size. When I arrived on campus, I didn’t necessarily know what I wanted to study. The University has given me many opportunities to try different things with different labs and professors –– which, I assume, would be much more challenging in a larger school –– and has allowed me to figure out what I plan to do post-graduation. More generally, the smaller population of the UofL has also made my learning experience all the more fruitful in having more access to profs and more overlap with fellow students I take courses with (allowing for lasting acquaintances to be made). Overall, I am incredibly pleased that I decided to take my undergraduate studies through the University of Lethbridge –– I wouldn't have it any other way.

Did you know what you wanted to study before you came to ULethbridge? Has your academic plan changed since you began your studies?

Coming out of high school, I knew I wanted to study science or math; besides that, I really had no direction. I initially started in neuroscience, and as my career direction changed, I switched to biochemistry. This switch was one of the best decisions I have ever made with regard to my future and my interests.

Please tell us a bit about your experiential or work-integrated learning at ULethbridge.

I completed one co-op at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, where I worked with Dr. Nora Foroud on plant pathology during the summer of 2020 (remotely due to COVID-19). I have also participated in many independent studies and applied studies in both the Departments of Biological Sciences and Chemistry & Biochemistry, have done two summer research terms funded by AISS and NSERC, have attended and presented at many lab meetings and a few conferences, and, most recently gotten a job with counselling services through their Work-2-Learn program as a Sexual and Gender-Based Violence outreach member. I also tutor with the Accommodated Learning Centre when I can upon being recommended for a position by Dr. Schultz!

What is your most memorable ULethbridge experience so far?

My most memorable experiences at the University of Lethbridge so far, I think, have been my research experiences. In the Metz/Montina Lab, I participated in three studies and wrote three manuscripts (one of which has just been accepted by CMLS). I also wrote a manuscript to be submitted to Metabolites later this semester in the Wiseman Lab, where I am currently doing my undergraduate thesis. Through both lab experiences, I have been able to help out in many other studies and learn various techniques throughout my time there, supervised HYRS students, and worked on independently carried-out studies.

I have had such an incredible experience collaborating and learning from brilliant graduate students, made friends, learned a plethora of useful skills for my future endeavours, and, most importantly, have been able to determine what I would (and would not) like to do for a career. This knowledge ultimately led to my decision to pursue a thesis-based master's degree following graduation.

As I said, when I began my undergraduate experience, I was lost in what I wanted to do (and still am to some extent). I had ideas for career prospects that I discarded and changed as time progressed. Indeed, I thought that I would NEVER want to do research because it seemed like something that was far over my head (and therefore, not something to pursue); however, thanks to a few PIs and faculty at the University giving me a chance and working to give me as much insight into the world of research as possible at my level I have decided that research is something that I would like to continue to pursue.

How have your professors impacted your education?

MANY profs have changed my view on what I want to study and do with my life, for better or worse. Again, the small population of the University of Lethbridge allows one much more access to profs and TAs and such for advice and mentoring. In my second year, when I became particularly unsure of what I wanted to do and if what I wanted to do was for the right reasons, I talked to many profs whom I knew had different views on academia, science, and life policies. Through these interactions, I was able to narrow down my study prospects (switching to biochemistry because it was a better degree for what I wanted to do) and career prospects.

For Julia, the sky is no limit! Julia thrives in reaching for the stars. - Dr. Gerlinde Metz, Department of Neuroscience, nominated Julia as a Shining Student.

What is the most important lesson you have learned during your time at ULethbridge?

The most important lesson, BY FAR, is to step outside your comfort zone. As mentioned, I was intimidated by research, but I went out on a limb and applied to a lab, knowing that the worst that could happen was getting rejected. That is so much better than living the rest of my life wondering, “what if?!”  I find that, as someone who is STEM oriented, I tend to only gravitate toward things I am good at (and I know that many of us do this, ultimately because it is comfortable). But, I argue that the best outcomes arise from making oneself uncomfortable in that context (and within reason). Making myself "uncomfortable" in terms of trying something I had no predisposition to was one of the best decisions I have ever made. Comfort is great for some things, but there comes a time when comfort holds one back from what one can achieve.

What are your hopes/plans for the future?

As of now, I am hoping to pursue a thesis-based master's degree after I graduate. I plan to use a master's degree (partly) to see if I would like to pursue a career in research (either in academia or for companies or governments). Beyond that, I am unsure! I plan to take everything in stride and see where life takes me over the next couple of years.

What advice would you like to give those who are about to begin their journey at ULethbridge?

My advice would be to talk to profs as much as possible. Build relationships. Fight to put yourself out there and do things that may intimidate you (because the worst that happens is that you discover you do not want to pursue something as a result).

Quick Answers

Favourite class: Biochemistry 2000

Favourite social activity at ULethbridge: Conferences

Favourite place to study: At home

Photo submitted by Julia.

About Shining Students

Shining Students engage inside and outside of the classroom. What makes a student shine may differ from person to person, but they all share a passion for learning. They may be top students, involved in an innovative project, participating in ground-breaking research, playing Pronghorn athletics, fighting for social issues or all of the above! When students find something they enjoy and combine it with what they are good at, they shine.

Each year, the Faculty of Arts & Science's faculty and staff nominate students who exemplify the ULethbridge student spirit. Congratulations Julia!