TA Spotlight – Wayne Zhao

Photo source: Wayne Zhao

Wayne Zhao is currently a PhD candidate in the Devine lab at the UBC Centre for Blood Research. He completed his undergraduate degree at the University of Toronto, specializing in immunology, then moved to Vancouver and earned a Master of Science degree at UBC in the Department of Experimental Medicine.

Wayne’s research area is in transfusion and blood component management. Currently, all platelets used for transfusions are stored at room-temperature for only 7 days, but this short storage time leads to significant product wastage. Wayne’s research is focused on investigating how platelets change when stored at low temperatures to better understand how lower temperature conditions can be used to extend platelet functionality beyond 7 days of storage.

Wayne is currently a TA for the newly redesigned BIOL 140 course (Laboratory Investigations in Life Science) and was a TA for the same course in 2020W1.

What opportunities relating to teaching and learning have you been a part of?

As a TA at UBC, I have been part of the BioTAP program, and I frequently participate in their training workshops to develop my skills as a TA. In addition, I completed the Instructional Skills Workshop (ISW) for graduate students. This intensive seminar has given me a lot of fundamental knowledge about teaching, and these skills have become handy when teaching online, as student engagement is often low.

What do you most enjoy about being a TA?

I enjoy talking to students the most. As a graduate student, I find that I rarely get a chance to speak to undergraduate students when I’m in the lab. The students that I work with are passionate and have lots of question about graduate and professional schools. I very much enjoy sharing my experiences with them and hearing about their plans for the future. Students are also very enthusiastic to hear about my research. This is an especially valuable experience for me, as I often share my research only with an expert audience. When talking to undergraduate students, I get the chance to practice my lay science communication skills.

What has been an interesting outcome of your TA experience?

After being a TA, I am starting to learn how rewarding teaching can be. I didn’t realize this point until I started TA’ing. Working with the instructor and other TAs made me realize how important teamwork is in teaching. At the same time, I feel really good when I help students understand a problem or overcome an obstacle.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I actually have an interest in automobile engineering. I am not an experienced mechanic at all, but I do like to work on my car at home myself. For example, a group of my friends and I would fiddle with our cars in the summer to make them more fun to drive. Once in a while we will also bring our cars to a local racetrack (Mission Raceway Park) for a fun track day. On my days off, I like searching and planning for performance upgrade parts for my car.

What are your plans following graduation?

This is an interesting question. After becoming a TA, I have started to seriously consider becoming an instructor in the future. Seeing how important an instructor is in undergraduate teaching, as well as how fun and rewarding the work can be, I am very intrigued to explore teaching as a future career. In addition, I really love the research that I do, so I’m also considering becoming a post-doctoral fellow to further pursue my research. Finally, as our lab is affiliated with the Canadian Blood Services, I have also developed an interest in blood product management.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Spam prevention powered by Akismet