When Extraordinary meets Ordinary: Profiling Daniel Luo

By Cristyn Fung, Admin Team                                                                      

Although Centre for Blood Research (CBR) member Daniel Luo describes himself as a “typical 25-year old who plays games, reads books, listens to podcasts and socializes at the pub”, his passion for research, work ethic on committees, and optimistic mindset is anything but ordinary. As a PhD student in the Kizhakkedathu Lab, Daniel has made the most of some amazing opportunities. In this CBR member profile we investigate how he’s able to juggle the challenges of graduate school while organizing events, working as a teacher’s assistant, and being a member of a variety of committees, including acting as president of the CBR Health & Wellness Committee. Daniel even occasionally finds the time for crafts, baking, and painting. “How can one person do so much?” you may ask. Read on!

Daniel Luo with a tardigrade

Daniel’s drive to be actively involved in his community stems from a desire to give back as much as he has received, if not more. As a Chemistry student, Daniel is actively involved in the department’s student associations dedicated to improving the quality of life on campus. For example, as part of the Chemistry Graduate Student society (CGSS) Initiative Committee, Daniel helped establish an award to recognize science outreach in the department. He also successfully executed a long-form mental wellbeing study in the Chemistry Department to identify points of concern for the graduate student body. Daniel encourages not only community involvement, but also professional development. As part of the CGSS, he helped organize the Chemistry Career Information Event for graduate students to network and consider professions outside of academia. Alongside this event, Daniel helped organize workshops focusing on professional skills such as “Panic to Power”, “Resumé-building”, and “Salary Negotiation”.

Daniel’s victory pose after a successful hike

Daniel mixes his love for musicals, breweries, and nature into his graduate life. Yearly, he helps organize a myriad of amazing events: Bard on the Beach, Brew-Off, and Trivia Night for students to help relieve their stress. As president of the CBR Health & Wellness Committee, Daniel believes that mental health is just as important as physical health. In his free time, Daniel makes sure to take care of his own physical health and enjoys hiking and running. He even has a goal to run a half-marathon one day! Through these hobbies, Daniel has met new people and learned more about different activities. “You have to go in without an agenda and just put yourself out there,” Daniel says. He advises others to be open to trying new things when an opportunity arises. It’s all about serendipity! For example, Daniel enjoys baking and shares this life skill with children by volunteering at kid camps. His artistic interests include painting, drawing and crafting pieces such as glitter canvases, costumes, and paintings. Currently, he’s working on painting a park bench! Why not follow in his steps? He notes, “You can’t be sure if you don’t like something until you try it.” That is definitely some sage life advice we should all live by.

Daniel’s recent artwork

The secret to success in graduate school? Daniel advises: “Time management is an essential skill. You have to learn when you are taking on too much work and when to say no. It might be difficult at first but it’s how you’ll grow and maintain trust with your supervisor and/or PI.” He also recommends removing yourself from school (e.g. by not staying in the lab or on campus for too long) and building a supportive community with those who hold similar values (e.g. within your lab or by joining clubs). The challenge with graduate school Daniel says, is that it’s an “environment where you have to strive to be your best” so “try to see yourself as not just a scientist, and to take the time to figure out your life beyond that.”

So, if you are looking for a study buddy, an arts and crafts friend, or just need great life advice, then look no further than Daniel Luo!