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Songs with a sci-fi theme are among the passions of song-writer, musician and pharmacist Brooke Lunderville - photo by Martin Dee
Songs with a sci-fi theme are among the passions of song-writer, musician and pharmacist Brooke Lunderville - photo by Martin Dee

UBC Reports | Vol. 53 | No. 5 | May 3, 2007

A Banjo on Her Knee

Pharm Sci Grad Loves to Strum, and Help Patients

By Hilary Thomson

If you pick up your prescription from Brooke Lunderville, you may get some impromptu musical medicine.

“I sometimes sing a few bars for some of the patients -- it’s a bit of an ice-breaker, if they’re feeling anxious or sick,” says the Pharmaceutical Sciences grad, who is also a songwriter and musician.

The Vancouver native began a career as a licensed stockbroker, specializing in ethical investing, but after about five years started looking for something new. She happened to get some expert assistance from a community pharmacist and was sufficiently impressed to pursue pharmacy as a career. She spent two years completing pre-requisites for admission by working 6:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at a brokerage and taking classes in the afternoon and evening.

“When I finished my courses, working full-time just seemed like a vacation.”

In 2003, she married into a musical family. Her husband Joseph’s parents play guitar and enjoy folk music. Lunderville had played some guitar and discovered a lonely banjo at her in-laws’ house that she taught herself to play. It’s now her passion -- she plays regularly, including performances at her church.

Her instrument of choice is a banjola, a hybrid with the neck of a banjo and the body of a large mandolin, or mandola. Also included in her collection, “a serious case of banjoitis,” are three more banjos and three guitars.

A science fiction aficionado since childhood, she has managed to integrate her two passions by getting involved in a musical genre called Filk music, which references science fiction plots and personas in the lyrics. With a guitar-playing friend, she has created a “dorky filk duo,” and recently performed at a major sci-fi convention in Seattle.

She has also transformed Pharm Sci course content into music with songs about peptides, ribosomes and flaccid amino acids.  She says her compositions “mug her in the middle of the night,” so that she has to get up and write them down immediately.

Although her broker days are pretty much behind her -- “If I had money to invest in stocks, I wouldn’t have any student loans!” -- she has given fellow students presentations on finance and has ghostwritten a tax advice column.

Lunderville speaks of two mentors in the faculty -- Marguerite Yee, with whom she shared tea and conversation every month for four years, and James McCormack, who changed the way she looks at pharmacy, encouraging a critical view of the marketing hype surrounding many medications.

After graduation, the 26-year-old will vacation in France and then start work at community pharmacy in New Westminster.

“I love community pharmacy,” she says.” I like getting to know patients over a period of time, and helping them find a better place with their health.”

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My Best UBC Memories

“What I’ll remember most about UBC is getting dressed up in my pressed pharmacy lab coat, strapping on my banjo and going to play outside the SUB for Pharmacy Awareness Week.”

Audio Icon Listen to Audio (.mp3 | 116KB | Length: 0:16)

Take as Needed: The Pills

The four members of Pharm Sci’s own rock band, The Pills, will be graduating this month, after more than three years of playing everything from covers of the Ramones and Tom Jones, to original songs. Glen Austen handles vocals and guitar; Dan Buschert plays bass; Vince Lin is on keyboard and piano and Eugenia Yeh is the drummer.

The group claims, “What we lack in technical prowess musically, we deliver in passion and volume.” Featured entertainers at various pharmacy events and galas, the group was a finalist in 2005 in UBC’s annual Battle of the Bands.

The Pills have recorded an EP called “Rock A.T.C.” which is now a collectors’ item since the band breaks up after their final gig at the Pharmacy Grad 2007 Banquet.


Last reviewed 03-May-2007

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