Max Jones is on track to make UBC history this June as the first student to complete an entire PhD at UBC’s Okanagan campus.
Although students have completed PhDs in past years at the Okanagan campus after transferring from other universities, this will be the first time a doctoral degree will be presented to a student who began and ended their studies at the Okanagan campus.
“I was pretty excited when I found this out,” says Jones, who grew up in Elora, Ontario and will receive his PhD in biology. “I am honoured to be the first graduate and hope to represent UBC’s Okanagan campus well in my future professional endeavours.”
Jones’ main area of research focused on evaluating the immense diversity found among different types of breadfruit—a high-yielding staple food crop that grows in the wet tropics.
“As food prices and world hunger continue to rise, there is an increasing global need for increased production of nutritious staple foods such as breadfruit,” says Jones. “These studies provide the framework to deliver high-yielding elite cultivars of breadfruit with superior nutritional value, improved fruit qualities, and complementary fruiting seasons to the wet tropics.”
Jones says he enjoyed the intimate academic experience offered at UBC’s Okanagan campus, and believes it helped enhance his educational pursuits and foster inter-lab collaboration. He notes he was offered ample research and travel opportunities, including field work in Hawaii and field courses in both Florida and Samoa. Jones also had the opportunity to conduct some chemical analysis at a United States Department of Agriculture lab in Oxford, Mississippi, and attended a number of academic conferences throughout North America.
Jones’ future plans include the completion of a post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Guelph, where he will work to develop disease-resistant American elm trees. Although his sights are firmly set on what lies ahead, Jones says he will always look back fondly at time spent at UBC’s Okanagan campus.