Robert Fougère, Ph.D. Student

Photo: Spencer Heyfron

What, exactly, are you studying?
I’m in a Ph.D. program to study cardio-electrophysiology.

It involves studying individual heart cells and the way they conduct electricity under a microscope. Eventually, I’ll be involved with drug design and preventing arrhythmias and stuff like that.

How did you get into that area?
I did an undergraduate degree in pharmacology. Then I took some time off and raced bicycles and worked in northern Alberta.

You raced bicycles?
I was actually doing triathlons—biking, running, and swimming—with the Canadian national team. It takes a lot of practice; I started swimming when I was a kid. I have a good natural talent and a unique physique; I’m six six and really lean. You can’t be very heavy and be a fast runner.

Why did you stop?
I ran out of money and ended up working the oil rigs in Alberta. My actual job title was “roughneck,” and I was connecting pieces of pipe together with giant wrenches. I hated it, but it paid really well. It’s super-dangerous; people lose fingers all the time. I only got minor cuts and bruises.

Robert Fougère, Ph.D. Student