UBC Logo Steven Samuel Plotkin, Associate Professor at UBC
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Openings in The Plotkin Research Group at UBC

We are currently accepting applications for:

  • 1 Graduate Student
  • Graduate students with fellowships
  • Post-docs with fellowships
  • Undergraduates for Thesis Projects (see below for details)

General Information

The Plotkin Research Group at UBC regularly seeks excellent students and post-doctoral fellows with outstanding academic records, and more importantly an unrelenting curiosity along with the motivation to experiment and investigate the consequences of a new idea.

Our  group members enjoy an exciting and interactive lab atmosphere, access to state-of-the-art computational resources, and the option for extensive collaborations with other research groups in physics and the health sciences.  If you are a talented and self-motivated student or PDF who is interested in having a career in biophysics, one the fastest growing interdisciplinary research areas in the sciences, you may wish to consider joining us. We do research at the interface of experiment, computation, and theory, and recruit students from all areas. We welcome NSERC and other scholarship holders and provide top-ups.

I regularly get a large volume of emails from prospective students inquiring about possible positions in my lab and cannot answer all of these in a timely fashion. I have thus compiled the following basic information that prospective students should read thoroughly before emailing me. Please note that I am unable to respond to emails inquiring about information that can already be accessed here.



  • Information on The Plotkin Research Group projects:
    Please visit the links on my website where you can read about current research projects and download published papers.  
  • Information on the Physics & Astronomy Department's graduate admission process:
    Please refer to the Physics & Astronomy Graduate Admissions webpage for minimum requirements, application procedures and forms and deadlines.   
    • To join my research group, you first must be accepted to the UBC graduate program which has its own requirements. These are detailed on the graduate webpage, or you can contact the graduate secretary (gradsec (AT) physics.ubc.ca) or graduate chair Hirohisa Tanaka (tanaka (AT) phas.ubc.ca) for more details or guidance through the process.
    For any questions related to special circumstances such as meeting minimum requirements, exemptions, deadline extensions, or any specific situations, please direct your inquiries to our graduate office.
  • Should I apply as an M.Sc. or Ph. D student?
    Students in the Canadian system typically start in the Masters of Science program. There is the option to directly transfer to the Ph.D. Program after 2 years.
  • How do I indicate my interest in working with you?
    You can indicate my name as a potential supervisor with whom you would like to work, which allows the admissions committee to identify your interest in my research group.
  • Is it hard to get accepted into the group?
    The application process is quite competitive. A very limited number of positions are available at any given time. Students holding a scholarship have a much better chance for admission. High quality publications and/or excellent prior academic performance are important considerations for admission to the department and to my lab.
  • What skills are most applicable to the research being done in the group?
    For theoretical students: A strong background in physics, particularly in statistical mechanics and/or biophysics, and strong computer coding skills. Knowledge in biology or biochemistry helps significantly, but is not a prerequisite.  For joint experimental/theory students:  Experience with at least some molecular biology techniques, including molecular cloning, DNA isolation/purification, recombinant-protein expression and purification, and gel electrophoresis-- or experience with biophysical techniques, including fluorescence/CD spectroscopy, FRET, mass spec, atomic force microscropy, calorimetry, or NMR.   In all cases, familiarity with the Linux operating system and a coding language such as Python, Matlab, C++, or Fortran is strongly preferred.
  • Does admission mean I have financial support?
    Yes, it is our department's policy that all students who are accepted to our graduate program are guaranteed some financial support. Information for physics and astronomy graduate students is here.
  • Will I have to apply for a fellowship to work in your group?
    Generally yes, at this time a significant fraction of my group has held or are currently holding fellowships. I encourage all my students to be proactive in applying for funding, given the large number of funding opportunities available, including:
  • How can I inquire about the status of my application?
    Please contact our graduate office directly. I have no access to the files until they are approved by the admissions committee as complete and admissible.
  • How should I follow up on my application?
    You may wish to contact me to let me know that you have applied after you've received notice that your application is complete, then I can check it once applications are circulated to faculty members for consideration.
  • Why UBC? (http://www.grad.ubc.ca/prospective-students/why-choose-ubc-graduate-study)

Both domestic and foreign students in physics should consider UBC Vancouver as a fantastic place to work. Here are some reasons of my own why physics students in particular should come and work here:

  • Our graduate enrollment has indicated recent dramatic growth in our department.
  • Around 25-30% of our graduate students generally hold external awards.
  • Almost every major country is represented by our graduate student body, which currently is 53% Canadian, 47% International.


  • Information on the Plotkin Research Group projects:
    Please visit the links on my website where you can read about current research projects and download published papers  
  • General Requirements for Admission to the Plotkin Group as a PDF
    • Applications for post-doctoral researchers are generally very competitive, and a track record of prior research including (first-author) publications in high-impact, prestigious journals is a prerequisite.
    • Recently-graduated PDFs are preferred over 2nd post-docs.

  • Do I need my own funding?
    Generally PDFs will need their own funding at the time of their application, or will need to successfully apply for a fellowship coordinated with their arrival at UBC. There are several fellowship opportunities including: 

Please contact me if you would like to apply for one of the above fellowships coordinated with your arrival to UBC


  • Does the Plotkin lab offer undergraduate research positions?
    Due to the advanced nature of our research, undergraduate positions are geared towards Senior UBC undergraduates (PHYS 449 or otherwise) with either: 1) Strong background in physics and strong computer-coding skills, or 2) Strong interest in molecular genetics experiments, and a commitment to spend time in the lab carrying out these expeiments. As an interdisiplinary group we encourage applicants from biology, chemistry, and physics backgrounds. PHYS 449 students are encouraged to continue in the summer as NSERC's USRA fellows
  • Does the Plotkin lab accept visiting students?
    Typically not as we are not able to accommodate visiting students except in exceptional circumstances.  However, outstanding, self-funded students who are interested in staying for longer periods are encouraged to contact me if there is a fit within a specific project in our lab.




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