Environmental science graduate shares how she found her fit at SFU

June 09, 2023

When choosing what to study in university, environmental science graduate Kate May was not looking for a future desk job. “My dad pointed out that I would absolutely hate sitting at a desk all day, and suggested environment as a field of study,” says Kate.

After researching programs that fit her career goals, she enrolled in SFU’s environmental science program concentrating in applied biology. Through her studies, she also decided to minor in physical geography to broaden her knowledge of the environment.

Environment students may know Kate from her volunteer work on campus and her role on the executive team of the Geography Student Union (GSU) this past year. “I definitely wish I had joined sooner,” she says about her time with the GSU. “I gained technical skills, partook in events, and made lifelong friends.”

She was also a food rescue volunteer with Embark Sustainability, an EnvironMentor, and assisted at events like Know Your SFU.

“University is much more enjoyable when you have friends alongside you, and clubs and student unions are a fantastic place to find like-minded people with similar interests,” she says.

For her undergraduate honours thesis, Kate investigated an invasive clam species in the lower mainland and environmental factors behind their distribution. She researched current literature on the species and did field work with the Little Ecology Group, where she visited sites to check for clam presence along shorelines while recording data on environmental factors like water temperature and pH.

Recently, she presented her research at the Inter-Departmental Ecology of Aquatic Species (IDEAS) symposium. It was a great experience, she says, recalling the friendly and supportive atmosphere and interesting topics covered by other presenters.

Kate will be working full time in her field for a while before moving abroad for graduate studies. Eventually she plans to return, hoping to work with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada. “I’ll also consider doctorate studies, but that’s something for future me to worry about.”

For now, she would like to share her gratitude for the Environment community and the connections she made. “I’d also like to congratulate my fellow graduands that will be crossing the stage with me! We’ve made it!”