Blake Byron Walker receives Dean's Convocation Medal

June 06, 2013

In 2012, Vancouver experienced over 35,000 reported violent crimes, and innumerable unreported incidents. For his master's research, Blake Byron Walker studied violence as a public health issue and explored how we can use geographic information systems to make our cities safer.

Blake's research, under this year's grad studies supervision award winner Dr. Nadine Schuurman, used data collected in trauma hospitals to identify hotspots of violent injury in Vancouver. Using geographic information systems (GIS), he examined patterns in space, time, the built environment, victim age and sex, and weapons used to refine our understanding of the spaces in which urban violence takes place. (He explains it masterfully in his Three Minute Thesis entry, captured below.)

Dr. Nadine Schuurman, his supervisor, says, "Blake is a stellar student — he received a 4.0 GPA during his graduate course work to date. More importantly, he has developed a sophisticated program of research which includes analysis of the relationship between injury and the micro urban environment, including a hypothesis that inter-personal violence is related spatially to grafitti."

He's also been active in his department and at the university, serving as Treasurer for the Geography Graduate Student Association and teaching others as a tutor in SFU's Indigenous Student Centre.

Blake is continuing towards a PhD at SFU in the GIS and Health Informatics lab, shifting into cancer research and population health. He hopes to discover some of the ways in which people can live well in the face of health challenges.

On behalf of SFU, we congratulate Blake Byron Walker on his outstanding achievements which are being recognized with the award of the Dean of Graduate Studies Convocation Medal as one of SFU's most outstanding graduate students from the Faculty of Environment.

Below: Blake's presentation at SFU's Three Minute Thesis competition, spring 2013.

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