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Students, Environmental Science, Convocation
Memorable field experiences and research opportunities prepare environmental science honours alumnus for career in life sciences
Environmental science honours alumnus Connor Furman has always been interested in life sciences. Growing up, Connor was involved in Scouts and did a lot of camping. “I think [it] began with [this] exposure to nature and the outdoors at a young age,” he says.
In high school his interest translated into strong grades in biology and his teacher encouraged him to continue his education in the subject. “My inclination was more towards studying organisms, populations and ecosystems as opposed to microbiology, which led me towards the applied biology concentration,” he explains.
Between multiple co-ops and extra-curricular activities, Connor has gained a wealth of valuable and diverse experiences in the field to prepare for his career. He took a capstone course where he designed a project with realistic time and budget constraints, and completed three different co-ops, which he says greatly expanded his skill set. Living on his own and working full time for the first time also helped him feel better prepared for when he takes a permanent position.
His most memorable experience is the work he did studying aquatic invasive species as part of a small team with Fisheries and Oceans Canada. That summer, Connor helped plan and carry out experiments in both the lab and in the field on the invasive European Green Crab (Carcinus maenas).
Connor is proudly a recipient of the NSERC Undergraduate Student research Award. Under Frank Gobas, an environmental toxicologist and professor in SFU’s School of Resource and Environmental Management, he conducted research and work on organic pollutant sampling.
While reflecting on his time at SFU, Connor says it was the dedication of Frank Gobas and other teaching faculty that stands out. “Many of my courses with challenging subject matter were made easy by professors who were approachable and enthralled with the topic,” he says.
Connor is eager to start working. After speaking with faculty, advisors, and co-workers about various career paths he can pursue with his education, he was pleasantly surprised by the variety. His pool of work experiences has yielded some insight in that area as well — “I have a good idea of what I'd like to do based on my co-op experiences,” he says.