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- Engaging Citizens in Bike Lane Proposals: A Toronto Experience
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Damon Tarrant, Archaeology
Damon is combining his interest in both social and natural sciences in one of Canada’s top archaeology programs, here at SFU.
Now in his fourth year, Damon works as a research assistant in the Archaeology Isotope Lab analyzing samples of unidentified human remains to determine the person’s diet before their death. With this information, Damon helps determine if they are from a modern population, making them forensic, or a pre-colonial Indigenous community and archaeological.
If the remains are archaeological, the B.C. Coroner’s Office returns them to the Archaeology Branch so they can be repatriated to their communities for burial. Remains that are forensic continue to be investigated and may be sent for DNA tests to determine whether the individual has living relatives or is a match for a missing person.
“Through my studies I have been able to help close over 10 cases with the BC Coroners Service,” says Damon. “The work may not be overnight like in the TV shows, but we are able to make real change for people today.”
More impact than you think.
Jorrin Lenton, Environmental Science
Jorrin is studying environmental science because he wants a science degree that will prepare him for a career beyond an office and lab and takes him outside.
As a research assistant in the Murphy Watershed Science Lab at SFU, Jorrin works to protect B.C. communities from the aftereffects of wildfires.
He is focused on debris flows which are a result of soil becoming water repellent following fires. This allows water to flow over top of soil during rainstorms rather than being absorbed, which can trigger mass amounts of mud, water, rock and more to travel down hill at high speeds. These natural disasters threaten human life and important infrastructure in their paths and are a growing concern as wildfires increase in frequency and severity throughout the province.
Specifically, Jorrin studies how soil changes after wildfires and how this affects the likelihood of debris flows occurring. His work helps the Murphy Watershed Science Lab predict when and where debris flows occur and put preventative measures in place to protect communities.
More hands-on than you think.
Weichu Wu, Physical Geography
Unsure about what she wanted to study, Weichu started her undergraduate degree at SFU as a Business student because she thought it would give her a variety of career options. But, after taking a geography course as an elective, she knew she wanted to switch paths.
The next semester, she transferred into the Physical Geography program because it matched Weichu’s appreciation for natural environments while offering exciting career opportunities.
She studies topics like climate change and Earth system dynamics and explores interactions between air, land, water, and organisms to better understand how natural environments impact us, and how we are altering Earth’s systems.
“Physical geography gives me chances to connect with nature while I learn about it. I can learn how the rivers and mountains are formed and how they affect surrounding environments. The students in these classes also love nature so I’ve met some great friends.”
More potential than you think.
Gabrielle Wong, Human Geography
In her high school geography class, Gabrielle noticed her course material often related to current events and topics like population health, social justice movements, and more.
Now at SFU, Gabrielle chose to study Human Geography because she wanted an education that would help her build a deep understanding of the world and provide career flexibility. “Having this breadth means there is always something new to learn and explore,” says Gabrielle.
She is putting classroom knowledge to practice while on a co-op semester at Environment and Climate Change Canada as a junior policy analyst in the Innovation and Youth Engagement Division.
Here, Gabrielle empowers youth to be climate advocates through education and networking and conducts research on how youth are engaging with climate advocacy.
“Climate change is a frequent topic in Geography courses which gave me a good foundation for this position. On our team, we work on projects that examine how youth are responding to climate change and give them the tools to engage in climate action, advocacy, and everyday sustainability measures.
More influence than you think.
Abigail Herd, Global Environmental Systems
Abigail chose the Global Environmental Systems (GES) program because she liked that it would expose her to a variety of topics and open doors to many different opportunities.
Leaning into the program’s interdisciplinary nature, Abigail worked as a research assistant for professor Rosemary Collard in the Extinction Paradox Lab at SFU combining her knowledge of data analysis, resource management and policy to compare forecasted and actual economic benefits of coal mines in critical habitat of endangered caribou in B.C..
This work is crucial as governments approve industrial projects, like coal mines, if the economic benefits outweigh potential negative outcomes. But actual monitoring of economic benefits is not required, leaving the door open to question the economic value of the project, and whether the impact on the environment or animals, like caribou, is justified.
“The approval of major industrial projects in B.C. and Canada is generally based on the government’s opinion that the project will benefit the public interest,” says Abigail. “It’s possible the economic benefits of the project won’t materialize in full, and culturally valuable species such as caribou are severely impacted, as is the case in Treaty 8 territory.”
More local than you think.
Paige Hunter, Resource and Environmental Management
Paige was drawn to the interdisciplinary nature of the Resource and Environmental Management (REM) program. Making connections between government and industry and understanding the intersections between economics, climate justice, policy, and ecology has helped Paige prepare for a variety of career opportunities.
Paige’s passion for climate education led her to join SFU350, a student-led climate activism group, where she developed climate education programs and materials for SFU students, staff, and faculty. As a research assistant with SFU’s Action on Climate Team (ACT) she has explored the intersection of climate justice and nature-based solutions to climate change. This led to her honours thesis, comparing wildfire recovery policy between BC, California, and New South Wales.
Her leadership both on and off campus gave her the opportunity to attend the United Nations’ COP27 in Egypt as a student delegate.
“In REM we learn about the different levels of environmental and climate decision-making, whether by local governments or the United Nations,” says Paige. “Being able to witness international climate negotiations and connect with youth from around the globe has shown me how many diverse climate solutions we can accelerate right now.”
Paige is now applying her knowledge of geographic information science (GIS), policy, and ecology on a co-op work term with the Department of National Defense and the Canadian Armed Forces as an Environmental GIS Technician, protecting species at risk and making Army operations more sustainable.