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Student Profile: Vimbikayi Rachel Chimuka
Geography doctoral student in the Faculty of Environment
I am an international student from Zimbabwe in the first year of my PhD. in Geography. I came to Canada to pursue an undergraduate degree in Environmental Science. Although I enjoyed my undergraduate journey, I always felt like I did not fit in with others in my program. I am not an outdoor person, so I often struggled during field trips, whilst my peers were delighted that they did not have to spend all their time indoors! So, after reflecting on my undergraduate experience, and equipped with a deep fascination and sense of responsibility for our Earth, I applied for an MSc. in Geography working in the Climate Research Lab - this is where I fell in love with climate modeling. I am now pursuing my third degree in the same research lab and I have no regrets! Outside of my academic career, my passions include health and spiritual wellness, climate justice and EDI. When I need to de-stress, I enjoy playing tennis, swimming, composing music and learning Afro and hiphop dance choreography.
WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO COME TO SFU?
My supervisor played a major role in my decision to continue at SFU. Her vast experience in the field of climate science and her detail-oriented yet motivating approach to supervision and mentorship made me stay. I also value the high quality of academic literature that comes out of her research lab, and appreciate the warmth and companionship of the lab members.
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR RESEARCH OR YOUR PROGRAM TO A FAMILY MEMBER?
Atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations are increasing at unprecedented rates, warming our Earth and making our climate more extreme. Emissions scenarios - proposed future trajectories of CO2 concentration that are consistent with our climate targets - include the use of technologies to remove CO2 from the atmosphere and bury it deep underground. These emissions scenarios are designed assuming that if we emit 1 tonne of CO2 into the atmosphere, we can exactly offset that by removing 1 tonne of CO2, but this is likely not the case. My research, therefore, analyses how the climate system responds to equal amounts of emissions and removals of CO2, and quantifies the extent to which the land carbon responses to emissions and removals differ.
WHAT ARE YOU PARTICULARLY ENJOYING ABOUT YOUR STUDIES/RESEARCH AT SFU?
Like many others, I started graduate school shortly before the pandemic. I am overwhelmed by the support I have received from my supervisor and several faculty members in my department. An academic support system is so important in graduate school, and this is where I have found mine. I have particularly enjoyed my role as the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Graduate Representative in both the Geography Graduate Association and Departmental EDI committee. I appreciate the community and support, and I have learnt so much about leadership, advocacy and self-care.
HAVE YOU BEEN THE RECIPIENT OF ANY MAJOR OR DONOR-FUNDED AWARDS? IF SO, PLEASE TELL US WHICH ONES AND A LITTLE ABOUT HOW THE AWARDS HAVE IMPACTED YOUR STUDIES AND/OR RESEARCH.
I received the Special Graduate Entrance Scholarship for my MSc. degree, then received the Graduate Dean’s Entrance Scholarship in 2021 and the Vanier CGS Scholarship in 2023 for my PhD. Each of the awards motivated me to continue on my research journey and provided me the financial support I needed to focus on my research and excel.
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