"I chose to come to SFU because the MRM (Planning) program was one of a few graduate-level planning programs in Canada with a significant focus on the environment and climate change."

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Mieke Boecker

June 11, 2024

Master of Resource Management in the Faculty of Environment

Tell us a little about yourself, including what inspires you to learn and continue in your chosen field

I am a MRM (Planning) student, working under the supervision of Dr. Andréanne Doyon. What inspires me to learn is the very cliché idea of "creating a better future" or "improving life" (the motto of the University of Guelph, which is where I did my undergrad). Doing a master's in environmental planning feels like an opportunity to give back to the planet if we can find better, more resilient ways of "doing things", i.e., adjusting and adapting our systems and perspectives on current societal and environmental challenges.

Why did you choose to come to SFU?

I chose to come to SFU because the MRM (Planning) program was one of a few graduate-level planning programs in Canada with a significant focus on the environment and climate change. Another reason, is that the Department of Resource and Environmental Management (REM), in which the MRM (Planning) program is nested, is very interdisciplinary and actively seeks out opportunities for community collaboration to help make change "on the ground".

How would you describe your research or your program to a family member?

I would start with the fact that humans have always co-existed with nature and that we are currently struggling to maintain that co-existence in a mutually-beneficial way. In a nutshell, we need to re-connect and re-integrate nature into how our urban environments and systems function, from the individual property level all the way to the watershed level. Such approaches are called nature-based solutions. Specifically, my research is focused on how well urban forest management fulfills nature-based solutions and equitable governance criteria. I find this to be a very exciting area of research because every municipality or community has some form of an urban forest, meaning that every municipality or community has an opportunity to better manage and, subsequently, benefit from this nature-based solution. Making sure that we apply an equity lens to nature-based solutions of all kinds is crucial, and I'm hoping that my research will be able to contribute meaningfully to this area of research.

What three (3) keywords would you use to describe your research?

Nature-based solutions, Equity, Urban forestry

How have your courses, RA-ships, TA-ships, or non-academic school experiences contributed to your academic and/or professional development?

I have been lucky to receive a TA-ship during the second semester of my first year. Teaching tutorials and grading assignments for an undergraduate course taught me a lot about myself and the value of making education inspiring and accessible. I'm sure I will apply many of the presentation and communication skills I learned from this job in the future.

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

SSHRC CGSM: Receiving this award has been immensely helpful, both from an academic and financial standpoint.

What have been the most valuable lessons you've learned along your graduate student journey (or in becoming a graduate student)?

Three valuable lessons I have learned in my graduate journey so far include: don't be afraid to make new connections and reach out to others for help (it's normal to feel awkward or anxious about this, but it is always so rewarding and the best way to make new friends), try to do something outside of your studies that takes your mind off of your courses and your research (re-setting is so important), and remind yourself often that your grades and your degree do not define you (they are a part of your life, but not your whole life!).

How do you approach networking and building connections in and outside of your academic community?

I have only really attended one networking event, which was a PIBC (Planning Institute of BC and the Yukon) event back in the fall of 2023. There was a mix and mingle component for the planning students and practitioners to get to know each other. Being open-minded and listening to peoples' experiences has been the best springboard for conversation for me - it can help to mentally rehearse a bit what you want to say about yourself when you're asked to go over your education and work experience, but conversations tend to stray from the purely academic or professional anyways. So, getting to know others for who they are rather than what they do is the way I like to approach these types of events.

What are some tips for balancing your academic and personal life?

During my second semester, I discovered the joy of working as much as I could on campus in order to come home to a work free zone. This doesn't always work and sometimes I definitely prefer to work from my bedroom, but having that structured divide between university and my personal life was really nice sometimes.

Is there anything else you'd like to share?

In my free time, I love to work on my other passion, which is art and I've set up a little website to document some of the things I do. Feel free to check that out too!


Contact Mieke:mba220@sfu.ca

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Urban forests provide us with a host of co-benefits, such as microclimate regulation, stormwater management, wildlife habitat and ecological connectivity, physical and mental well-being, to name a few. This photo was taken during a tree inventory in Nelson, BC.