"when it came to choosing a school for graduate studies, it was evident that SFU was the place for me. Between the supportive community, interesting courses, and excellent research being done at the university, I knew I wanted to continue my academic career here."

Meet More Students in Environment


Curate your digital footprint

Want to be featured on our website? Complete our online submission form.

Submit your profile

Tyler Cole

January 01, 2024

Human Geography master's student in the Faculty of Environment

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

My name is Tyler Cole and I am a 2nd-year Human Geography (Health Geography by training) master's student. At SFU, I am researching how we can better utilize virtual technology for long-term care residents in the future to connect with their families and physicians. I would describe myself as somebody who loves to learn new things, is outgoing, and drinks a tad too much coffee. I would say that I am highly inspired to continue learning in my field of study becuase it allows me to explore health inequities across and within space. By doing so, I want to be able to support individuals and communities and identify individualized needs that best benefit their overall well-being.

Why did you choose to come to SFU?

Originally in my undergraduate degree, I came to SFU to play lacrosse for the school team. However, when it came to choosing a school for graduate studies, it was evident that SFU was the place for me. Between the supportive community, interesting courses, and excellent research being done at the university, I knew I wanted to continue my academic career here.

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

I would say the easiest and abridged way to describe my program is the understanding of how studying the geography of spaces as large as a region or as small as a building allows us to identify health inequities within them. Looking at the spatial distribution of resources/where one may reside can be an important facet in determining what is affecting their overall health. These phenomena can be seen in my research as something as minute as the strength of the internet connectivity can affect healthcare access or virtually meeting with family for two long-term care residents in different parts of the same care home.

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

Health equities Long-term care Telehealth

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

Being an RA at Fraser Health has allowed me to flourish as a health researcher. I have had the honour of collaborating with high-level healthcare academics who have supported me throughout graduate school. Through this position, I also have had the opportunity to internationally attend conferences to present my research and network with those in similar fields. Being a TA has also been a rewarding experience. Being able to teach in tutorials and sharing my knowledge has allowed me to be a better presenter and a better mentor. Aside from sharing my knowledge, I also find myself learning new facts and thought processes from my students that I have implemented in my own academic career.

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 have had the absolute honour of being able to receive the 2023 CIHR CGS-M award. Receiving this award was a massive personal accomplishment and has been a driver for wanting to pursue a Ph.D. in Public Health. Doing so can further my goal of being able to do meaningful research to help others in the future.

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

The most valuable lesson I have learned has been that it is okay to ask for help. Graduate school is no easy feat and can be extremely overwhelming at first. Therefore, I found it extremely worthwhile to ask the "duh" questions just to ensure I was on the right track. Making sure you are doing the right task can take a lot of stress off yourself.

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

On my end, I would say that when attending meetings or conferences, I like to always introduce myself and make a personal connection first before getting into academic talk. I believe that being able to connect on a personal level allows for better long-term partnerships as there can be conversations about potentially similar interests that can create a sense of companionship. When making connections outside of my academic community, I always like to draw parallels to the research the other person is doing (if possible) to better explain what I do.

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

For myself, I would say my biggest tip is to schedule yourself to work within a certain timeframe each day and allow breaks for calling/seeing your family, being with your partner/friends, and doing hobbies. Try not to overwork and burn yourself out and when needed take that break and go for a walk or do what you enjoy outside of your academic work. Sometimes being able to take a break for a little bit can be the best motivator for getting work done later/thinking of new ideas that don't come to you when you're sitting at your desk. My last piece of advice is just to take a few deep breaths sometimes, it's going to be okay.

If you could dedicate your research to anyone (past, present and/or future), who would that be and why?

In my life, I truly have so many important people to me that I could dedicate my research to. So to all my family, friends, and my partner. Thank you for your endless support. If I had to choose one, I would dedicate my research to my Nanna who passed away in 2017. She was forever my greatest cheerleader who pushed me to be my best and more.

Is there anything else you'd like to share?

I would like to thank my supervisor, Dr. Valorie Crooks. I would never have seen my potential nor have had the opportunities I have had as an academic without her.


Contact Tyler Cole:tyler_cole@sfu.ca

Additional Links