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Student Profile: Tessa Williams
master's student in the Faculty of Health Sciences
I am a professional planner from Nova Scotia with a passion for making active transportation more approachable & enjoyable for all. Exploring my community by foot & bike brings me joy, but I recognize many others still face barriers to walking, rolling & cycling safely. I went back to school to develop the skills & expertise to change this.
WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO COME TO SFU?
I was drawn to the Greater Vancouver Area because of its reputation as a sustainability leader & its comprehensive cycling network. SFU was my top choice because it is home to the Cities, Health, & Active Transportation Research (CHATR) Lab led by Dr. Meghan Winters. Her work aligned with my areas of interest, & I was impressed by the emphasis on collaboration with decision makers such as city planners.
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR RESEARCH OR YOUR PROGRAM TO A FAMILY MEMBER?
My research is nested within the “Impact of Bicycle Infrastructure in Mid-sized Cities Study (IBIMS)” project, a partnership with local governments that investigates the impacts of bicycle investments over 2016-2022 in three mid-sized cities: Victoria, Kelowna, and Halifax. This study period captures the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, when cities responded by reallocating street space and implementing temporary active transportation projects. As the country transitions to a post-covid context, there is a real risk that political will to support new cycling infrastructure could wane. My research seeks to contribute evidence that is directly relevant to the decision makers responsible for designing, prioritizing and funding cycling facilities, in order to maintain the momentum for action on active transportation.
WHAT ARE YOU PARTICULARLY ENJOYING ABOUT YOUR STUDIES/RESEARCH AT SFU?
I thrive in interdisciplinary environments & the Faculty of Health Sciences at SFU has been an excellent fit in this regard. Through lectures & seminars, I get a chance to make connections with peers with different perspectives & learn new things.
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 was thrilled to receive the Michael Geller Graduate Scholarship in Urban Development. I plan to use this funding to support site visits to Victoria, Kelowna, & Halifax focused on experiencing the cities from the perspective of a cyclist. I know from my professional experience that desktop analysis only tells part of the story, & I am very grateful for the opportunity to use the funding to support experiential learning.