"Through my work, I hope to develop resources for youth who are experiencing eco-anxiety so they feel hopeful for the future and empowered to engage in climate action."

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Judy Wu

January 18, 2024

doctoral student in the Faculty of Health Sciences

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

I am a second year PhD student in the Faculty of Health Sciences. I work in the Capturing Health and Resilience Trajectories (CHART) lab that works to improve youth well-being within BC. My current research combines two of my passions - climate action and youth mental health. Specifically, I want to understand how climate changes impacts youth mental health and well-being. My research also serves as a personal investigation into the many negative feelings, fears, and experiences related to climate change that I personally experienced during adolescence, and currently now as an adult. There are also few resources to help people who are adversely impacted by negative climate and environment related feelings. This motivates me as I believe my research is the first step in developing such resources.

Why did you choose to come to SFU?

During my Master of Public Health degree at the University of British Columbia, I had the opportunity to work with Dr. Hasina Samji on the Youth Development Instrument (YDI) survey project at SFU. The YDI is a survey aimed at identifying resources and opportunities to improve youth well-being within BC. During my practicum, I worked on developing the section related to climate change and other environmental issues. After my practicum, I continued working with the lab as a Research Assistant and had the opportunity to review and work with the data from the climate change and environmental issues section. I had many ideas to continue working with the data, thus further graduate training with the lab felt like a natural next step

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

I study the effects of climate change and other environment issues on youth mental health and well-being. Specifically, I am interested in the phenomenon of 'eco-anxiety,' a term that has been used to describe heightened negative emotions such as anxiety and sadness related to the climate and ecological crises. Through my work, I hope to develop resources for youth who are experiencing eco-anxiety so they feel hopeful for the future and empowered to engage in climate action.

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

Eco-anxiety, youth mental health, climate change

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

Teaching as a TA has helped develop my knowledge translation skills, especially during presentations. As a TA, I often end to think about the best way to present new concepts and information to those with little to no prior exposure to the topic. This had been a helpful exercise for me when preparing research presentations as it can be easy to forget that others, even if they're in a similar field, may not have the context and knowledge you possess for your own research.

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

Graduate Dean's Entrance Scholarship, SSHRC Doctoral Fellowship, Elizabeth Henry Scholarship

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

Don't forget to schedule in time for yourself to rest and recover, as well as time for fun! It can be so easy to get overwhelmed with work and skip vital practices for your well-being, but this will just negatively impact you in the long run. I alao try and schedule different well-being activities for myself well in advance to serve as a motivator for me to complete the work I need to do. If I plan for something far in the future, I can make sure I finish all the work I need to do beforehand so I can truly enjoy the activity. Its not very fun to hang out with friends or spend time on a hobby if you always feel like you need to get back to work.