"SFU itself has an incredibly active student body, and I have never found the student community as a whole unapproachable or exclusive. "

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Student Profile: Chuqiao Huang

September 13, 2021

Earth Sciences doctoral student in the Faculty of Science

Hey all, I am a 3rd year Earth Sciences PhD student doing my project in sedimentary geology, geochronology, and tectonics. I am also passionate about community outreach, and working with youth. When I'm not in the middle of Vancouver Island hunting down rocks, I enjoy playing music, rock climbing, and reading.

WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO COME TO SFU?

Funny story - when I was applying for Grad School, my supervisor was the only one out of about five that responded to me quickly. Everyone else’s month + response times made me nervous! At the time, I wasn’t too sure about my life direction, career goals, or even what SFU had to offer that other universities could not. What I did know was that Vancouver seemed exciting and outdoorsy, and that appealed to me over other cities. It wasn’t until much later (well after arriving) that I began to understand what I wanted out of my degree, and appreciate the opportunities afforded to me here. Most people go through a similar process, yeah?

HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR RESEARCH OR YOUR PROGRAM TO A FAMILY MEMBER?

Earth Sciences is like History, but for the Earth instead of people. Because certain rocks only for in certain environments, it's possible to walk up to a cliff, "read the rocks" from bottom to top, and understand what that place on the Earth's surface was like in the past, and how it changed through time. I'm using Geology to uncover the history of Vancouver Island from 160 to 75 million years ago. Vancouver Island is near a subduction zone, which is where an oceanic plate is forced under a continental plate. Hundreds of millions of people around the world live near subduction zones. I hope to extrapolate the geological history of Vancouver Island to other subduction zones around the world, in order to understand how subduction zones pose unique risks and economic opportunities to the people living near them.

WHAT ARE YOU PARTICULARLY ENJOYING ABOUT YOUR STUDIES/RESEARCH AT SFU?

My supervisor, lab, and faculty have also been incredibly supportive and helpful in every way imaginable. From career advice to peer support, they have been with me every step of the way during grad school. SFU itself has an incredibly active student body, and I have never found the student community as a whole unapproachable or exclusive. As well, there are no shortage of opportunities to join meaningful causes that engage with communities outside the university. I also eat at Veggie Lunch like 3 times a week and bring everyone that visits me there (I really hope they will restart after the pandemic.) Finally, Vancouver is an excellent place to live - even after 5 years, there's no shortage of new places to explore. How many places in the world can you be in the heart of a modern city one hour, and in pristine wilderness the next?

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 an NSERC CGS-D (Alexander Graham Bell award). Because of this, I no longer need to worry about my finances while studying and doing research. As well, funding has been significantly freed up in my lab for more sample processing and field work.

HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR PROGRAM/POSTDOC POSITION TO SOMEONE STILL SEARCHING FOR A PROGRAM OR POSTDOC POSITION?

My PhD is intense, demanding, and challenging - this is also what makes it worthwhile, meaningful, and fulfilling. I am afforded an incredible amount of freedom over what research questions I would like to answer, and I am provided with the logistical support to make my ideas happen. This is why I feel like I am ultimately working for myself, towards a career of my own choosing!

 

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