Congratulations, Sandy Lapsky!


Congratulations to our Department Administrator, Sandy Lapsky, for being awarded a 2014 UBC President’s Staff Award! A UBC Alumna herself, Sandy is often referred to as the glue that holds our department together; we’re very excited that she’s receiving recognition for all her hard work.

Outgoing Execs Post-GSA Plans

Left to Right: Holly, Brittany, James, Rachel, Blake, Sejal, Joanna [Devin, VP Social not pictured] 

The 2013-2014 Geography Students’ Association Executives were like a family– both to one another and the Department of Geography. They’ve planned wonderful and exciting events including seasonal beer gardens, DIY workshops, and of course, the annual GeoGala. Some are graduating while others have filled their timetable with new and exciting plans for next year, so we’ve asked some of them to share what the future holds…

Brittany Jang (VP-Academic): “This summer I plan to continue working at the AMS and volunteering in and around the community. But with my new found free time I hope to finally get into shape and spend as much time as possible catching up with friends and family. Later in the summer I’ll be visiting Hong Kong and Tokyo with my family, before coming home to my last month in Vancouver before I leave for grad school in the fall.”

James Wang (VP-Finance): “After writing my last exam of undergrad, I just felt a huge load being lifted off my shoulders. Just like that, four years of university was over. I swear it was just yesterday that I was still in high school awaiting an acceptance letter from UBC. But alas, it is now time to move on. After finishing my last exam, I took a couple days to collect myself, to reflect on the magnificent journey that was life as a UBC student. While studying for exams, I spent some time revising my resume and cover letter and started applying for jobs. The Vancouver Aquarium was one of the places I applied, and after going through the hiring process of telephone and in-person interviews, I got the position of membership sales associate.

I will be working full time starting May 23 and I could not be happier to be doing so especially since the Vancouver Aquarium is a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified institution. Being an Environment & Sustainability major, I can see myself learning a lot from one of the worldwide leaders in environmental stewardship. I contemplated taking a couple months off but decided ultimately that working was the best option.”

Rachel Schott (VP-Sustainability): “This summer, I’ll have graduated from UBC’s Geography program with a major in Environment and Sustainability. Although this marks the end of my undergraduate degree, I plan on continuing my education through graduate or law school – which I’ll be applying to later this year. In the meantime, I’ll be working at Edible Canada on Granville Island where I serve locally made food and products. I also plan on reading the Lord of the Rings series and unlocking all the characters in Super Smash Bros Melee for Nintendo Gamecube.

Blake Allen (Co-President): “This summer, I plan to spend more time developing and exploring my interest in sustainability by pursuing related work as well as continuing to write about cities and urban development. As an avid homebrewer, I’ve already made several new and innovative beers this summer, and I plan to continue improving my technique, to refine my recipe design; I hope to submit beers into Canadian homebrewing competitions in the near future. Most recently, I’ve made a Spruce Tip IPA that carries the terroir of the region with an aroma of pine and citrus that cascades through to a round yet prominent bitterness. Without question, I’ll travel down the coast to Portland (arguably North America’s craft beer mecca) for a beer safari of sorts to learn more about the quickly growing culture of craft beer.  Looking forward, I also plan to work for the next two years in a related field to my degree as well as going back to school for a graduate program in the near future!”

Sejal Lal (VP-External): “I’ve had a great year with the GSA this year! It was pretty hectic, but I met so many wonderful people through GSA events and bzzr gardens 🙂 Time for a break though! This summer I’m heading off to the Canadian Arctic! I’ll be working for Parks Canada in Ivvavik National Park, Yukon, taking visitors on camping trips and guided hikes through the park. I should be in Ivvavik just around the time the Porcupine Caribou herd migrates through to their calving grounds in Alaska, so I hope I get a chance to see them. The area is also home to other wildlife including arctic fox, moose, grizzlies, wolves, martens, snowy owls, ptarmigans, and jaegers. I’ve heard the horseflies there are monstrous as well…I’ll try to take a picture of one before I get eaten alive! As the summer season approaches, the Arctic circle will receive almost 24-hour sunlight, so I’m definitely looking forward to experiencing the midnight sun….I’m planning on taking a sleep mask with me too though! During my days off, I’ll be in the town of Inuvik, getting the chance to take a shower, try some caribou burgers, and hopefully catch some local musicians around town! See you all when I get back in September!”

Joanna Yang (Co-President): “After six years at UBC, I’m excited to embark on a new chapter in my life. This summer, I’ll be travelling to Singapore, Malaysia, and Hong Kong to lead a GoGlobal Group Study course (HIST 482) with a colleague and history professor, Henry Yu. After four weeks with the program, I’m going to meet up with friends and travel to Myanmar, northern Thailand and my homeland in Hainan, China.

After my adventure in Asia, I plan on looking for work in fields relating to immigration settlement services, community capacity building and/or community engagement. Eventually, I’d like to make my way to a different city to pursue a master’s in degree in either planning, geography or public policy. Long-term goals include becoming a cat and dog owner and refining my skills in shooting and editing short films.


By Maiya Letourneau, 4th Year Human Geography Major


Migrant workers often suffer through appalling living conditions, are subject to harsh and dangerous labour, and receive very little pay. Too often, notions of citizenship and birthright encourage borders and boundaries that polarize the “self” and the imposing “other”, while turning migrant workers into vulnerable “outsiders”, where they are denied the privileges of other citizens.

This year, our Geography 495 Social Movements in the Americas seminar sought to deconstruct these borders by learning about oppression and discrimination in Canada and Latin America. We invited Alexandra Henao, Raul Gatica and Gil Aguilar, members of The Indigenous Popular Council of Oaxaca in Vancouver (CIPO-Van), to speak with us about the struggles of migrant agriculture workers in British Columbia. We aimed to create social and cultural networks between ourselves and Latin American social workers and activists through guest lectures, group discussions, and community service opportunities.

One of our most rewarding classes involved creating a banner for the Migrant Workers’ Dignity Project (a new project of CIPO-Van). Following artistic advice and information from Canadian and Latin American artists, we created a banner that symbolized our efforts to build solidarity and resistance against discrimination and oppression. We hope that in some way, we succeeded in helping migrant agricultural workers stand up to discrimination.

View more photos here

GEOB 472: Cartography & Game of Thrones

By Franklin Po, 4th year Environment & Sustainability Major


Geography can work with a variety of disciplines. Elements of cartography and GIS analysis can be used alongside History, Criminology, Anthropology, Health Sciences, and Education. With my final cartography project I wanted to push the boundaries a bit by trying to add Creative Writing to that list by making a map visualizing characters and storylines.

How do we think about stories? How do we plan them out or break them down? There are ton of ways, but probably the most common structure is a ski jump with an inciting incident, rising action with a push and pull of tension, climax, denouement, and then a conclusion. Maps also tell stories in a unique way by combining various data sets into a single output which I thought would be applicable to visualizing the various aspects of characters and their experiences and interactions.

I was inspired by Randall Monroe’s work on xkcd, specifically his narrative charts visualizing Lord of the Rings, Jurassic Park, Star Wars, 12 Angry Men, and Primer. I mapped out storylines from Game of Thrones in a similar fashion with the horizontal axis as time and the vertical line groupings indicating which characters are together at a certain time. I picked Game of Thrones because of the complex characters and the detailed storylines. Great stories are usually character driven and the series is a prime example of telling human stories in a fantasy world.

I wanted to do the books but that would’ve taken much more time, as a lot more scouring for details would have been required. Also I wasn’t sure if everyone had read the books and I didn’t want to spoil anything for the upcoming season. When I started planning out the process, I thought that it would be best to use Adobe Illustrator but my professor, Sally Hermansen, suggested that I do the project by hand, which was a wonderful idea since my Illustrator skills aren’t the best. Doing the project by hand meant a lot of rough drafts, erasing, and then re-watching the first three seasons, for educational purposes, of course. I tried to map episode by episode to get a more accurate time line of character experiences.

There are cartographic design principles incorporated into the project such as the neatline which is comprised of well-known quotes from the series or the use of dotted lines turning into solid ones to show how peripheral characters become more prominent in the story. There were a few challenges with the project such as leaving out certain characters, generalizing them into groups, or lines overlapping and going underneath in order to keep the characters organized. There are definitely aspects of the project that I would re-work in another iteration. Drawing and outlining by hand was tedious, but in the end, it felt fulfilling.

When I think about a story, I think about it in terms of characters experiences and interactions. Game of Thrones was a platform to show that storyline visualizations can take complex dynamic events and show them in a simplistic manner. With my final cartography project as a Geography undergrad, I wanted to use design ideas and aspects in an unconventional way. It was an opportunity to have fun combining two distinct topics that I’m passionate about and I’m looking forward to working on another creative project like this in the future.

New Ross Mackay Graduate Lounge


After a department-wide competition, the previous unnamed newly renovated graduate lounge (Rm. 140) has been named the Ross Mackay Graduate Lounge, after noted Canadian Geographer, a member of the Royal Society of Canada, and Willet G. Miller Medal Awaredee, John Ross Mackay. The room is located on the first floor of the Geography Building. As well as featuring a number of tables and chairs, it boasts glass walls and overall is an inviting space for graduate students to meet.



Upcoming Workshops for Grad Students

 Tips and Tricks for Formatting Your Thesis: Little Things Mean A Lot!

Are you worried about getting your thesis/dissertation into the format required by the Faculty of Graduate Studies? Would you like to know more about how to use the formatting features in Microsoft Word? Research Commons staff will help you with your questions about the nuts and bolts of formatting: tables of contents, page layout, numbering, headings, front matter, and more! As well, find out more about the resources that are available to help you in writing your thesis/dissertation. Graduate students at any stage of the writing process are welcome; some prior knowledge of Microsoft Word will be helpful.

Wednesday, May 14th, 2014 at 10:30AM – 12:30PM

Thursday, May 29th, 2014 at 3:00PM – 5:00PM

Monday, June 9th, 2014 at 2:00PM – 4:00PM

Have specific questions you think would be best answered in a one-on-one session? See our Consultations page to book a session:


Citation Management Using RefWorks, Zotero, or Mendeley

Need to manage large numbers of references and citations as part of your research, teaching or administrative work? Citation management tools are for you. These tools provide a simple way to store, organize and retrieve your citations in an effective manner, and can also help you in formatting in-text citations and bibliographies in your work.

Sign up for a tool specific hands-on workshop about the core concepts of citation management and detailed instruction for use of either RefWorks, Zotero, or Mendeley.

Are you new to citation management tools entirely, or do you have advanced-user questions? See our Consultations page to book a one-on-one session:

Citation Management Using RefWorks:
Thursday, May 22nd, 2014 at 1:00PM – 3:00PM

Citation Management Using Mendeley:
Thursday, May 30th, 3-5pm

Citation Management Using Zotero
Wednesday, June 25th, 2014 at 1:00PM – 3:00PM
Location: Koerner Library, RM217


SPSS Workshop 1- Basic SPSS

Do you wonder what SPSS is and how it can be useful to manage and analyze your data? Would you like to learn how to work with SPSS just by clicking a few keys? Let us help you learn the basics.

No previous knowledge of SPSS is required for the first workshop:

Tuesday, May 20th, 2014 at 10:00AM – 12:00PM

Workshop 2- SPSS Data Management

Do you know how to edit your data using effective data management software? Do you want to work with user-friendly software without going through a hassle of writing code? SPSS can do this for you with a few clicks. Attend this workshop and learn how to manage your data fast.

Tuesday, May 20th, 2014 at 1:00PM – 3:00PM
Location: Koerner Library, RM217

Workshop 3 – Descriptive/Graphing Analysis with SPSS

Do you have trouble summarizing your data? Do you want to analyze your data with t-test, ANOVA, Pearson-test, etc. using SPSS? Do you have trouble graphing and presenting your data with SPSS? Well, we can help you with all of these questions. Enroll in this workshop and learn how to analyze your data hassle-free!

Wednesday, May 21st, 2014 at 10:00AM – 12:00PM

Workshop 4 Regression Analysis

Regression analysis is a statistical process for estimating the relationships among variables. We can use regression to make quantitative predictions of one variable from the values of another. Do you wonder how to do linear and logistic regression analysis with SPSS? Do you want to learn about simple and multivariate regression modeling? Register for the SPSS Regression workshop to get a sense of it all!

Wednesday, May 21st, 2014 at 1:00PM – 3:00PM

Have specific questions you think would be best answered in a one-on-one session? See our Consultations page to book a session: __________________________________________________________________

UBC Library Research Commons Now Hiring

The Research Commons is Hiring!

The UBC Library Research Commons is seeking 3 graduate students to take on the following roles in the Research Commons in the coming academic year:

Student Coordinator
Graduate Academic Assistants for Thesis Formatting and Citation Management Support
Graduate Academic Assistants for Qualitative Software Support

Please check out our RC home page for job descriptions, terms of appointment, and application deadlines:

Scroll to the bottom to view all!

In the Media: Dr. Karen Bakker on needing a new approach to transboundary water governance

Dr. Karen Bakker and her fellow researchers wrote to The Vancouver Sun on the need for a new approach to transboundary water governance:

A treaty renegotiation process for water management in the Pacific Northwest fell this month back into the hands of the federal government from regional actors. If terms are not agreed on by all parties, the Columbia River Treaty could be terminated in 2024, leaving many people concerned, particularly those in British Columbia and Washington, who rely on the river for their energy needs.

The treaty was signed Jan. 17, 1961, but not but ratified until Sept. 16, 1964. The signatories must give 10 years notice from the ratification date (that is, by Sept. 16, 2014) to terminate the Treaty…

Read the rest of the article on The Vancouver Sun.