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:  http://koerner.library.ubc.ca/services/research-commons/

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Killam Doctoral Scholarship Awardee: Marc Tadaki

Congratulations to our PhD Candidate, Marc Tadaki, for winning a 2014/2015 Killam Doctoral Scholarship!

Killam Doctoral Scholarships are the most prestigious awards available to graduate students at UBC. Approximately 15-20 awards are made each year to the top doctoral candidates in the Affiliated Fellowships competition. The stipend for the 2013-2014 awards is $30,000 per annum for two years and a $2,000 allowance for research-related travel during the 24 months of the scholarship.

Killam Doctoral Scholarships awardees also become Four Year Fellowship holders, and may receive tuition funding from that program.

Graduate Mentorship Program – Survey Results

By Elanna Nolan, Ph.D Candidate & PLN Staff

In March, the Department of Geography conducted a survey of those participating the Graduate mentorship program.  The survey results indicates that the program is running smoothly and recommend its continuation.

Of those that responded (n 9) to the survey, all Mentors and Mentees met at least twice since the PLN launch event on October 3, 2013. Locations for these meetings include: coffee shops, workplaces, on campus, and via Skype. Despite everyone having busy schedules, meetings have been fairly easy to set up and were usually arranged via email. Everyone reported finding the time to have been productive and well-spent. One Mentor commented that while they did not initially think they were well-matched with a Mentee, over the course of their meeting their interests began to align. Career counselling and knowledge-sharing have been the two main things to have come out of these relationships.

It was suggested by one participant that some more structure would be helpful, particularly in the earlier stages of the program.  Unfortunately, the program is self- managing – through a mentor-mentee activity guidebook and minimum meeting requirements.  Once the students are introduced to their mentors, it is difficult to maintain contact with program participants and arrange for networking events as staff resources are severely limited during term.  Overall, based on the responses to our survey, the UBC Geography Mentor Program has been successful in pairing students and professionals in productive and supportive partnerships.

Survey Results

How many times have you met with your Mentor/Mentee?

Three of participants have met 3 times with their Mentor/Mentee; Six have met twice

Where have you conducted your Mentor/Mentee meetings?

Mentors/Mentees have met in workplaces (n 3), coffee shops or other semi-public locations (n 6), at UBC (n 1), over Skype (n 1) and at industry events (n 1).

Has it been easy to schedule times to meet? How have meetings been organised?

For the most part, meetings have been easy to schedule, and Mentors/Mentees have been able to coordinate via email. One participant commented that it had been difficult to organize meetings due to both Mentor and Mentee having very busy schedules.

How would you describe your Mentor-Mentee relationship and the meetings you’ve had, so far?

Everyone thought that the program was a productive use of time, despite the fact that for one participant felt like his/her Mentor match was not ideal in terms of their alignment of interests. 7/9 felt that the relationship was mutually beneficial, and 1 Mentor commented that their pairing felt more one-sided.

One mentee commented that: “it’s been good for me to learn more about the city & how things work in Vancouver. And my Mentor has been really interested in learning more about my research and my Supervisor’s research, too.”

Graduate Program Applications 2014 Review

Submitted by Suzanne Lawrence, Graduate Program Manager

This spring, Geography received 118 (cf 2013:141) applications.  This is 23 fewer applications over the previous year.   Of the 118 applicants, only 32 were Canadian compared to 76 in 2012 or 35 in 2013.  There were 86 (cf 2013; 106, 2012: 41) international applications and, of those, 42 (cf 2013;58) came from the U.S.A.  Of all the applications, 55% were male (cf 2013:48%).

Year over year application comparison:

2011; 59 PhD, 55 MA, 43 MSc
2012; 43 PhD, 43 MA, 31 MSc
2013; 65 PhD, 49 MA, 27 MSc

2014: 48 PhD, 37 MA, 33 MSc


The nationality and gender of the applicant pools are as follows:

PhD Human Geography

(21 females, 19 males)

14, Canada

8, U.S.A.

6, Asia

4, Europe

8, Other

PhD Physical  Geography

(4 females, 4 males)

2, Canada

2, USA

2, Asia

1, Egypt

1,New Zealand


Master of Science

(15 females, 18 males)

4, Canada

11, China

14, USA

4,  Other


Master of Arts

(13 females,  24 males)

12, Canada

18, USA

4, Europe

3, Other


Taking “Nanay” to the Philippines

When Geraldine Pratt, Caleb Johnston and May Farrales arrived at their hotel in Manila on November 9th, there was a big banner welcoming the UBC Geography department. Indeed taking the play Nanay to the Philippines was a large UBC production. Caleb (former UBC Masters and Ph.D. student, now a lecturer at the University of Edinburgh) and Gerry had obtained a SSHRC Public Outreach grant to bring the play that they have created from Gerry’s research interviews on Canada’s Live-in Caregiver Program to the Philippines.

The play was performed at the impressive PETA Theatre Centre in Quezon City in Manila. May Farrales, currently a Ph.D. student in the department, participated as a research assistant and worked hard to create an audience that included a range of migrant organisations, government representatives and family members of women working as domestic workers in Vancouver, among others. May and Teihard Paradela (currently a UBC Ph.D. student in History) helped to co-facilitate the talkbacks. The director, Alex Ferguson, is currently completing a Ph.D. in Directing in the Theatre department at UBC.   Vanessa Banta, recently accepted to our Ph.D. program in Geography and currently on faculty at UP-Diliman, contributed as dramaturg.  Welcome UBC indeed!

There were fifteen performances between November 25 and November 30 and roughly 450 people saw the play. The play is a multi-media performance installation of monologues created from interviews with nanny agents, government representatives, employers, domestic workers and their children.

In 2009, it was performed at the PuSh International Performing Arts festival in Vancouver and at the Hebbel Theatre in Berlin. In 2012 it was staged as script reading by professional actors in Edinburgh. For a glimpse of one of the scenes from the Manila production, see : http://societyandspace.com/2014/01/10/johnston-pratt-fieldnote-performing-nanay-in-manila-philippines/.


New Lab: One of a kind in Canada

The new physical geography laboratory in Ponderosa Commons officially opened on January 23rd 2014, the outcome of four CFI grants amounting to approximately $3 million. The laboratory resides in the basement of Ponderosa Commons West, as a part of a university-wide effort to create, as Dean of Arts, Gage Averill explained at the grand opening, “student housing that had imbedded within them an academic enterprise. The idea is to put students closer together with the campus so they can see the kind of research and pursuits that go on here… we want open windows on the university’s work.”

In particular, this new lab is designed to establish an experimental laboratory to conduct innovative research on the interface between hydrology, geomorphology, ecology and climate (environmental sciences).  Such a lab is unique in Canada with only one or two in the U.S.; this lab will put UBC research on the frontiers of science as there are both great scope and great demand for innovative and fundamental research in environmental sciences. Research in these topics is particularly important given the ongoing and anticipated changes to the Earth’s climate and land surface cover. Land-use changes and rising demands for natural resources will put increasing pressure on landscapes, almost certainly leading to significant, progressive deterioration. In order to make significant progress, it is necessary to combine lab experiments, computer modelling, and available long-term data sets in the research.

President Stephen Toope addressed the faculty, students, and staff at the grand opening of the lab; “I really admire the tremendous interdisciplinary [nature] of the work that takes place through Geography at the University of British Columbia. Just hearing snippets of what goes on in this lab makes me realize how many different fields of study are brought together to produce the kind of knowledge that we hope can benefit the world.” Because physical geography labs are essential for researchers in Geography as well as other UBC departments such as Civil Engineering, EOS, and Forestry, it will also foster strong linkages between discipline-specific research groups. Such interdisciplinary scientific effort is necessary in developing predictive tools that could be used to inform effective and sustainable management of freshwater resources, including habitat restoration and riparian vegetation.

UBC Geography Welcomes New Gradute Students

Joseph A. Daniels
Degree: MA
Elvin Wyly, Trevor Barnes
I am from the “Bluegrass State”, or perhaps more commonly known (sadly) as the home of KFC. I grew up in Lexington, Kentucky and then ventured to Chapel Hill, North Carolina where I set about completing my undergraduate degrees in geography simultaneously at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the National University of Singapore. My research interests are in the geographies of finance and money, particularly as they play a role in the reconstruction of urban space for capital accumulation. My undergraduate thesis looked at the role of financialization and bank restructuring in the context of Singapore’s evolving national growth strategy. Inspired by the latest financial crisis, I intend (though not set in stone) to look at the production of financial knowledge and its deployment as an urban governance strategy.


Emily Hawes
Degree: M.A.
Supervisor: David Ley
My name is Emily and I am from Nova Scotia. I completed my B.A. with honours geography at McGill in 2011 and have been living in Montreal since then. It didn’t take much time after graduation to realize that I need geography in my life, and I am so excited to be starting this next of my life’s chapters at UBC! With the help of David Ley, I will be studying the polarized spatial nature of income inequality in (Canadian) urban areas, particularly as it relates to immigration policy. I love talking about public and private space, hiking, cycling and playing and listening to live music. Lets hang out!


Esteban Izquierdo
Degree: MA
Supervisor: Juanita Sundberg
Having just finished a B.A. in Sociology here at UBC, I am very glad to bring my intersts in the Latino immigrant experience in North America and the cultural spaces created by this experince to the Geography department. I am currently concentrating on spaces of resistance that have emerged as a response to culturally controversial legislation in Arizona. I am very much looking forward to delving more intensley intro these interests with the tools that Human Geography will provide me.
In my rare spare moments I can be found playing basketball at any available hoop on campus.


Kelsey Johnson
Degree: MA
Supervisor: Gerry Pratt
I am from Minneapolis, MN. I received my undergraduate degree in Geography from the University of Minnesota in 2011. In the intervening years, my life has been largely focused around my favorite activity: being outside! I’ve made my way through large swaths of rural Canada, including Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and Nunavut. My other interests include sitting quietly in parks, riding my bike, and drinking coffee. I’m very excited about my relocation to a more mountainous region and am looking forward to doing a lot of exploring over the next two years. Would anyone like to teach me how to sea kayak?


Joseph K. Lee
Pursuing: MSc
Supervisor: Andreas Christen, Ronald Kellett (Architecture)
Hello, I’m Joey and I will be starting the first year of my master’s program in Andreas Christen’s Micrometerology Lab. I was born in the San Francisco Bay Area and studied Geography at the University of California, Los Angeles. I am passionate about cartography, GIS/Remote Sensing, and urban climatology/meteorology and have pursued research focusing on the impact of cities on the environment. Most recently, I worked as a researcher for the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, MA and in Singapore. I enjoy skateboarding, photography, and exploring visual representations of the world through maps and data visualization.


Alexis Moyer
Degree: MSc
Supervisor: Michele Koppes
I’m from Middletown, Pennsylvania and completed my BSc in Environmental Studies at Gettysburg College in the Civil War town of Gettysburg, PA. My undergraduate thesis examined drumlins and mega-scale glacial lineations in northern Iceland, reconstructing past ice flow and supporting the presence of paleo-ice streams in two valleys. At UBC, I would like to study outlet glacier calving dynamics in western Greenland, hopefully returning to the ice sheet for fieldwork. In my free time, I enjoy reading, singing, kickboxing, and spending time in the great outdoors. I look forward to getting to know everyone in the department and exploring Vancouver.


Tobias Müller
Degree: PhD
Supervisor: Marwan Hassan
I grew up near Düsseldorf in Germany and studied Geography at the University of Bonn, which is even for European standards close to my hometown. Spending a few months at the Geological Survey of Norway and doing several research trips to the Swiss Alps and Canadian Rockies got me further away and life (?) eventually brought me here to study geomorphology, which I am quite excited about! I am looking forward to learn a lot about rivers, as my background lies more in slope processes. My research will focus on the intersection of slope and river, i.e. the influence of debris flows on the fluvial system.


Erin Osterberg
Degree: Phd Human Geography
Supervisor: Dan Hiebert
I am a local, born and raised. I’ve spent the past 13 years with the federal government: in Corrections, Customs, and Immigration enforcement. I have been lucky enough to travel to 38 countries – my favorites being China, Costa Rica, and Nepal. My BA(SFU) and MA(UFV) are both in Criminology, so I am new to UBC and Human Geography and excited to be here! I will be working with Dan Hiebert and am interested in analyzing the contemporary policy of Canada as a nation-state with respect to human smuggling. I live in Mission, BC with my husband and two children.


Marc Tadaki
Degree: Doctor of Philosophy
Supervisors: Karen Bakker, Trevor Barnes
I was born on Maui (Hawaii) and moved to Auckland (New Zealand) when I was young, where I have lived until recently. I have a BA in Economics and Media Studies, and a BSc (Hons) and MSc (Hons) in Geography from the University of Auckland. My research follows ongoing freshwater planning reforms in New Zealand, examining the diverse ways in which regional authorities resource themselves (through knowledge production, networks, investments, strategies etc) to implement the reforms. The heterogeneous and place-based nature of implementation presents opportunities to develop new contingencies and networked relations to share and support innovative approaches to water governance.


Charlotte Trowbridge
Degree: MSc.
Supervisor: Jennifer Williams
I’m from Portland, Oregon and I got my undergraduate degree in Environmental Studies from Linfield College (McMinnville, Oregon). After graduation I spent a year working for the State of Oregon to delineate wetlands and plan restoration of wetland mitigation sites. Most recently, I worked for a non-profit organization researching and monitoring populations of at-risk plant species in the Pacific Northwest. My master’s work will focus on studying plant population dynamics and species interactions. I just moved to Vancouver and I look forward to spending time exploring the area and finding new places to run, hike, paddle, eat, and relax!