Where did former MGEM students come from?


2017/2018 Cohort


Kaity Castellani

My name is Kaity and I’m from the concrete jungle that is the GTA. I moved to Vancouver in 2010 to pursue an undergraduate in the Natural Resources Conservation program here at UBC. After graduating in 2015, I gave Toronto living a try but Vancouver’s beauty pulled me back to the west coast. I’ve worked in the tech industry since, which has helped me realize that my happiness and passion lie in bettering the environment. I am currently assisting in the initiation of a nonprofit whose main objective is mitigating pollution in China. The MGEM program will give me the tools I need to create a monitoring system that the organization will use as a means of evaluating the efficacy of its actions. I’m very much looking forward to working with likeminded peers in an academic setting again, with the prospect of collaborating and manifesting our ideas into reality!



Steve Cha

Steve Cha was born in South Korea, Seoul and immigrated to Canada, Toronto when he was 15. He studied medical science at University of Western Ontario and worked as a pharmacy assistance for two years in Toronto. But as a person who enjoys outdoor and nature so much, working in the windowless building every day was too much of a torture to him. Hence, he decided to move to Vancouver and completed a B.Sc. in Natural Resource Conservation at UBC in 2017. He is excited to continue his study in UBC as a M.Sc. student and he looks forward to explore the application of remote sensing in the development of sustainable land use in local communities. He is also excited to spend another winter in Vancouver where he can snowboard on a “real” mountain rather than little bunny hills in Toronto.



  Joyce Chan

Joyce grew up in Richmond, BC, next to the beautiful estuary of the Fraser River. Surrounded by the wetland’s diverse flora and fauna, her curiosity for nature started early. In elementary school, one teacher’s enthusiasm for field trips and “observation journals” launched Joyce’s interest in research and science. University courses and working at the UBC Herbarium steered her towards a potential future in botany. After obtaining a BSc in Environmental Science at UBC, she hopes to pursue a career in conservation, using GIS and plant taxonomy to study rare, endangered, and invasive plants.




Natalie Chan

Natalie Chan was born and raised in Hong Kong, spending most of her childhood in a concrete jungle. She came to Canada six years ago and quickly fell in love with its natural beauty (except the rain). In 2017, she received a B.Sc in Natural Resources Conservation, majoring in science and management at UBC. Throughout her undergraduate years, she discovered her interest in remote sensing and geospatial studies through different volunteering and work experiences. Now as a master student at MGEM, she hopes to apply the knowledge and training she receives through this program to address current and upcoming environmental concerns.



Liz Gallipeau

Liz was born and raised in Los Angeles, California, a city lush with green forests and wildlife. From LA, she moved to Vancouver to pursue a B.Sc. in Natural Resources Conservation in UBC’s Faculty of Forestry. During this degree program, Liz became most interested in GIS and remote sensing work, even doing GIS work for a company in North Vancouver. Outside of school, she spends most of her time climbing, camping, and making vegan baked goods. Liz is stoked to be a part of the first cohort of MGEM students.




Luke Groenewoud

Luke Groenewoud graduated from Quest University Canada with a Bachelors of Liberal Arts and Science. His ​primary field of study was ​earth sciences with a focus on ​natural disaster science​, specifically earthquakes​, volcanoes,​ and avalanches. He created a methodology for assessing earthquake-induced avalanche hazard for his undergrad thesis​​. He is pursuing a Masters of Geomatics for Environmental Management to ​​develop ​specific ​skills ​which could help develop a career in natural disaster management. He enjoys waking up early to pursue adrenaline​-​​inducing sports​–such as rock climbing, surfing, and backcountry skiing–​and staying up late to listen to or make loud music.




Paul Hacker

Paul Hacker was born in Vancouver B.C. and reared in the boggy suburbs of North Delta. Degrees from Kwantlen Polytechnic University in Political Science as well as UBC in Natural Resource Conservation: Science and Management complete his academic training, with volunteer work at the UBC Botanical Garden adding extra experience. Professionally, Paul has spent time as a Lifeguard/Swim Instructor, an Infantry Officer in the Canadian Forces, and an Education Assistant at the UBC Botanical Garden. An avid outdoorsman, he has also spent time mapping reef degradation as a volunteer scuba diver in Cambodia.

Although he thoroughly enjoys exploring the world, he is happiest at home in Vancouver with his wife, and maybe a local craft beer. A student in the 2017 cohort of the MGEM Program at UBC, he hopes to hone his skills in geomatics to better serve the province that has given him so much.



Ryan Haines

Ryan Haines grew up in the foothills of the Santa Cruz Mountains in the San Francisco Bay Area. From a young age he cultured a love for the outdoors by exploring the forests in his backyard, the many open space recreational areas near his house, and camping in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. This affection for the outdoors, coupled with a desire to understand how the natural world works, led him to UBC Forestry to complete his B.Sc. in Natural Resource Conservation. During his studies he was introduced and attracted to GIS and remote sensing. Upon his graduation in 2015, Ryan knew that he wanted to pursue a career in geomatics. He took two years to work for local governments in GIS roles before deciding it was time to take his education to the next level. Ryan wants to use geomatics as a tool for stream restoration to ultimately help salmonid populations.

Ryan is looking forward to being back in Vancouver and enjoys hockey, fly fishing, snowboarding, shooting pool, and spending time with his friends.


Anne Hervieux

I am a recent graduate from the University of Alberta with bachelor degrees in Ecology and Animal Biology. I have spent the last three summers working in Alberta as a Wildlife Biologist-in-training primarily conducting bird surveys and nest sweeps for industry. The last three winters I have worked as a Wildlife Management Technician mediating wildlife human conflict at the Vancouver International Airport. I am interested in species conservation and mediating human impact on wild spaces. I was drawn to the MGEM program because of the potential I see for geospatial analysis in assisting with conservation ecology issues. 




Suzanne (Suzi) Hopkinson

Suzanne (Suzi) Hopkinson was born and raised in Vancouver, BC but has worked on the Northwest Coast for the last 8 years, in locations such as Terrace, Prince Rupert, Bella Coola, and Haida Gwaii. She specializes in rare ecosystem classification, rare plants, and endangered species. She works with First Nations, industry professionals, and contractors to write, implement, and execute environmental monitoring programs in the oil & gas, forest, power transmission, and mining industries. Suzi also develops curriculums and instructs adult First Nations learners at the University of Northern British Columbia, Vancouver Island University, and Northwest Community College. She is an avid hiker, animal-lover, and contributor to E-Flora and the Backroads Mapbook community. She is a proud graduate of UBC Forestry’s Natural Resource Conservation Program (2010) and is excited to return to her alma mater. She hopes to study resilience of endangered hot- and -warm spring ecosystems and flora, by modelling frequency and predictability of prevalence.



Jane Kim

Jeong-Min (Jane) Kim was born and raised in Busan, the second largest city in South Korea, where has the warm climate and beautiful environment. She immigrated with her family to Vancouver when she was in grade 5. Having spent most of her life in Vancouver, she decided to attend University of British Columbia (UBC). Jane received her B.Sc. in Natural Resources Conservation, specifically majoring in Global Perspectives. She was always interested in the conservation and management matters within a global context. For her first international experience, she was a research intern in the National Institute of Forest Services (NIFoS) in South Korea and was exposed to one of the main REDD+ projects examining REDD+ feasibility in KPHL Rinjani Barat, Lombok Island, Indonesia. Jane had a first exposure to the Geographic Information Systems and Remote Sensing courses during her undergraduate at UBC and the global perspectives capstone course helped her to gain hands-on experience by utilizing GIS and remote sensing tools for her main project.

Jane realized that after her undergraduate degree, she had a desire to continue and expand on her education, so she chose to pursue her passion by entering to the Master of Geomatics for Environmental Management (MGEM) program at UBC. Jane looks forward to understanding more geospatial skills and gaining expertise in geomatics technologies throughout her master studies.


Amanda (Mandy) Leslie

Amanda (Mandy) Leslie was born and raised in a bustling metropolitan city in Southeast Asia. Eager to pinpoint her place in the life sciences, she followed her curiosity to study Biology in the University of British Columbia. The last stretches of undergraduate year acquainted her with the advances of geospatial technologies, and secured her aspirations for the conservation field. She is looking forward to broaden her knowledge, and meet the MGEM staff and cohort. In her spare time, Mandy enjoys swimming, a good book, and spotting curious movements and the ensuing chirps between tree branches. 




Genrui Li

My preferred name is Genrui Li, and I was born in China in 1993. My hometown is Qingdao, the city is famous of beer. I moved to Vancouver in 2012, and graduated from High school in 2013. In the same year, I was enrolled in the faculty of applied science in UBC. After one year hard working, I got the chance to study in Civil Engineering in UBC. I was really into Civil Engineering, and I especially liked to study wood structure because of natural aesthetic of wood. After finishing the bachelor degree in Civil Engineering, I would like to pursuit a higher level of education, and hoped to explore a new area of study. In this case, I choose the MGEM and wish to learn relevant knowledge that would contribute to my future career.




Hsin-Hua Lin

Born on a beautiful island called Taiwan, Hsin-Hua grew up in a place full of mountains and forests, and gradually developed the passion for the natural world. She obtained her BSc in Forestry and Resource Conservation at National Taiwan University, majoring in the forestry environment. Interested in the interaction between human and environment, she joined the 2015 summer program at UBC to learn about urban design and the development of the City of Vancouver. In 2016 and 2017, she studied as an exchange student at the University of Ottawa, where she gradually got intrigued by the area of Geomatics. In order to learn more about how to apply Geomatics in the real world, as well as studying in a beautiful and comfortable place like Vancouver, she ultimately decided to pursue her master’s degree at UBC. She has a variety of hobbies, including reading mystery and fantasy novels, drawing, photography, listening to music, dancing and travelling.



Edmund Lumsden

Hey my name is Edmund. I have a background in Information Technology and I see the MGEM program as a perfect way to enhance my skill set for transfer to the natural world. I wish I could say that I’ve always loved trees, wildlife, flowers, and all those related elements that I’m sure we all hold dear but for many years I was indifferent to them. I grew up in a very urbanised city where these things are scarce and generally unappreciated. The visual nature of geomatics provides a dynamic means to communicate environmentally important information. I believe that is especially useful for reaching out to people from all backgrounds and affiliations. A picture (or map) can speak a thousand words!




Daniel Ortiz

I was born and raised in Mexico for most of my life. However, I have lived in several different countries which consist of the following; England, Poland, U.S.A, Canada and Mexico. I have travelled extensively throughout Europe. I wanted to be an economist when I commenced my International Baccalaureate program in high school. I had strictly chosen my courses to follow on along this path at University. However, I also took a class on environmental systems and societies which changed my perspective completely. This class convinced me to ditch economics and pursue an environmental related degree, and I am glad that I did it.

I obtained a Bachelors degree in Geography at UBC. The latter introduced GIS and remote sensing which allowed me to visualize the earth differently from before. Since then I have enjoyed working with these applications.  I have worked as an IT service desk analyst and took an internship and the National Commission for Biodiversity in Mexico City. I’ve also had the pleasure of publishing a research paper in the Geography undergraduate journal at UBC exploring potential for landslides. I have particular interest in researching ecosystem services in relation to land degradation, and how mapping these can aid in their well being as well as their viable use. I hope to work on pressing issues here in Canada, but also in Mexico/ Latin America.

In my spare time, I am either rock climbing, playing the guitar, enjoying a cold beer or relaxing at the beach.


Jaivik Pathak

I was born in a small city in India called Vadodara (Baroda). I have completed B.Sc. and M.Sc. in Geology from MSU (Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda). In MSc degree, my dissertation project was mainly focused on independent geological study in a complex geological terrain. After finishing my studies, I worked for ‘Gemfields PLC’ in Africa, where we were extracting Emerald gemstones from mines, and later I worked with ‘WASMO’ in India, where I was finding a potable ground water sources for village.

Greatly influenced by geomatics, I decided to study further, and moved to Canada to pursue ADGISA (Advance Diploma in GIS Applications) degree from VIU (Vancouver Island University). During this program, I worked in a project which was focused on deriving a hydrologic model, which can predict floods on Vancouver Island. To deepen my knowledge, with love for nature, I decided to study MGEM degree at UBC (University of British Columbia). Apart from studies I spent my time reading books, exploring new places and learning photography.


Gary Pinneo

Gary Pinneo was born and raised on Vancouver Island. He spent his formative years exploring the natural spaces available to him and found he was quickly drawn to the sea. While studying geography at Vancouver Island University, Gary spent his summers as a fishing guide in the Great Bear Rainforest and on a small, family run commercial fishing boat off of Nootka Island. It was these experiences that instilled in him a desire for conservation. His aspiration is to utilize the tools of geomatics to find sustainable solutions for countries dealing with the problems associated with sea level rise and managing natural resources in the face of Climate change. 




Jiayuan (Joel) Shi

Jiayuan (Joel) Shi was born and raised in Suzhou, an old city in the south-east of China. Suzhou is famous for its classical garden with trees, rocks and lakes, so he has developed his interests in environment management at a very young age. He came to Vancouver as a transfer student from China in 2015, and he obtained B.Sc in Forestry Resource Management at University of British Columbia in 2017. For now, Jiayuan is interested in making full use of data from remote sensing methods like LiDAR to manage natural resources and generate suitable plans efficiently so that a balance between environment and business could be reached. Meanwhile, Jiayuan also developed great passion for the outdoors like running, riding and basketball.

Jiayuan really enjoyed the life in Vancouver and look forward to having another wonderful year with nice people there.



Eden Sweeney

Eden grew up in a small town outside of Guelph, Ontario and moved to Thunder Bay, Ontario to complete her undergraduate degree in forestry at Lakehead University. She spent her summers working in silviculture throughout northern Ontario and Manitoba.  She loves travelling the world and meeting new people. Eden is looking forward to coming to Vancouver for the first time in August for the Masters of Geomatics for Environmental Management program.





Shahab Tavakoli

Shahab Tavakoli is a geospatial data analyst living in the beautiful city of Vancouver where the glass skyscrapers and nature come together to define a glorious urban life. He is originally a Persian and was born in Tehran, a megacity city that is munificently embraced by the magnificent Alborz Mountains and edged with rivers, offering innumerable opportunities for outdoor enjoyments. When moved to Vancouver, Shahab studied Geographic Information Systems at BCIT where he earned his Bachelor of Technology degree and proceeded to work in mineral exploration industry as a geospatial project manager. While working keenly, he earned his Masters of Engineering from the Lockheed-Martin Engineering Management Program at the University of Colorado Boulder with specialties in quality sciences and performance excellence in technology management.

Having worked in exploration industry for 10+ years, Shahab tries to bring enthusiasm and passion into all the subjects he works on to shed light on unknowns. He is an enthusiastic voyager who enjoys tackling the territory of unknowns and is never daunted by what he might find there. He loves hiking and being a companion of Mother Nature. For him the Grouse Grind is a place to validate himself; it is a place to come by discipline and consistency step by step.


Lauren Tekano

Born in North Vancouver, Lauren has been fortunate enough to have British Columbia’s coastal rainforest as her backyard. Though she loves the North Shore and has spent countless hours in these woods, the landscape that truly raised her was the arid Nicola Valley, where she spent every summer at her cabin on Nicola Lake. It is here that she truly fell in love with British Columbia’s natural landscape and all it has to offer, but also where she saw first-hand the impacts of lakeside developments, invasive species introduction, ecological degradation and global environmental change.

It is because of this connection British Columbia’s wilderness, and the need to ensure its protection, that she obtained a B.Sc. in Geography, with a concentration in Environment & Sustainability at the University of Victoria. She dedicated her studies to exploring the science and the human response to climate change, while developing an even deeper connection to environmental conservation and environmental management. Through her studies, she also developed a strong interest in GIS and remote sensing strategies for ecological analyses and real-world problem solving, which led her to pursue her Masters in Geomatics for Environmental Management at UBC.

Lauren is an avid cyclist, and can almost always be found riding her noble steed across Vancouver’s city streets, or on a touring trip with her family. When she isn’t riding her bike, she will be sure to find a way to get outside – either hiking the North Shore Mountains, training for a half-marathon, or skate skiing. After leaving her undergraduate degree with just as many questions as answers, she is looking forward to absorbing as much knowledge as she can through the M.G.E.M. program.


Francois du Toit

Francois du Toit was born in Pretoria, South Africa, and moved to Vienna, Austria aged 9. After stumbling across a UBC recruitment meeting and consequently being impressed by both the university’s academic standing and sporting proficiency, he decided that Vancouver looked like a great place to be.

While at UBC, Francois undertook a B.Sc. in Geology and played Varsity Rugby for the Thunderbirds. It was during this time that he got his first taste of GIS and its potential for use in both geology and geography. After graduation, Francois spent some time working in Vancouver before finding a job with a geological exploration company in the Northwest Territories. 

It was here that two things became apparent; one being that he enjoyed the environmental side of the geoscience industry, and the other that he couldn’t do very much about it. While researching ways to change this, Francois came across the MGEM program. As someone looking to improve their GIS and data analysis skills while also continuing to work in his chosen field, this program looked to be a perfect match.


Danielle Visentin

Danielle Visentin was born in rural Nova Scotia. Growing up surrounded by the beautiful Atlantic Ocean and vast outdoor activities, she was inspired to pursue the environmental field. Danielle completed her Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science from Acadia University in May 2015. She then enrolled in the intensive Nova Scotia Community College – Centre of Geographic Sciences, where she received an Advanced Diploma in Geographic Information Systems. Being from a rural farming community, Danielle fell in love with agriculture. She had the privilege to work both as a student and professional at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada – Kentville Research and Development Centre.  While at the Research Centre, she was able to dip her toes in various fields including: Entomology, Berry Crop Research, Farm Maintenance and Landscape Ecology.

In her spare time, Danielle can be found exploring the various hiking trails across Nova Scotia.


Jane Wang

I am from Hebei, China. Though born in an urban environment, my deep fascination with the natural landscapes has taken me to explore the Himalayan ranges, join a field course in Iceland, and work as a research assistant on the glaciers in the Yukon Territories. I graduated with a B.Sc in Geography with focus on climatology and geomorphology at the University of British Columbia. Besides being curious of the physical processes that shape our landscapes and passionate about sustainability, I enjoy the aesthetics and love creating data visualisations to better communicate scientific findings to the public. Therefore, I find the MGEM program a wonderful fit for my background. When not studying, I am found on glacier sites, daydreaming about the mountains, and in art galleries.




Ricky Weng

Ricky Weng was born in Changzhou, a city located on the southern bank of the Yangtze River in China. He obtained his bachelor degree in Natural Resources Conservation at the University of British Columbia and a bachelor degree in Forestry at Nanjing Forestry University. During his undergraduate degree, he developed his passion for geomatics and decided to continue his study and become a part of the first MGEM cohort. He is currently working as a research assistant in the Landscape Ecology Lab at UBC, detecting land use and land cover change using remote sensing and geographical information system. He is an outdoor enthusiast. In his spare time, he enjoys travelling and taking photos.




Rebecca Wort

Born and raised in the small city of Pickering, Ontario, Rebecca has always held a passion for the outdoors. Spending all her summers kayaking, canoeing, or working outside this passion was nurtured and shaped her career path. Having briefly studied biology in Ecuador, worked in animal nutrition, written management plans in Australia and worked with environmental education for the public; her love for nature and her desire to protect it were cemented. Rebecca completed her bachelor of science in conservation at UBC and is likely to be observed playing some sort of musical instrument, petting dogs or trying to study up so she can look just as smart as everyone else.




Yunhua Wu

Hi, my name is Yunhua Wu. I was born and raised in Shanghai, China. I came to Vancouver in 2013 for my Bachelor degree in Geography (Environment and Sustainability) in UBC. My undergraduate studies introduced me to applications of geomatics in various fields. By joining the MGEM program, I hope to expand my skills and knowledge with GIS and Remote Sensing while still carrying on with my passion about the environment. I enjoy cycling, hiking and ultimate frisbee in my free time. 





Miaorong Zhu

Miaorong Zhu was born and raised in Shanghai, China, where he lived for 20 years. Six years ago, he moved to Vancouver to pursue his Bachelor’s degree in Natural Resources Conservation at UBC Forestry. Since then, he has fallen in love with this beautiful, vibrant city. 

During the course of his degree, Miaorong has developed a strong interest in geospatial technologies as well as a passion for environmental management. Two of the courses that he took during his undergraduate studies: FRST 443 – Remote Sensing for Ecosystem Management; and CONS 340 – Introduction to Geographic Information Systems for Forestry and Conservation, have given him an introduction to geomatics and sparked his interests in furthering his knowledge and geospatial skills. Therefore, he decided to continue his graduate studies at the Faculty of Forestry because of the very positive experience he had during his four-year undergraduate studies at UBC Forestry. 

Miaorong’s long-term goal is to work in the field of geomatics in Canada. He believes this Master’s program will be a great stepping stone for getting his foot in the geomatics industry.