Kar Man Chan

Chan, Kar Man

Born and raised in Hong Kong — renowned as a compact urban centre with thousands of square kilometres of rugged coastline, mountain ranges and country parks. Hong Kong’s biodiversity is surprisingly rich for its small space so close to a bustling city. I have volunteered and worked in diverse settings, from green groups, government committees for the conservation of historical heritage, performing arts groups, investment banking and advocacy in non-government organizations. Coupled with my educational background BSc in Therapeutic Radiography, MA in Literary & Cultural Studies and MA in Buddhist Studies, I look at forestry from different perspectives of biological, physical, social, political and managerial sciences. I am very much fascinated in integrating my academic and professional knowledge through learning the MIF program in order to better equip myself with a more effective public leadership, knowledge and competencies to solve those ‘wicked problems’ arising from managing the forests, woodlands, and associated resources for human and environmental benefits and the dire needs for sustainable development through collaboration and partnership.


Xuefeng Fei

Fei, Xuefeng

Hi, everyone! I am from China and got my bachelor’s degree in Beijing Forestry University. I am excited to join the MIF program after five years of working in the furniture industry in Beijing. I love everything about nature, including trees, animals, flowers…I like outdoor activities, like hiking, travelling. Reading and exercising take up most of my spare time. I am looking forward to the wonderful life in Vancouver!


Muhammad Iqbal Firdaus

Firdaus, Muhammad Iqbal

Hi, My name is Iqbal, I was born in the small town of Sukabumi, in West Java, and currently live in Jambi city, Central Sumatera in Indonesia. My educational background is in Forest Management from Bogor Agricultural University/ Institut Pertanian Bogor, where I graduated in 2016. Since then, I worked for the Geospatial Information Agency, PT WebGIS Indonesia, and then in WWF-Indonesia Bukit Tigapuluh Landscape and PT Alam Bukit Tigapuluh (ABT). I am a self-learner and have an inquisitive mind passionate about science, conservation, environment, modelling analysis, computer science and problem-solving. I am enthusiastic about the technology of GIS (Geographic Information System), Remote Sensing and Programming to support conservation and forest management in my field. Currently, I’m working with an innovative concession conservation company (Ecosystem Restoration Concession), a non-profit organization that links conservation and sustainable development. We have the support of WWF (World Wildlife Fund), Frankfurt Zoological Society, the private sector, and local government to implement conservation in order to bring alternative livelihoods to local communities and other stakeholders in the landscape. My goal is that we could explore and implement problem-solving based on reliable systematic data comprehension. We are then able to offer solutions based on holistic understandings of complex systems to determine and balance community development aspirations with biodiversity conservation for sustainable development. The MIF Program aligns with my goals and will help me along that path.


Miah Godek

Godek, Miah

I moved from Bothell, Washington, where I grew up, to Calgary, AB to complete my undergrad at Mount Royal University, studying Environmental Science with a minor in Philosophy and playing on the soccer team. While living in Calgary, I loved spending time in the Rocky Mountains in Banff, Canmore, and Kananaskis skiing, climbing, and backpacking, and that was where I decided the direction I wanted my career to take. I have worked for an engineering consulting firm since May 2019 performing sustainability research and assessments. I believe sustainability to be an essential part of “Business as Usual” going forward. Growing up in the PNW I have always loved the luscious forests and have known the power they hold to connect people to nature. With my interest in philosophy, I have found myself considering the complex relationships between people or communities and forests, which has led me to the Masters of International Forestry program. I hope to tie all of my interests together in the future in a PhD program to study the interconnectedness of the forests and their biology, people and communities, and sustainability in a carbon-intensive world.


Francis Kpatakpa

Kpatakpa, Francis

I come from Kpando, a small farming and fishing community in the Volta Region of Ghana. Through my life (being born in a rural setting where life was complete and awesome rich natural setting), I have experienced at first-hand wonderful river bodies, flora and fauna that have been depleted over the years. I wish to contribute my part towards securing more sustainable environments. I embrace innovative ways of learning and have a positive attitude towards work. I studied BSc. Natural Resources Management (Silviculture and Forest Management option) at Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology. I have participated in countless conservation activities such as ecological campaigning against Bauxite mining in Ghana’s Atewa Forest Reserve, participating in school and community conservation sensitization programs, and volunteering for the restoration of degraded forests during my undergraduate program and with operations personnel at the Forestry Commission of Ghana. I have recently worked with Advocates for Biodiversity Conservation -Ghana, a non-profit organization, where I worked on a Bamboo Agroforestry project to support the livelihoods of farmers and explored the potential of carbon credits. I aspire to become a Forest Research Scientist whose work will contribute to conservation actions and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals through the design and implementation of environmental policies. I am excited to join the MIF program at UBC with the support of the Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program, which seeks to provide a conducive platform for cross-disciplinary studies and the development of transferable skills which includes teamwork, critical thinking as well as cutting-edge technology. My hobbies are cooking and cycling.


Ciren (Norbu) Luobu

Luobu, Ciren (Norbu)

My name is Cirenluobu. I was born and raised in a small remote and rural village near the base of Mount Qomolangma. I remain dedicated to my home village’s well-being. The special natural environment holds a valuable place in my heart – the world’s highest mountain can be seen from my home village! Hence, I started dedicating my life to advancing my people and protecting Mt. Qomolangma environment. From 1996 to 2005, I became the Program Officer for the Management Bureau in the Qomolangma National Nature Preserve. I believe my dedication to my own NGO -the Pendeba Society helps benefit local people and protect Mt. Qomolangma. That success helped me gain admissions to a master’s degree, despite not having a college degree at Future Generations University. In 2006, I resigned from my stable civil servant position and became fully devoted to the philanthropic and conservation sector. After three years of consistent effort and keen enthusiasm, I founded the Pendeba Society: the first registered NGO in the Shigatse region. The Pendeba Society has flourished: The Society has earned strong support from local government and active community participation as well as attention and recognition from the global society. As a result, The Pendeba Society playing a leading role in the non-profit sector in the Tibet Autonomous Region China. In 2012, the Pendeba Society was conferred as 5 A Grade (top grade) Social Organization of TAR, and UN Equator Prize Winner in 2014. I believe the MIF program will broaden my scope of understanding of international perspective for forestry development, holistic approaches, multiple perspectives and dimensions from the program, which would include smarter theories and tools for me to tackle issues of sustainability.


Taviana MacLeod

MacLeod, Taviana

I received my undergraduate degree from the University of Ottawa in International Studies and Modern Languages in 2017. For the past two years, I have worked as a project manager for the international charity, One Tree Planted, managing our large-scale reforestation projects across Canada (and in East Africa for the first year). Prior to this, I worked for four summer seasons as a professional tree planter in British Columbia and Alberta and spent winters travelling through Central America working/volunteering my help for farm work – where I stayed with local families. I also spent some time in Tanzania working for a social enterprise, specifically working to intercrop vanilla vines in the Kilimanjaro region with World University Services Canada. Over this time, I became particularly interested in the knowledge of food security for forest defendant’s people’s livelihoods. I hope to do what I can for the world in the coming generations by following my passion for forests and restoration, for the people in their surrounding communities. I am also passionate about all forms of travel and enjoy gardening, scuba diving, backcountry skiing, yoga and cooking!


Samantha Mercado Saballos

Mercado Saballos, Samantha

My name is Samantha, I have lived in so many cities growing up that I’m not sure which one I would consider home. My family is currently living in Alberta, which is where I obtained my Bachelor of Arts in International Studies at Burman University. Prior to joining the MIF program, I acquired a Translation: Spanish to English certificate from the University of Toronto School of Continuing Studies. I’ve known for years that I would like to work in sustainable development. As an Indigenous person myself, I became interested in forestry as I learned about its relationship to Indigenous Peoples. On my own time, I love to read fantasy and horror books; living near the Canadian Rockies has given me the opportunity to go hiking often. In the future I hope to make a change with what I learn through the MIF program.


Albina (Abby) Needell

Needell, Albina (Abby)

I grew up in Washington, D.C. and spent much of my time inside the various museums around the city sparking an interdisciplinary curiosity from a young age. Undergraduate studies brought me to Colorado College in 2014 where I majored in Political Science, with a strong emphasis on nonviolent conflict. While in Colorado I nourished a relationship with the natural landscapes and ecosystems around me through time as an observer and working on the school ground’s crew. After graduating I moved to Atlanta, GA where I began a career as a herpetologist and educator through both a nonprofit organization and a local science center. Through educating others about the various Georgia ecoregions and biodiversity I found a passion for the forests I spent my time in, and I also witnessed some challenges these forests face. I joined the MIF program to strengthen my understanding of how different communities interact with forests. My goal is to gain the skills and knowledge necessary to begin crafting pragmatic and multidimensional solutions that benefit both the environment and the different communities involved. I enjoy playing soccer, cooking new recipes, and holding reptiles in my spare time.


Noviyanti Nugraheni

Nugraheni, Noviyanti

Growing up as a girl in Indonesia’s rural area made me realize the importance of education and how it has changed my life in many ways. Born into a family where neither of my parents went to a college, the school was a struggle. This is the case for most people living in conservation buffer zones, where there is little access to education and resources. Yet I know that I have a rich experience and perspective because of the many resources surrounding me. This background led me to pursue my study and I graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in forestry. I have over ten years of experience working as a forestry extension in Borneo’s National Parks. I am responsible for conducting ecological research and facilitating partnerships among stakeholders such as local government, private sectors, universities, NGOs, and communities surrounding the conservation area. I had many opportunities to broaden my knowledge in Conservation and Project Management in Germany. I also have experience working in different protected areas, including work as an intern in the Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge in Virginia, US. During my work, I identified that conflict in a conservation area has happened because there is a gap in strategy management between rigid policy and regulations and the local community’s practical situation. I believe that joining the MIF program at the UBC will open my mind to explore and finding a new perspective in conservation management plans, particularly to address current challenges on sustainable development, climate change, and a new conservation approach. I am excited to gain a better connection and knowledge to help the community. I built a non-profit initiative that focused on building alternative education for rural kids through libraries and volunteers. In addition to my forestry interests, I play the guitar and enjoy outdoor activities.


Petit, Janice (Elise)

My name is Elise, I’m from outside of Seattle and I will be in the MIF program. I graduated from Dartmouth College in June with a Bachelor’s in Biology (ecology). I played on the volleyball team there and will play for the UBC women’s team as well. I loved learning about forest ecosystems and sustainability during undergrad, and am excited to round out my knowledge in other areas of forestry through this program!


Natasha Silva

Silva, Natasha

My hometown is Langley, BC. I started my undergraduate degree at the University of Victoria where I completed my first two years. In 2017, I transferred to the University of British Columbia and in 2020, I graduated with my BFA in Creative Writing with a minor in Environment and Society. I’ve previously worked in both the liquor and insurance industries but knew I wanted to make the change into the forestry sector. I am a writer and will be releasing my first poetry collection in Fall 2021. I also make wine, help run a small hobby farm with my family, love hiking, biking, running, and going to the gym. I decided to join the MIF program in order to learn more about forestry, natural resources, and the communities surrounding them. I hope to find ways to merge creativity and forestry and be a part of finding solutions to some of the challenges that exist today.


Rory Tassonyi

Tassonyi, Rory

Growing up in Ontario I was exposed to the outdoors at an early age, spending many of my summers, winters, and autumns camping, canoeing, hiking, and snowshoeing around the Canadian Shield. By the age of 8 I had become extremely aware of our human impacts on the natural world and was beginning my life as a conservation enthusiast. Graduation from the University of Toronto in 2018 with an Honours Bachelor, with majors in Anthropology and Archaeology and minors in both Indigenous Studies and History has given me a unique exposure to the interactions between humans and the natural environments they inhabited. I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to travel widely, both as field research and pleasure, which exposed me to a wide variety of natural environments and cultures. The international focus on conservation first attracted me to the MIF program, and its focus on Indigenous issues and sustainable environmental management solidified my interest. It is my hope that with my prior experience and the knowledge gained during the MIF program I will be able to assist governments and organizations in making lasting environmental policy change taking into account the many social and cultural factors inextricably linked to forest use.


Gretha Teta

Teta, Gretha

Born and raised in Kigali, Rwanda. I recently graduated with Honors in Natural Resources Conservation from UBC. During my time at UBC, I’ve been an active member and leader in the International Forestry Students’ Association (IFSA) which allowed me to attend different international conferences related to conservation and forestry. During the summers, I also went back home to Rwanda for internships with the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS); where I worked as a research assistant in a Human-Wildlife Conflict project around Nyungwe National Park. My passion for tropical forests, sustainable community development and my international experience in forestry are what led me to the MIF program. This year, I look forward to being exposed to various environmental wicked problems and learn how to approach them. In my spare time, I enjoy being outside and taking in as much as possible. I love landscape photography, playing basketball, hiking and cycling.


Vaishali Vasudeva

Vasudeva, Vaishali

I was born and brought up in the multicultural city of New Delhi, India. I have received multidisciplinary training with a bachelor’s degree in Life Sciences from the University of Delhi and a master’s degree in Environment Management from Indraprastha University, Delhi, India. My initial interest in the Energy-Water nexus developed during an undergraduate research project on biofuels and later while studying water-use efficiency in Indian Thermal Power Plants at the Council on Energy Environment and Water. But in later years, I found myself more inclined toward the biodiversity-land-water linkages. I was fascinated by the immense possibilities of geospatial technology in conservation and went on to pursue a post-graduate diploma in Remote Sensing and GIS from the Indian Institute of Remote Sensing. In this program, I was a recipient of the Golden Jubilee Scholarship and was a gold medalist. To gain real-world experience, I joined the Landscape Ecology Lab at the Wildlife Institute of India in a Tiger Population Recovery Program in Eastern India. My research so far has sought to understand nature-people interactions around protected areas, mapping animal movement and corridors, and Systematic Conservation Planning for conservation and management. These projects gave me the opportunity to work closely with the Forest Managers and understand the nuances of forest and wildlife management in India. Through MIF, I hope to gain a global perspective and strengthen my knowledge and skills in the field of Landscape Restoration and Sustainable Development. Apart from my work, I find joy in painting, gardening and organizing things.


Andrea Villalon

Villalon, Andrea

My name is Andrea and I am originally from Mexico, but grew up in Ontario, Canada. I graduated with a Bachelor of Science from the University of Toronto with a double major in Environmental Studies and Forest Conservation Science. My interest in forest conservation and sustainable management grew throughout my undergraduate career. I conducted a research project where I investigated the importance of stewardship groups on the restoration of the Toronto ravines. In addition, my summer abroad program in Australia exposed me to diverse environments, as well as an inside look at sustainability and conservation issues in different parts of the world. The MIF program can provide students, such as myself, the necessary skills to become global leaders, as well as real-world experience and a greater understanding of what it means to work in forestry on an international scale. I hope to achieve a position at an international organization or NGO in which I can help put unheard communities on an international platform and bring awareness and resources to the environmental issues we face today.


Jiayi Wang

Wang, Jiayi (Lia)

I was born and raised in China and this is my first year in Canada. Majoring in Foreign Language and Literature at Beijing International Studies University for undergraduate study, I used to work strenuously to become a professional interpreter among English, Chinese and Russian. Thanks to my multilingual ability, good communication and coordination skills and international perspective, I honourably got a work opportunity at the Asia-Pacific Network for Sustainable Forest Management and Rehabilitation (APFNet) in 2018. Ever since then I have been closely connected with international forestry and natural resource management. Having worked in the forestry field for four years, I have accumulated industrial understanding and hands-on experience through work practice and I believe that pursuing the well-designed MIF program at UBC will greatly help to enhance my skills and build the long-term development of my professional career.