Caitlin Laidlaw (Conservation)

UBC Landscapes and Livelihoods Lab, Malawi

Caitlin Laidlaw

For my first co-op work term I lived and worked as a Research Assistant in Zomba, Malawi! This opportunity gave me the chance to combine my passion for both the social and natural sciences, and desire to work abroad. Our research is aimed at uncovering to what degree the local people of Malawi depend on forest resources. At first, field days consisted of using Google Earth to navigate through local villages at the base of the Zomba-Malosa forest reserve, where we conducted household surveys. As the work term progressed we began following villagers up the Zomba plateau and into the forest reserve to conduct forest plots and GPS the location of their fuel wood collection. By working with masters students, PhD students, and UBC professors, I was able to gain valuable insight into the varying stages of academia. I have also learned how a research question is formed, turned into a project, and implemented in the field. I am extremely happy I joined the Co-op Program, as it has opened doors that I could not have found myself. I strongly recommend the Forestry Co-op Program to anyone considering it. You never know where it could take you!

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