Rowenna Gryba

Bridging Indigenous Knowledge and western science to better understand animal behaviour and habitat use
Why did you decide to pursue a graduate degree?

After finishing my Master's degree I had the opportunity to work with Indigenous hunters in Alaska capturing and tagging ice seals with satellite telemetry tags, studying ice seal movement and habitat use. Through conversations with hunters discussing the results of this work we found that many of the results from my statistical models unsurprisingly mirrored what the hunters already knew. Those conversations lead to a collaboration and fuelled my desire to return to graduate school to research how we can further include Indigenous knowledge into animal movement and habitat models.

Why did you decide to study at UBC?

The potential to study with the amazing researchers here at UBC was the biggest draw. I completed my undergraduate degree at UBC and got to experience a collaborative and interdisciplinary approach to research. That type of ideal and approach is critical for the research I do and I knew that UBC would be a place to foster that.

What is it specifically, that your program offers, that attracted you?

The Interdisciplinary Studies Graduate Program provided the perfect opportunity for me to combine my desire to research and develop statistical methods while also learning about and from Indigenous Knowledge systems.

What was the best surprise about UBC or life in Vancouver?

The UBC Museum of Anthropology is amazing as are the botanical gardens and we have easy access to both and more!

What aspects of your life or career before now have best prepared you for your UBC graduate program?

I worked for several years before starting my PhD. During that time I had to manage projects, some that lasted only months to those that were multiple years long, and work with a variety of data and researchers from multiple disciplines. All of that has helped me to approach my graduate program with specific goals in mind but also with an ability to adapt and explore new options and methods as my research develops.

What advice do you have for new graduate students?

Find a topic you are passionate about and then find a supervisor who is equally as passionate about it. Graduate programs can be long and loving what you are studying is key.


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