Uuganbadrakh Oyunkhishig

Critical analysis of Canadian environmental voluntary approaches in terms of protecting biodiversity: in case of Toward Sustainable Mining Initiative
Bern Klein
UBC Sustainability Scholar Program
Why did you decide to pursue a graduate degree?

Since 2006 I have worked both in non-profit conservation organizations and a university in Mongolia. There, at the University of Life Science, I worked in a range of positions, from field research to assistant lecturer. This was good for my skills professionally. However, I had felt inadequate in my capability to conduct sophisticated biodiversity research without more advanced academic training. My interest in graduate studies stemmed from the Mongolian conference of ecological restoration, in which I was one of the main organizers. This event made me think about ways to harmonize biodiversity conservation and the prosperity of the mining sector and provoked me to pursue a graduate degree.

Why did you decide to study at UBC?

I applied to master’s programs at several universities in Canada, the US, and the EU. The reason why I chose UBC among them was that UBC is one of the best universities in the world to study a master’s degree in mining engineering, with a focus on environmental issues. The high standard of academic training available combined with access to world-class professors and teaching staff could give me first-hand practical knowledge and skills. Also, studying in one of the top-ranked universities in the world, surrounded by the ocean and mountains, was my dream.

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

The sophisticated expertise of Dirk Van Zyl in mine waste management, Bruce Marshall in Environmental technologies and issues in Mining, Nadja Kunz in mine water management, have been a crucial resource for my research. I’d also like to thank my thoughtful supervisor, Bern Klein, and the really supportive community in our department of the Norman B.Keevil Institute of Mining Engineering for their continued advice and support.

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

For me, it’s nice that UBC campus is very friendly to students like me who have children. Campus is not only a safe, and well-developed green environment, but also has the finest daycares for kids. I also like that during the winter in Vancouver, you can do winter recreational activities (skiing, skating, etc.) and summer activities (soccer, biking, etc.) all in the same day.

I chose UBC because of the high standard of academic training available combined with access to world-class professors and teaching staff. Also, studying in one of the top-ranked universities in the world, surrounded by the ocean and mountains, was my dream.
What aspect of your graduate program do you enjoy the most or are looking forward to with the greatest curiosity?

I really enjoyed studying how voluntary environmental approaches in the mining sector influence biodiversity and environmental stewardship. Throughout this journey, I met many students, professors, and field experts who gave me lots of valuable information and advice.

What do you see as your biggest challenge(s) in your future career?

Data science, such as artificial intelligence, deep learning, and automation is significantly changing every sector of my Industry. Adapting to those digital shifts effectively will be both the biggest challenge and opportunity in my future career.

How do you feel your program is preparing you for those challenges?

By keeping up to date on the latest trends in the mining industry my professors and supervisors are able to give me relevant advice for my future career. For example, when I recently attended an alumni dinner, the keynote speaker noted how data science has made its way into so many branches of industry and that we should learn relevant pieces of data science even if we weren’t data scientists. Right now, I am learning the R programming language for data manipulation, statistics and data visualization with graphs on my future research. Once I master this programming language, it will be one of my greatest assets in my career and research.

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

Before enrolling in my program, I worked in several field research projects and the Mongolian university of life science. I learned teamwork, wilderness survival training, animal handling, and a variety of ecological and statistical analysis methods. These were great preparation for my graduate program here at UBC.

What do you like to do for fun or relaxation?

I love spending time with my family, especially my two sons. I Also, exercise regularly to stay healthy and improve my mood. As for outdoor activities, I love biking, kayaking, bird watching and taking photographs.

What advice do you have for new graduate students?

I would advise new graduate students to start building their personal network right away after enrolling in their program. It will help them find a job, increase their exposure to new research, and obtain experiences from others. They should also build a healthy work-life balance. There are a lot of activities available on UBC campus, including ice skating, swimming, indoor rock climbing, and so on.


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