Alison Murata [B.Env.Sc.(Hons.) Co-op, 2010] is a provisional Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Renewable Resources, at the University of Alberta.
She has been interested in the environment her entire life. Even in elementary school she was part of the Green Team (a recycling club) and loved watching nature documentaries. When she arrived at the U of M, the Environmental Science program seemed like the logical choice. Alison took a soil science course during her undergraduate program and really enjoyed it. She went on to take more soil science courses and after her B.Env.Sc.(Hons.) Co-op completed an M.Sc. in Soil Science in 2013.
Alison points to the Co-op program as one of the biggest factors in her time at the University of Manitoba. Through the program, she ended up working as a summer research assistant in the Department of Soil Science for two years. This was a great introduction to a variety of aspects of research including field work, laboratory work, statistics, and report writing. Another big influence was the support and encouragement of several professors who led her on the path to graduate studies and provided her with many employment, research, and funding opportunities.
Alison learned many technical skills such as field and laboratory techniques, how to conduct literature searches, and statistical analysis at the U of M which have been useful in her graduate research. However, she also points to soft skills such as teamwork, leadership, and communication as very important as in her graduate work she is constantly working and communicating with others whether it be carrying out laboratory experiments, meeting with professors, or presenting at conferences.
To quote Alison "My favourite aspect of my work as a graduate student is having the opportunity to work on solutions to current, relevant environmental issues amongst people who are passionate about their jobs and generous with their expertise".