Okanagan (Kelowna, BC)
BSc Honours (2013)
“The opportunity to get to know your professors, participate in research, and teach at the undergraduate level is yours to take.”
Inspired by a sense of community and opportunity at UBC Okanagan, Environmental Chemistry alumna Natasha Garner is pursuing her love of the environment at the PhD level
FOR KELOWNA NATIVE NATASHA GARNER, attending UBC Okanagan meant getting a world-class education while living at home in the beautiful Okanagan Valley.
“This is a community. There is a sense of family that you don’t get at larger university campuses,” she says. “The opportunity to get to know your professors, participate in research, and teach at the undergraduate level is yours to take.”
Participating in research was the highlight of Garner’s road to earning her UBC degree. During her undergraduate studies, Garner contributed toward a joint summer project with Risk Management Services and the Department of Chemistry.
As a group, they explored the possibility of making undergraduate chemistry labs greener. Garner investigated the use of more environmentally friendly solvents, along with eliminating waste by using a product from a previous lab as the starting material for the next experiment.
Garner went on to do an honours project with Adjunct Professor of Chemistry Rob O’Brien, where she researched adding chemical species (dopants) to enhance the atmospheric pressure chemical ionization in mass spectrometry. While a lot of ionization techniques can be specific to a certain class of compounds and may not have a wide range of use, Garner’s project aimed at broadening the applicability of these ionization sources.
Since graduating from UBC Okanagan, Garner worked on campus one year as an undergraduate chemistry technician. During this time she was encouraged by UBC colleagues to apply to graduate school. The support and guidance from the campus community, particularly Chemistry Lab Manager Sandra Mecklenburg, solidified her plan to pursue a graduate education.
As a recipient of an NSERC CREATE IACPES scholarship, as well as a Queen Elizabeth II graduate scholarship, today Garner is undertaking graduate studies in Atmospheric Chemistry at the University of Calgary, ultimately in pursuit of a PhD.
“My experience at UBC Okanagan gave me a solid foundation to continue my academic education. I was introduced to research, as well as teaching, which has helped shaped me and better prepared me for graduate school.”
“I love the environment,” she says, adding that the Environmental Chemistry program at UBC Okanagan inspired her to pursue further studies in the field.
“Atmospheric chemistry is a beautiful complex mixture of instrumentation, chemistry and environmental studies. I hope to one day complete a PhD, so that I may continue to explore my passion for the environment, chemistry and learning.
“We are so blessed to live in such a beautiful world. I hope I can do my part to help ensure that future generations will get to enjoy it as well.”
—by May Li