Alexander Chen is a highly driven and inspired Top 25 recipient who chooses effective communication as his top tool when it comes to addressing environmental issues – particularly climate change. “I have taken up this task to promote dialogue between all members within my local community to think about climate change.” And that he has.
As a part of his Environmental Science program at Simon Fraser University (Burnaby, BC), Alex is using his skills in geovisualization to help others (literally) see the potential impacts of climate change within eastern Canada. He is currently working on a project designed to enable visualization of sea-level rise activity within Prince Edward Island. The practical features of this project include interactive tools that allow users to observe flood risks and also have the ability to explore methods of potential flood control for the future. He hopes to “influence stakeholders’ cognitive and affective (or emotive) understanding, and influence individual and collective behaviour to respond appropriately to climate change”.
Alex has also recently done work with Sustainable SFU, a student-led, non-profit society, helping to ensure the future success of the organization by creating measureable objectives and goals. He served as the main Sustainable SFU contact for other groups at the university who had questions or concerns about achieving sustainability on campus. Alex was also largely responsible for creating connections with organizations outside of SFU, such as other universities in the Vancouver area.
An education in Environmental Science has introduced Alex to the opportunities – and barriers –created in the wake of complex environmental problems. He understands the political, social, and financial implications of all decisions regarding the environment, as well as the consequences that each decision may have. Because of this, he takes an active role to engage other students within an academic setting, introducing them to new perspectives and initiating conversation about pressing environmental issues.
Alex credits environmental forums and blogs, such as The Starfish, as a source of inspiration. “It is blogs and contests like this that truly help and inspire people of all walks of life to participate in dialogue about environmental issues.” Upon finishing his undergraduate degree, he hopes to continue his studies within Geography or Resource and Environmental Management, and to “continue to be an active member within my local community to help more people understand climate change.”
Great work, Alex, and congratulations on securing a well-deserved spot in this year’s Top 25 list!