Grad Student Spotlight

Name:  Geoffrey Charles de Ruiter III (I added the III to make myself seem more interesting)
Age:  29 (Honestly 29, not “29”)
Program: PhD in Natural Resources and Environmental Studies

1. Who is Geoff de Ruiter?

Geoff de Ruiter is a human male who was born on the planet Earth (presumably; he cannot actually remember it happening). Variety is his spice of life with regards to what he likes to do and learn. In general, he likes to browse the internet learning new ideas and flex his imagination. He loves to rock climb, bicycle, surf, and swim. His greatest fear is death, but that drives his greatest motivation to live a humble and fulfilled life, care for others, and attempt to leave the world in better condition for future generations.

2. What are you studying/researching?

I am studying carbon stuff, but specifically how to best use biochar (wood charcoal) economically. Should we use it to just bury in the ground to store carbon, should we offset coal in power plants, or perhaps another option? I also like studying various life topics, politics, co-operatives, urban planning, etc, but that occurs in my spare time.

3. Why did you choose this topic?

Climate change (if you believe in that sort of thing!) is at the crux of many of today’s issues, including: energy, plant and animal plant extinction, and planetary homeostasis. If we can prevent or limit its progression, we will solve many unsustainable problems. My biology background kept me within this field and it is the best I can do to continue pursuing my educational development.

4. How was the research conducted?

Mainly sitting down. I tend to not research things while swimming or surfing or whatever; it’s hard on the computer, getting wet or bumped around. Overall, my research is limited to the physical science and it has some hypothetical analyses too. It is truly an interdisciplinary study, but that fits my skillset. There are still some questions and possible changes that might need to happen, but that will figure itself out in time.

5. Where would your research be implemented? What are some applications for this research?

 My study region is British Columbia. At this time BC is developing some great policies for addressing climate change and biochar is a new resource/opportunity to include in this action. Some of the applications would be the offset of coal, or as a very stable carbon sequestration method. Biochar could also show to be beneficial for some agricultural applications, but that is a complicated question.

6. When will you be graduating?

 Talk to my professors! I would like to say tomorrow, but realistically, 3-4 years from now.

7. If you could give one piece of advice to the new grad students this year, what would it be?

Care for all life, including your own, it is far too short and we are far too isolated as a planet to not strive for a better future together. I hope your research reflects this sentiment, and I am sure, in someway, it does.