Postcard from Brazil: UBC undergrad takes her research to Curitiba

UBC undergraduate student Eugenia Kwok is doing animal welfare research in Brazil through the Mitacs Globalink Research Award.

Currently in my third year in the Applied Animal Biology program at the University of British Columbia, I have always wanted to expand my horizons by spending time overseas.

I learned about the Mitacs Globalink Research Award through a program advisor and decided to apply. This research award provides travel and accommodation funding for undergraduate and graduate students to conduct research outside of Canada.

For the next three months I will be living and studying in Curitiba – the largest city of Paraná, with a population of just under two million people.  My field work will take place in the town of Campo Largo, a neighbouring city to Curitiba.

My biggest challenge here has been the language barrier – I have been furiously learning Portuguese! It gives me much pleasure to watch locals smile while they listen to my newly learned Portuguese phrases.

My research focuses on stray dog behaviour and welfare, and the complex web of relationships that these dogs share with other animals and people in their community.

Campo Largo is home to a special group of stray dogs called “community dogs”, which are cared for by community members in their neighborhood. However, they are free to roam the streets and have no true owner or guardian. My research involves studying the behaviour of these dogs, making observations on the interactions between community dogs and people, and comparing the differences in social dynamics between packs of dogs and solitary individuals.

It is often difficult to find grant programs that are interested in funding undergraduate-level research. After learning about the Mitacs Globalink Research Award, I successfully applied for the funding with the help of  my supervising professors at UBC and the Federal University of Paraná.

Mitacs Globalink has given me the opportunity to explore all the avenues of animal welfare research that I never imagined I would be able to experience, as well as build strong connections with researchers in Brazil.

In the coming months, I look forward to focusing on data collection for my research, but also learning more about Brazilian culture and enjoying the beauty of this country. I hope to widen my views as both a student and an animal welfare researcher, so that I can share my experiences with colleagues and staff back in Vancouver, Canada.

Mitacs thanks the Government of Canada and the Government of British Columbia for their support of the Globalink Research Awards program in this story. Across Canada, the Globalink program also receives support from Alberta Innovates, the Government of New Brunswick, the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, the Government of Nova Scotia, the Government of Ontario, the Government of Prince Edward Island, the Government of Quebec, the Government of Saskatchewan and Research Manitoba.

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