Ziyuan ‘Kurt’ Guo, BSc


Master of Environmental Toxicology Candidate
Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, BC, Canada

Email: ziyuan_guo@sfu.ca

Curriculum Vitae (July 2022)

Personal Statement

Wishing to pursue the challenge of graduate school after completing my undergraduate studies at Trinity Western University, I applied to the Master of Environmental Toxicology program offered at Simon Fraser University, as it seems a perfect fit for my interests and skills.

My story with nature started with my father, a former coach of the Chinese National Orienteering Team. The players in orienteering games compete, usually in mountainous wilderness regions, to reach all the checkpoints on a map. When I was a kid, my father would let me join the orienteering trainings during my school breaks. I enjoyed the sense of freedom running on mountain ridges and through valleys. Nevertheless, there were some harsh memories. I remember vividly that in the early days, I was often overwhelmed by confusion, loneliness, and fear when disoriented in forests where trees blocked out the sun and bushes impeded my way. Silence dominated the surroundings, with only occasional bird sounds being heard. Sometimes a wild goat ran into my sight, which somehow drove away loneliness and eased my discomfort a little. Fortunately, I always managed to orient and find a way back, in the midst of confusion and fear. Although these incidents were scary at the time, when looking back, I always found myself appreciating the opportunities nature granted me in such situations, being completely alone and honest with myself. While nowadays I rarely get lost in the mountains thanks to improved map-reading skills, spending time alone in nature to find myself has become part of the way I live and thrive.

Once during an orienteering exercise, I was running through a valley when I became shocked by the scene: the floor as well as the slopes were coated with a white material with little vegetation. I wondered what had happened here, so I tracked the pollution, which seemed to come from a mountain pass. I hiked up and figured out that the contaminants were leakage from a mine tailing. I was sad about the destroyed forest, and, at that moment, I felt the urge to do something to protect forests. My passion for the wellbeing of the environment has continued to emerge since then and has grown, as I have witnessed many more incidents of massive pollution over time.

Throughout my undergraduate journey, I was fascinated with field work in environmental and ecological studies, as well as laboratory experiments in chemistry, especially the environmental chemistry course in which we mastered many techniques for testing environmental samples. I recognise that field sampling and laboratory testing are both important aspects of environmental toxicology, which is the main reason the MET program is interesting to me. I am well-prepared for this field with primary knowledge in regard to other aspects of environmental toxicology: chemical fate in the environment and in animal bodies that I learned in environmental and organic chemistry classes, toxic actions of several toxins that were taught in biochemistry related classes, and principles of environmental monitoring and assessment that were addressed in ecological classes.

Anyhow, I am looking forward to diving into my graduate study starting in September and wish it will go smoothly.

Kurt Guo

August 2022