MUPpets in the field: George

Today we have a post from George, another BC native in the MUP program. He’s taken on a few internships this summer covering pretty interseting topics. Enjoy!


Like Mike A., I’ve split my hours between two internships, of which one is already finished.

For my completed internship I was working with a small team of Genivar planners on Trinidad’s National Physical Development Plan (NPDP). Prior to initiating the project, the government of Trinidad had procured development plans for each of the island’s 14 regions, but had discovered that since the plans were prepared by different firms for regions of wildly different sizes, they were nearly impossible to compare, and failed to form an intelligible whole.

Genivar’s job was to identify contradictions between the 14 regional plans and to harmonise them with one another and with national priorities to create a single document that conveyed in a more straightforward manner what was contained in the existing plans.

Different Genivar teams focused on different aspects of the plan, but the four-person team responsible for the Harmonisation Report had just lost a member who, with the help of Professor David Brown, I stepped in to replace. I performed a variety of tasks – basically anything that needed to be done quickly but didn’t require in-depth knowledge of Trinidad – but my main role was GIS analysis and cartography. It was my task to take the land use proposals contained in each of the 14 regional plans and to harmonise their land use categorisation systems and mapping styles in order to make a single island-wide land use proposal map with a simple and universal set of symbols.

I had a lot of fun pushing myself to solve problems quickly and effectively, and I enjoyed the balance between solitary and cooperative work that my job provided. It was exhilarating to be dealing with real planners on real plans for the first time, and of course all of my colleagues were responsive, respectful, and kind. After an intense month of work, we finished the harmonisation report and submitted it to a satisfied Trinidadian government.

For my other internship I’m working as an RA for the Community/University Research Alliance (CURA).

With the generous help of Dr. Yan Kestens and his CHUM colleagues, and with support from the CURA, I have acquired access to the data generated by the zone d’études en épidémiologie social et psychiatrique du sud-ouest de Montréal (ZÉPSOM), an ongoing longitudinal study organised by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) Team in Social and Psychiatric Epidemiology, led by McGill’s Dr. Jean Caron. ZÉPSOM is a remarkably comprehensive study of a region of Montréal that is home to 258,000 residents, in which more than 2,400 have participated. The central component of ZÉPSOM is a large survey focusing on mental health, but also touching on the socio-demographic, economic, and life-path characteristics of the area’s population. The 2007 data is spatially referenced, which allows it to be compared to the 2006 census, and also to be combined with geographic information such as transportation infrastructure, local land use, access to parks, and so on.

In short, it’s a huge and tremendously powerful data set. So far I’ve focused on combining ZÉPSOM and census data in order to study the effects of gentrification on quality of life, stress, and neighbourhood satisfaction, but I’d also like to investigate the relationship between quality of life and morphological features, transportation features, and urban traits like density and mixity. It’s a lot of work for one semester, and I’m not sure how much I’ll get done before my 220 hours is up, but it’s interesting stuff when I can get the software working.

Unfortunately, I don’t have any pictures of me working, so here’s a picture of Laura looking happy and me looking sad.

I can’t wait for all the MUPpets to get back to Montréal. It’s going to be a good year.

MUPpets in the field: George

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