Grizzly bear conservation supported by computing

Social Sciences

- Anne MacLaurin

Looking for wildlife in the vast valleys of Yellowstone National Park, where Zubiria Perez conducted research on riparian vegetation recovery. Photo: Jacob Shapiro

Alejandra Zubiria Perez, who graduates this month with a master's in geography, focused her UVic studies on grizzly bear behavior. She was born and raised in Mexico City, one of most densely populated cities in the world. Although she wasn't exposed to environmentalism or wildlife management growing up, her time studying at BC universities has given her a deep love for animal conservation.

In 2011, Zubiria Perez moved to Vancouver to begin an undergraduate degree at UBC. She visited Victoria often during her undergraduate degree and fell in love with the smaller city and campus that offered a more personalized experience along with more opportunities for involvement and growth. 

Throughout my master's, I found it extremely helpful and motivating to talk to other graduate students and faculty conducting research. It was inspiring to see the impact of some of the research being produced in our university and it made me want to become even more involved in the community and my work.
Zubiria Perez, UVic class of 2020

Zubiria Perez’s research brings together aspects of computer sciences, machine learning and ecology in order to study grizzly bear behavior. She developed a model that could then be used to inform management policies and contributed to current pressing issues related to bear conservation. 

“I had always wanted to study large carnivores and I was particularly struck by the passion of some researchers,” says Zubiria Perez. “I was lucky, and with the support of my supervisor (Chris Bone, UVic geography) and a few industry partners, it all came together for me,” she adds. 

Zubiria Perez loved being part of a new research lab in geography—SURREAL lab—and being part of all the hurdles and success. She shared frustrations, laughs and lots of coffee with so many amazing people who were an incredible support system. 

Alejandra is one of the best students I have had the pleasure of working with not only did she teach me a lot about grizzly bears, but I learned so much from her about hard work and perseverance. She is destined for a very bright future.
Chris Bone, UVic associate professor in the Department of Geography

When Zubiria Perez is not doing research, she’s often out exploring the outdoors—including her passion for whitewater kayaking, which began with the UVic Kayak Club. That challenging physical sport, she says, takes up most of her free time. 

Zubiria Perez is looking forward to starting her PhD at SUNY, another leading institution in conservation and environmental research, where she will continue her research in wildlife conservation. Her project on wolf population dynamics in the Great Lakes region begins in January 2021.


In this story

Keywords: convocation, student life, geography, graduate research, international, computers

People: Alejandra Zubiria Perez, Chris Bone

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