Terrestrial Research on Ecosystems & World-wide Education & Broadcast || An Innovative Graduate Training Program

Sandra Banholzer (Alumni)

Sandra Banholzer (Alumni)

Sandra Banholzer

I am originally from Switzerland, born in a little town outside of Zurich. I moved to Vancouver to pursue a Master’s degree in Geography at UBC. At the beginning, I struggled with the lack of cheese and chocolate but in the meantime I discovered sushi. I really enjoyed being in Vancouver and after two years, I also got used to queuing for the bus…

In my Masters program, I spent much of my time reading a broad amount of existing research. Unfortunately, this was quite frustrating, as the way some scientific results are presented and communicated was not exactly ‘user-friendly’.

Scientific communication does not have to change entirely, but if it comes down to communicating scientific results to the public or to politicians and journalists, effort has to be made to minimize current miscommunication.

Changing scientific communication practices is definitely a challenge but it is overdue and I think TerreWEB is a great program that tries to achieve just that. It combines different scientists from a variety of fields and trains them to teach and communicate their knowledge more effectively. The program tries to train what can be called ‘All-in-one scientists’: Scientists who have expertise in their domain science and are also able to communicate to multiple audiences.

The focus of the program lies on global change. During the last decades, this word has become a buzz word and it tends to be a little overwhelming due to its complexity. Therefore, it is especially important that science about global change is communicated effectively.


I completed my MSc in the Geography Department at UBC in fall 2012. I researched the impacts of different types of El Nino on climate in the North American west. Furthermore, my goal was to detect possible connections between those different climate impacts and forest fire patterns along the west coast.


1. Banholzer, S., & Donner, S. (2014). The influence of different El Niño types on global average temperature. Geophysical Research Letters, 41(6), 2093-2099.

2.Banholzer, S., Kossin, J., & Donner, S. (2014). The Impact of Climate Change on Natural Disasters. In Reducing Disaster: Early Warning Systems For Climate Change (pp. 21-49). Springer Netherlands.

3.Banholzer, S. (2012). The Central Pacific El Niño and its impact on weather and forest fire patterns in western North America.


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