Update: I’m Going Back To School

So… I’ve got some news.

In January, I’ll be starting my PhD at the University of Waterloo. I’ll be doing it in Psychology, specializing in Cognitive Neuroscience. I never thought I would be a neuroscientist…

I’ll be studying how urban design influences mental health and will be working with an amazing professor named Colin Ellard in his Urban Realities Lab.

Colin has worked closely with Charles Montgomery (Happy City) and has applied a multidisciplinary approach to understanding the relationship between urban planning and mental health. He also just wrote a fascinating book called Places of the Heart which explores the connection between urban design and mental health. I’d encourage you to read it if you’re interested in urbanism.

To say that I am excited would be an understatement. If you know me, you know this is something I am completely obsessed with – and something my attention has been glued to for the past few years.

The reason I decided to do a PhD in this area is due to the observations I made when I was an occupational therapist working in mental health. I think we need a more sophisticated understanding of how our built environments influence our mental health. My goal is to one day work collaboratively with city builders and planners to build cities and places that promote wellness. Not too many people are studying this in a formal capacity, so I’m pretty thrilled to be contributing to this body of knowledge.

Anyhow. I leave Edmonton in mid December and I am sad to be leaving this city. I never thought I’d live in Edmonton, and I do not for one second regret my decision to move here. Edmonton is an ambitious and warm hearted town that welcomed me with open arms. I don’t know that I would be taking my current path were it not for my experiences here.

Witnessing and participating in the Make Something Edmonton movement showed me the importance of engaged citizenship. It also demonstrated that citizens can shape the cities they live in – for the better. I’ll take these experiences with me as I move forward to better understand how our cities shape and influence the way we feel.

If there’s anything I learned over the past few years, it’s that you really never know what to expect from life – and that you should probably always go with your intuition. I followed my gut in choosing to move to Edmonton, and in the same vein will be going to Waterloo because it just feels right.

Thanks to everyone who’s supported me during my time here. I’ll always be an ambassador for Edmonton and will remember this city as my home.

Thanks, Edmonton.

Robin

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