July Student of the Month: Saori Ogura

Name: Saori Ogura

Program: Doctor of Philosophy in Rehabilitation Sciences (PhD)

Supervisor: Dr. Susan Forwell

What project are you currently working on?

Maintaining agricultural biodiversity is key to adapt to climate change. Under the supervision of Prof. Susan Forwell, I’m exploring the meaning of traditional small grains cultivation to farmers and their community members in Japan. Small grains, such as foxtail millet or sorghum, are high in nutritious value, climate-resilient, and have been cultivated in different parts of the world for thousands of years. However, the number of cultivators and local seeds have been drastically reduced. This PhD project uses occupational science lens, visual methodology, as well as participatory action research methods, contributing to intergenerational knowledge transmission and advancing local sustainability. I created a documentary film as part of this project, aiming to bridge the generational gap between the old and the young.

What is it like like conducting research in Japan?

Japan is my home country, but I realized I only knew the surface of it. By engaging with three different communities both in the southern and northern parts of the country, I found significant differences in terms of their history, climate and culture. I also found that the traditional shifting cultivation in southern Japan is very similar to the one in Sikkim Himalaya, where I spent a year in 2011. To find out similar meanings of small grains cultivation across the world, I am collaborating with my friends in Sikkim Himalaya and Mazvihwa, Zimbabwe that I’ve been working with, as a side project.

What do you like to do outside of academia?

I can be myself when I’m in the natural environment. Over the past two years of my stay in Japan, I took a course on forest therapy and became a forest medical trainer. I enjoy helping people opening their five senses and improving their health. I’m hoping to continue this practice after I go back to BC!


Congratulations Saori on being our featured Student of the Month for July! Interested in seeing what else our Rehabilitation Sciences students and trainees are working on? Stay tuned for our next feature!