Twin grads Louise (L) and Lydia Teh will use their degrees to better understand marine conservation - photo by Martin Dee
UBC Reports | Vol. 52 | No. 5 | May 4, 2006
Sisters pursue international conservation
By Hilary Thomson
Is it double vision, déjà vu or a doppelgänger?
The Chan Centre audience may be doing double takes when identical twins Lydia and Louise Teh pick up Master of Science degrees later this month.
The sisters and their family moved to Vancouver from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in 1989, and have been working in tandem throughout their academic life.
They both earned BComm degrees from UBC in 2000, with Louise specializing in finance and Lydia focused on marketing. But after working as financial analysts and researchers, they decided careers in commerce were not for them.
A self-directed course in their final year had introduced them to the subject of sustainability and brought them back to UBC in 2003 to pursue degrees in Resource Management and Environmental Studies.
The now 28-year-old sisters remained connected for their fieldwork on the island of Banggi, Malaysia.
“Actually, we didn’t even know of this remote island’s existence prior to our research,” says Louise, who along with her sister also speaks Malay, Cantonese, and Mandarin.
They stayed a total of three months on Banggi where Louise studied local reef fisheries.
“We didn’t know what to expect when we went there, but people were very friendly and we spent lots of time with fishers both on the dock where we measured, weighed and counted fish, and on the water. They took us out and taught us how to fish,” she says.
Lydia looked at the feasibilty of sustainable eco-tourism.
“Expectations for tourism revenue are high and there’s a need to help islanders understand the limits, such as biophysical conditions.”
Both women hope to return to the island to continue research in coastal zone management and marine conservation.
“We got to know the people in these fishing communities — we want to go back there and make a positive difference,” says Lydia.
When they aren’t studying, the duo can be spotted in local recreation spots hiking, backpacking, snowshoeing, or diving.