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SRES Research Legacy Scholarship

After 40 years of research excellence SRES is pleased to announce the creation of a new scholarship for highly qualified students interested in the Master of Environmental Studies program. Eligible students would pursue research in one of the five topic areas described below.

Eligibility

Eligibility for the SRES Legacy Scholarship is limited to Canadian citizens and permanent residents. Other interested candidates should contact the faculty member to discuss alternative funding sources.

Amount

Each scholarship is valued at $18,000 per year for two years and is unencumbered – recipients are not required to undertake any TA or RA work as a condition of taking up these scholarships.

We will work with Legacy Scholarship recipients to pursue additional external scholarships. Should additional scholarship support be secured, Legacy Scholarship funds will be used to top up to a maximum of $24,000 per year for years in which additional funds are secured.

How to Apply

Interested students must contact the SRES professor associated with the project(s) they are interested in as soon as possible, but ideally before the deadline of January 9, 2017.  Although five potential project topics are on offer, only two will be funded to start in the Fall of 2017.

Eligible research projects

Social and Environmental Issues Related to Harbour Divestiture in Canada

Project lead and contact: Prof. Tony Walker (trwalker@dal.ca)

Canada's ports and harbours, including small craft harbours for fishing and recreation are vitally important for transportation and the economy. Until recently, the federal government managed and maintained a vast network of ports (>400) and harbours (>1000). The federal government has been divested hundreds of harbours in recent decades. However, current harbour divestiture policy fails to address environmental liabilities and impacts to communities who rely heavily on these harbours. This study will further contribute to the scholarly literature by providing a comparative study (including interviews and literature reviews) of divested vs. non-divested harbours. Limitations associated with changing governance will be highlighted in detail using case examples of harbours currently undergoing divestiture across Canada, with a focus on the Maritime and Atlantic region. The research will benefit local communities associated with harbour management (e.g., commercial, recreational or fishing purposes). The main aim of this research will be to help improve policies associated with harbour divestiture. 

How Can We Learn to Love the Renewable Energy Landscapes of the Anthropocene?

Project lead and contact: Prof. Kate Sherren (kate.sherren@dal.ca)
Landscape impacts are oft-cited barriers to changes that are otherwise agreed to be necessary, such as those implied by a transition to renewable energy sources. Many examples exist, however, of deep attachment to man-made and otherwise purely functional landscape features such as lighthouses, factories, hydroelectric dam headponds, that in some cases extend far beyond their utility. The landscape of the Tantramar Marshes, the low-lying area that links New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, presents a unique opportunity to explore how people attach meaning and form attachments to large, utilitarian infrastructure. A natural experiment is occurring in the region, by the overlap of the 2014 dismantling of the Radio Canada International (RCI) shortwave transmission towers (constructed in 1944) and the construction of 15 2.1 MW wind turbines in Amherst in 2012 by the Sprott Power Corp. Prospective students might use interviews, archival data, social media and/or spatial analysis to:

  • Understand the process by which attachment is formed to man-made, functional landscape infrastructure, over time;
  • Understand what drives the acceptance of and attachment to functional landscape features by locals; or,

Build insights about how to facilitate functional landscape change without sacrificing sense of place.

Landscape Ecology Meets Road Ecology

Project lead and contact: Prof. Karen Beazley (karen.beazley@dal.ca)

Fragmentation and associated losses of habitat are leading causes of biodiversity decline, particularly in a context of climate change. Habitat connectivity is required for species migration, dispersal and range shifts in support of population viability over time, including their resilience and adaptation in response to climate changes. Roads are a key contributor to fragmentation in both aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems. Both direct and indirect effects from roads contribute to wildlife mortality, with significant impacts on populations of many species. Wildlife-vehicular collisions are also of concern in terms of human safety and economic cost. This research would identify (i) important areas of habitat connectivity for particular wildlife species of conservation concern, (ii) key areas of threat to connectivity due to roads, and (iii) priority areas for maintaining, restoring and/or mitigating connectivity based on the intersection of importance and threat.

Planning and management measures for the identified priority areas will be explored, including key areas for protection, pilot study areas for more detailed analysis, field verification such as placements for sand, hair and camera traps, and potential mitigation techniques (e.g., fencing, under- and over-passes, culvert replacements, bridge abutment re-surfacing, aversion and detection technologies, etc). 

The Living Among the Dead: Prospects for Better Tree Populations in Halifax Cemeteries

Project lead and contact: Prof. Peter Duinker (peter.duinker@dal.ca)

Most cities around the world have cemeteries.  In old cities, these often include dense built infrastructure, but many represent broad expanses of greenspace in the midst of the concrete and asphalt hardscape.  In most cemeteries, if one wanted to increase the tree canopy, there is ample room to do so.  But to what end?  Well, the benefits of abundant trees in cities are numerous and undisputed, and cemeteries represent substantial areas of land - sometimes private, sometimes in public ownership - that could be called upon for increased tree cover.  So the research questions are these: (a) what is the current quality and quantity of tree cover in the cemeteries of the Halifax peninsula; (b) what opinions do the cemetery owners have about improving/increasing tree canopy in their cemeteries; (c) what is the rate of cemetery visitation by the public, why do those visitors enter the cemeteries, and what are their views about the trees there; and (d) given the answers to these questions, what are the prospects for better tree populations in Halifax cemeteries?  This project represents a wonderful interdisciplinary opportunity to combine biophysical, social, and management inquiries.  Prospective applicants would be favoured if they had skills in field work, tree identification, GIS, design and implementation of social surveys, and knowledge of qualitative methods.

Hands Off My Wind Turbine: What is the Nature of ‘Community Energy’?

Project lead and contact: Prof. Michelle Adams (michelle.adams@dal.ca)

There are many view of what “community energy” is and who community energy projects should engage. This research will seek to build on the nascent understanding of the difference between weak and strong community energy. Largely an empirical study, the intent is to conduct in-depth interviews and focus groups with stakeholders in different communities that purport to host ‘community energy projects’ in order to build on existing concepts and to develop new ones that explain the variety of meanings (perceptions, attitudes) and practices surrounding community energy development. Of particular interest will be the difference between stakeholders on such topics as: support for projects, community self-determination, energy sovereignty, project benefits and impacts, opposition, involvement in decision-making, trust and; broader issues like carbon reduction and global climate change.

Understanding the Scale and Sources of Bait Inputs to Global Fisheries

Project lead and contact: Prof. Peter Tyedmers (peter.tyedmers@dal.ca)

Many commercial fisheries around the world employ bait, typically portions of, or whole aquatic animals, to either attract targeted species into pots or traps or to ingest a hook. In some instances, baited fisheries are seen as relatively environmentally benign.  In other cases, baited fisheries are deemed to be amongst the least sustainable fisheries. Seldom, however, are the sources and scale of bait inputs to these fisheries considered. This is surprising as research indicates that the total mass of bait inputs to some baited trap fisheries (e.g. lobster fisheries in Maine) can exceed the total mass of targeted species landed by three times! This project will entail the compilation of data from around the world to build a picture of the total scale of bait inputs to global fisheries and highlight some of the challenges associated with bait provision and use.