SRES Research Legacy Scholarship

After almost 50 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 topic areas described below.


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.


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, ideally before December 1. Professors can nominate one candidate per project. Although numerous potential project topics are generally on offer, only one may be funded in a given admissions intake. As such, the project to be funded will depend on the preference of the strongest candidate who applies. If there are no adequately strong candidates, none will be awarded.

Current Research Topics

Exploring Technological Platforms to Enhance Equitable Environmental Governance at a Global Scale

Project lead and contact: Melanie Zurba

Effective mechanisms for bridging global environmental governance institutions where decision-making and governance principles are established with the experiences, knowledge, and worldviews of Indigenous peoples, local communities, and conservation practitioners are increasingly being recognized as necessary for building governance systems that are equitable, inclusive, and adaptive. Many scholars and environmental governance practitioners have articulated that establishing spaces for dialogue and interaction between governance actors who hold different values, worldviews, and experiences can significantly enhance environmental governance decision-making processes and build governance assessments and frameworks that are more relevant to those working at local scales. However, generally there is a lack of coordination and collaboration among these actors to create these spaces effectively. This project responds to need for developing new technological spaces where cross-scalar, multi-directional, and iterative dialogue can occur to create opportunities for development and recognition of capacities of local and regional governance actors, improve and effectively assess approaches to developing and applying governance assessments and frameworks, and facilitate shared learning that can enable long-term, iterative, and equitable problem-solving within environmental governance practice.

    Illuminating 'Dark Taxa' for Freshwater Assessment and Conservation

    Project lead and contact: Andrew Medeiros

    Biodiversity loss and degradation of freshwater ecosystems has been accelerating worldwide. Changes in land-use, direct exploitation, environmental change, and pollution are the most pressing direct drivers of this decline. Our ability to monitor and predict these consequences of human disturbance is reliant on accurate, reliable, and cost-conscious mechanisms for routine monitoring. However, the successful conservation and management of freshwater ecosystems is hindered by ‘dark taxa’, such as non-biting midges (Chironomidae), a group of species which is ecologically abundant and important, yet their identification is difficult, time-consuming, and requires a high level of expertise. Here, we propose a means to illuminate critical information derived from chironomid indicators for bioassessment often disregarded as too complicated for routine use by policy and decision-makers. Thus, this project seeks to evaluate (speed, cost, reliability, robustness) of two different approaches; 1) morphology-based bioassessment, and 2) deep-learning image recognition approaches for automatic identification of biological indicators.

    Happy Rocks, Happy Climbers: Towards sustainable impacts of outdoor rock climbing in Nova Scotia

    Project leads and contact:  Heather Cray and Alana Westwood

    Bouldering, top-rope, and other outdoor climbing styles are growing in popularity across Nova Scotia and the world. However, more hands and feet on the trails and rocks often means more ecological impacts. While some outdoor climbing spaces are located on public lands, many are privately-owned spaces where access is granted by the grace of landowners, contingent upon good behaviour and responsible stewardship of the space. In the absence of good climbing and approach practices, we risk not only losing access to these places, but also their physical and ecological deterioration. This project seeks to 1) evaluate the current and historical conditions of popular outdoor climbing places in Nova Scotia, 2) determine current stewardship practices of climbers, and 3) identify community-led solutions to identified challenges.

    The ‘polluter pays’ principle: Those who produce pollution should bear costs of managing it, but who are Canada’s worst culprits?

    Project lead and contact:  Tony Walker

    Environmental regulations to curb pollution should be based on scientific evidence, but where do decision-makers find relevant data? What should they do with it? Decision-makers can learn about pollutant releases from industrial facilities using Pollutant Release and Transfer Registers (PRTRs). PRTRs are widely used in many countries to support enforcement of environmental pollution control regulations. PRTRs have been criticized for data accuracy and under reporting, but they can be effective tools to curb pollution through increased engagement in decision-making. In Canada pollution data is reported annually from industrial facilities, but there are no thresholds for certain substances so there are no regulatory tools for agencies to enforce industrial facilities to comply. This project will find out who are Canada’s worst polluting culprits using publicly available data.


    Exploring heavy metal and metalloid concentrations in Western Honeybee (Apis mellifera) products

    Project leads and contact:  Heather Cray and Tony Walker

    The state of heavy metal and metalloid pollution globally is largely unknown. One indicator taxa, bees, and specifically Western Honeybees, can provide valuable data to address this research gap. This study will involve a global literature search of bee and bee product metal contamination as well as laboratory analysis of honey products within Nova Scotia. The outcomes of this study will inform regulation frameworks and quantify the scale of this issue within the province.