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, ideally before December 1, 2019. Professors can nominate one candidate per project. Although numerous potential project topics are generally on offer, only one may be funded to start in the Fall of 2020. 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

Can art and science work together to build rituals and vocabularies for dealing with climate grief?

Project lead and contact: Melanie Zurba

“Climate grief” is one of several general terms (other notable terms include “ecological grief” and “solastagia”) used to encapsulate negative emotions such as cognitive dissonance, sadness, and other forms of pain that people feel when experiencing loss associated with a changing climate. However, vocabularies for describing and rituals for processing experiencing climate grief are insufficiently developed, and there is a pressing need for health and educational interventions and community spaces that support people in discussing, visualizing, and processing feelings associated with loss. This highly interdisciplinary project will create knowledge and spaces that will support the development of visual and linguistic vocabularies and rituals for understanding thoughts and emotions associated with “climate grief” through engaging at the nexus science communication and art creation. The project will also make novel contributions to building a new interdisciplinary theoretical framework for understanding the responses to climate grief.

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.

Manufacturing envy: discourses of consumption and amenity in property television.

Project lead and contact: Kate Sherren

Lifestyle channels and content on streaming services have proliferated, many of which provide glimpses of property design, renovation and acquisition at the high end of the market. While entertaining, such content may create property expectations such as materials, size and other amenities such as extreme settings and views that can have substantial environmental impacts. For instance, a quest for clear views can encourage construction near the coast or in steep terrain that can endanger ecosystems and residents alike. Larger home sizes and thus energy consumption can similarly be encouraged by discussions of the need for generous space to host or entertain friends and family. This project would use the video programming of shows on HGTV and streaming services as data, coding it thematically to analyze the visual discourses around real estate that we consume for entertainment but that can influence our housing stock, its environmental impacts, and our greater resilience in the face of climate challenges.

Identifying climate resilient habitat patches in the Chignecto Isthmus region.

Project lead and contact: Karen Beazley

With sea-level rise in the Bay of Fundy, the land-connection between Nova Scotia and New Brunswick (indeed, the rest of North America) is increasingly restricted. This relatively narrow isthmus in the Chignecto region has been identified as of continental importance for biodiversity connectivity, especially in the context of climate change, wherein many species and ecosystems must move or adapt in order to persist. The proposed area of inquiry would address the questions of (1) where ‘climate resilient’ habitat patches and corridors (local connectivity and regional flows) are located, and (2) threats to these critical areas due to anticipated infrastructural (e.g., transportation, energy, communication) adaptations to climate change (e.g., sea-level rise, flooding, inundation).

    Establishing baselines and assessing the efficacy of strategies to reduce GHG emissions from Canadian fisheries.

    Project lead and contact: Peter Tyedmers

    At the UN Climate Action Summit in New York, Sept. 2019, the High Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy presented estimates of greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reductions that could be achieved from major ocean-based activities by 2050 (see https://www.oceanpanel.org/climate). Amongst the emission reductions identified are those from capture fisheries. Though capture fisheries are currently amongst the lowest GHG emitting sources of animal protein in the human diet, authors of the report presented at the UN suggest that total emissions from fisheries globally could be halved by 2050 while increasing landings marginally. This project will focus on better understanding the current GHG emission performance of Canadian fisheries and evaluating the potential effect of strategies to achieve substantial emissions reductions in the future while maintaining landings. Results will help inform industry and policy-makers regarding the relative efficacy of possible emission reduction strategies as society strives to limit warming to under 2°C. 

    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 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.

    A journey of a thousand miles: How can small business and social entrepreneurs contribute to SDGs?

    Project lead and contact: Michelle Adams

    Recent studies show that micro, small and medium enterprise (MSMEs) account for an overwhelming majority of private sector business and economic activity in both developed and developing countries. In addition, as equity and social justice initiatives gain prominence an increasing number of these enterprises are actively integrating a social element in their operations. Given the role of MSMES in the global economy, it is essential to understand their importance and potential contribution to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This work will examine how local enterprises can begin their sustainability journey using the SDGs as guideposts and do their part as part of a global circular economy.