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 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, but ideally before the deadline of January 9, 2019.  Although seven potential project topics are generally on offer, only two will be funded to start in the Fall of 2019.

Current Research Topics

Is the future actually a reflection of the distant past? Conservation planning through paleolimnology

Project lead and contact: Andrew Medeiros

A challenge for resource management and conservation planning is baseline knowledge of how ecosystems operate. Without knowledge of the natural trajectory of change, how do we establish what the goalposts are for conservation efforts? Likewise, monitoring information is often lacking, or not possible to obtain, with traditional surveys because ecosystems have already been influenced by centuries of human intervention and change. This project directly explores the potential of paleolimnology to address the lack of data needed to make decisions for conservation planning. Paleolimnology is the study of indicators preserved in lake sediment through time. With these methods, lakes acan serve as storybooks of the past, and the information contained can be used to calibrate our projections for the future. This research will both outline the potential for paleolimnology in conservation planning, as well as outline a specific resource development legacy and conservation challenge for a community in the Canadian Arctic.

Can nature-based programs improve health and wellbeing outcomes for newcomers? Exploring nature as vehicle for holistic health promotion and community-building

Project lead and contact: Melanie Zurba

The challenges for newcomers to Canada are many. Some of the many struggles include accessing culturally appropriate services, maintaining health and wellbeing, and developing a sense of place and community. In response to these struggles, newcomer communities and local service providers have implemented holistic approaches that are aimed to empowering communities to find health, wellbeing, and a sense of place within their own terms. Among these approaches, nature-based solutions, such as community gardens and outdoor programs, have been developed and well received by some parts of the newcomer community. However, knowledge and service gaps remain with regard to reaching different cultural and age groups. This research will partner directly with newcomer service providers in Nova Scotia to identify gaps in nature-based programs, build evaluation frameworks for assessing the health and wellbeing outcomes from these programs, and develop future participatory action research agendas that provide direct benefits for communities.

Passing the puck or passing the buck? Social and environmental issues related to harbour divestiture in Canada

Project lead and contact: Tony Walker  

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 divested hundreds of harbours in recent decades. However, current harbour divestiture policy fails to address environmental liabilities and impacts to communities that 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. This research will benefit local communities that rely on harbours for commercial, recreational, or fishing purposes by improving current harbour divestiture policies. 

Last one in, shut the door: Understanding local opposition to urban densification

Project lead and contact: Kate Sherren

Most of us now live in cities. Experts advocate for more compact urban forms, rather than sprawl, to improve carbon footprints, as well as cultural vitality, economic activity, and public health in cities. Compact cities are more walkable and have more effective public transit, and the numbers of people working and sleeping there are boons for businesses and cultural institutions alike. For most cities to become compact requires the densification of existing neighbourhoods. Like renewable energy, densification goals are often supported in general, but support weakens upon application. Locals often fight to maintain the status quo in the face of densification developments. The success of those residents depends in part on their social position. This research will explore the local experiences of urban densification planning, using case studies yet to be determined and the emerging concept of ‘climax thinking’, to identify social leverage points for urban transformation towards sustainability.

We are the 99%: Creating space for small and medium sized businesses (SMEs) in the circular economy

Project lead and contact: Michelle Adams

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are increasingly aware of the benefits of closing loops and improving resource efficiency, such as saving material costs, creating competitive advantages, and accessing new markets. At the same time, however, there are various barriers preventing SMEs from being able to integrate into the circular economy, a concept that is currently dominated by strategies and initiatives developed to support large corporations and multi-nationals. The aim of this research is to increase knowledge and understanding about the barriers experienced by SMEs when implementing circular economy business models, and how to create sustainable opportunities for the large percentage of private sector enterprises not represented by large corporate interests.

Planning for Continental Connectivity in the Chignecto Isthmus

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 concern and priority for terrestrial biodiversity connectivity, especially in a 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 where (1) climate resilient sites and (2) key connectivity areas (local connectivity and regional flows) are located, and where (3) threats to these critical areas exist now or are anticipated due to infrastructural (e.g., transportation, energy, communication) adaptations to climate change (e.g., sea-level rise, flooding, inundation).