Looking back on the SSAS program: Tyler Prince discusses his fiery thesis

Interview conducted by: Lydia Collas

Interviewee: Tyler Prince

Lake in southwest Yukon

Photo: Tyler’s study lake in southwest Yukon from which samples were taken to reconstruct the region’s fire history.

Tyler Prince has become the latest Sustainability Science & Society student to successfully defend his thesis. On the 19th December, Tyler presented his thesis “Postglacial reconstruction of fire history from a small lake in southwest Yukon using sedimentary charcoal and pollen,” to a packed audience. It didn’t take long for the examiners to reach their decision and to deliver those words that instantly lift a boulder-sized weight off any students’ shoulders: “Congratulations, you’ve passed”.

A few weeks after the defense, I met up with Tyler to find out more about his time working towards his Master of Sustainability over the last two years.

Firstly, can you tell me a bit about your research?

The aim of my research was to reconstruct the fire history of southwest Yukon over the entire Holocene, which began approximately 12,000 years ago. I completed this record by using charcoal and pollen preserved within lake sediments. Our current fire records are relatively short, especially in these Northern areas, therefore long-term records are necessary to understand how frequent fires were on the landscape in the past and how the fire regime may change in the future as a result of climate change.

That sounds like a lot of exciting fieldwork, how was that?

The fieldwork was definitely one of the highlights of my masters. I was fortunate to have two field seasons, travelling to the Yukon in 2016 and 2017 where I collected samples in Whitehorse, Dawson and Old Crow. These are memories I will never forget.

Do you have a favourite moment from your time in the SSAS program?

I don’t think I have a single favourite moment. The fieldwork is up there, as well as travelling to Boston to present my research at an international geography conference (AAG). My entire lab group traveled to Boston together as we all were presenting our Master’s research, so that was a great experience.

Over the last two years, Tyler’s talent has been recognised with a staggering number of awards and scholarships. Tyler was awarded the Northern Scientific Training Program Grant, the Ontario Graduate Scholarship, the Dean of Graduate Studies Spring Research Fellowship, the Dean of Graduate Studies Entrance Scholarship and the Faculty of Social Sciences Student Travel Award.

Tyler also has an exceptional record at conferences having been awarded the Best Master’s Presentation at the Annual Meeting of the American Association of Geographers (2017) in both the Biogeography category and in the Paleoenvironmental Change category. Tyler also won Best Master’s Poster at the Ontario-Quebec Paleolimnology Symposium.

The SSAS program, established by Brock’s Environmental Sustainability Research Centre (ESRC) provides exceptional students with a transdisciplinary education of environmental sustainability. In the 24-month thesis stream, students pursue an in-depth, novel research project – as Tyler did with such great success. Alternatively, students can opt for an alternative, 16-month route, where they complete a Major Research Paper and a four-month coop. The equal consideration deadline for 2018 entry has now passed, but for more information on applying please visit https://brocku.ca/esrc/apply-today/.

On behalf of the ESRC, I would like to once again congratulate Tyler for a stunningly successful time in the SSAS program and wish him the greatest success in the future.

Categories: Blog, SSAS Student Contributor