Congratulations to the Spring Class of 2023!

Top row L-R: Kamran Abbasov, Kelly Bute-Seaton, Alexandra Cotrufo, Tasha Gunasinghe Middle row L-R: Kristin Palilionis, Lauren Patterson, Shannon Ruzgys, Tannaz Sattar Bottom row L-R: Savannah Stuart, Tyler Thomson

On June 12, 2023, 10 students will officially graduate from the Master of Sustainability program at Brock University! Each of these students joined the program at various points throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and have shown incredible resilience and tenacity throughout their studies. On behalf of the ESRC, we are thrilled to have been a part of each of their academic journeys and cannot wait to see all that these students accomplish in their careers!

Kamran Abbasov joined the SSAS program, virtually, from Ganja, Azerbaijan in Fall 2020. He later relocated to St. Catharines in Winter 2021 to continue his thesis research under the supervision of Dr. David Fennell. Kamran’s research was titled Income “Inequality, Distributive Justice, and Sustainable Development: Implications for Niagara Peninsula Aspiring Global Geopark”. He successfully defended his research on January 24, 2023, and later presented his findings alongside Niagara Aspiring Geopark Founder Darren Platakis at the Government of Canada’s International Development Week in February.

Kelly Bute-Seaton joined the program from Trinidad & Tobago in 2021. Prior to joining the program, Kelly received degrees in Biological Sciences and Business Administration, both of which informed her Master’s research. Kelly’s major research paper was supervised by Dr. Todd Green and was titled “An Assessment of Best Practices of Corporate Sustainability Strategies in Canadian SMEs [Small Medium Enterprises]”.

Alexandra Cotrufo joined the program in 2021 and worked as a research assistant with the Charter with Facilities Management partnership. During her time as an RA, Alexandra was the successful co-recipient of a WWF Go Wild Grant with fellow SSAS student Madison Lepp. Alexandra and Madison used these funds to start the Brock University Seed Library, which was an incredibly successful initiative for the university. Alexandra’s research was also supervised by Dr. Todd Green and was titled “The Risk of Greenwashing in Corporate Social Responsibility Communications”.

Tasha Gunasinghe joined the program in 2021 with a background in Biology. Her knowledge in the field served her well as she completed her major research paper under the supervision of Dr. Liette Vasseur. Tasha’s MRP was titled “Exploring Collaborative Frameworks to Assess and Monitor Conservation Outcomes of Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas”. During her time in the program, Tasha also completed a co-op placement as a research assistant with Plenty Canada, and now works for Plenty full-time as a Conservation Governance Researcher.

Kristin Palilionis joined the program in 2021 and worked as an RA with Dr. Julia Baird on a project about Niagara Irrigation Governance. Dr. Baird supervised Kristin’s major research paper, which was titled “Assessment of Water Resilience Principles in Water Policies and Plans: Niagara Region”. During her time in the program, Kristin worked for the Regional Municipality of Halton as a Summer Sustainability Student and was named a co-recipient of the Geoffrey F. Bruce Fellowship in Canadian Freshwater Policy from Ryerson University. The fellowship is designed to support the next generation of freshwater leaders, policy researchers and practitioners to ensure the sustainability of Canada’s freshwater resources.

Lauren Patterson joined the program in 2021 with a background in Anthropology and Environmental Studies. This knowledge was helpful during her time as a research assistant for the Excellence in Environmental Stewardship Initiative. Lauren’s research was supervised by Dr. Jessica Blythe and was titled “Evaluating Public Participation in Canadian Municipal Climate Change Adaptation Plans”. Lauren’s research informed her co-op position as a Sustainability Student with the Town of Lincoln, and later her full-time position with the Halton Region as the Climate Change Response and Sustainability Intern.

Shannon Ruzgys joined the program in 2020 after completing her undergraduate degree in Psychology at Brock. Dr. Gary Pickering supervised Shannon’s undergraduate thesis and continued to supervise her at the master’s level. Her thesis was titled “Gen Z and Sustainable Diets: A Holistic Perspective. Understanding Perceptions of and Engagement with the Social, Economic and Environmental Dimensions of a Sustainable Diet”. In 2022, Shannon was the recipient of the Best Poster award at the New Zealand and Australian Sensory & Consumer Science Symposium for a poster based on her thesis research, which was later successfully defended by Shannon on October 24, 2022.

Tannaz Sattar joined the program in 2021 from Esfahan, Iran with a BSc. and an MSc. In Architecture. Her academic background was helpful in securing a co-op position with Agile Construction Inc. as a Drafter/Designer, and informed her major research paper, which was titled “Examining Types and Performance of Urban Green Space: Case Studies of Toronto, Milan, and Isfahan” and supervised by Dr. Ryan Plummer. In 2022, Tannaz was named a recipient of the Faculty of Social Sciences Student Research Award and presented her MRP at the annual FOSS Research Colloquium in December 2022.

Savannah Stuart joined the program in 2020 with a background in Environmental Science and Ecology. Like fellow graduate Lauren Patterson, Savannah worked as a Research Assistant with the Excellence in Environmental Stewardship Initiative and this partnership became the basis of her thesis research. Savannah’s thesis was supervised by Dr. Ryan Plummer and was titled “Exploring people-place relationships through place attachment and wellbeing in the context of the abrupt social and ecological change associated with the COVID-19 pandemic”. She successfully defended this research on August 31, 2022 and has since began her PhD studies at the University of Waterloo.

Tyler Thomson joined the program in 2021 from Western University with a background in Business Management. He worked as a research assistant for the ESRC’s partnership with the Town of Lincoln, the Brock-Lincoln Living Lab and later took on a co-op position with the Regional Municipality of Niagara. Tyler’s MRP research was supervised by Dr. Marilyne Carrey and was titled “Urban forest management planning: A case study of municipalities in Southern Ontario”.

In addition to our 10 SSAS graduates, we’d also like to offer our sincere congratulations to the 10 undergraduate students who will be graduating with a Minor in Environmental Sustainability: Jared Boles, Allegra Caballero, Olivia Davies, Joseph Evans, Lily Piccolo, Meghan Rados, Emma Smith, Claire Taller, Easton Thibeault, and Holly Warren.

Congratulations to all of these students, and best wishes to all of you in your future academic endeavours!

Categories: Blog, Minor in Sustainability, SSAS Program