Water Resilience Lab

Lake Gibson

The concept of water resilience provides a way forward. It is the recognition that we require the capacity to adapt to changing and uncertain conditions and to shift into sustainable pathways when needed.

Human influences on ecosystems are recognized as a major driving force of global environmental change. Interactions and feedbacks between human systems and ecosystems are complex, ever-changing and sometimes surprising. Water resources in particular have been, and continue to be, stressed by the impacts of these interactions (for example, climate change, pollution, increasing demand). This has resulted in water scarcity, decreasing quality and serious concerns about the future of freshwater systems and the ecosystem services they provide. Ultimately, the sustainability of our water resources is dependent on the social system: the ways in which we govern and manage our water.

The Water Resilience Lab (WRL) focuses on the human dimensions of water resilience. It brings together enthusiastic and curious students and post-doctoral fellows to explore, examine, and test – using a resilience lens – ways to enhance the sustainability of our most critical resource. The lab is led by Dr. Julia Baird, CRC in Human Dimensions of Water Resources and Water Resilience.

Current Group Members

E-mail: jbaird@brocku.ca

Canada Research Chair (Tier II) and Associate Professor, Environmental Sustainability Research Centre and the Department of Geography and Tourism Studies

Julia’s research focuses on the human dimensions of water resources. She is particularly interested in water resilience, improving outcomes of water governance by improving processes, and agricultural decision-making and its impacts on water.

Ph.D. University of Saskatchewan (Environment and Sustainability)
M.Sc. University of Saskatchewan (Soil Science)
B.Sc. (Distinction) University of Alberta (Crop Science)

Gillian Dale

Email: gdale@brocku.ca

Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Environmental Sustainability Research Centre

Gillian is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the ESRC. She holds a Ph.D. in Behavioural Neuroscience (Cognitive Psychology) from Brock University, and previously held a Postdoctoral Fellowship at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her previous research explored individual difference factors (i.e., personality, affect, motivational intensity, etc.) that explain variations in cognitive performance and behaviour. She has extensive experience with research design, questionnaire development and validation, and advanced data analysis. Currently, she is interested in extending her line of research by applying her expertise in both human behaviour and advanced data analysis to real-world problems (e.g., water resilience; environmental stewardship).


Ph.D. in Behavioural Neuroscience (Cognitive Psychology), Brock University

Email: jholzer@brocku.ca

Jen Holzer holds a PhD from the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology in Environmental Studies, an MPA in Environmental Science and Policy from Columbia University, and a BA from Swarthmore College. Her doctoral work evaluated the research-implementation gap in social-ecological research in Europe using case studies in Spain, Scotland, and Romania, and provided recommendation that fed directly into enhancing European research infrastructures. Previously, she was a project manager for climate change mitigation and energy efficiency programs in California and across the US. She is particularly interested in improving the effectiveness of transdisciplinary science, integrating social sciences research and practice for better environmental decision-making.

Jen joined the Water Resilience Lab in February 2020 as a Post-doctoral Fellow with the ResNet project.

Selected Publications

A methodology for evaluating transdisciplinary research on coupled socio-ecological system

Negotiating local versus global needs in the International Long Term Ecological Research Network’s socio-ecological research agenda

Evaluating transdisciplinary science to open research-implementation spaces in European social-ecological systems

I am a transdisciplinary scholar with training in the natural and social sciences.  My research draws on qualitative and quantitative approaches to explore the social-ecological dynamics of the development and adoption of sustainable agri-food innovations.  I also study the role of knowledge mobilization in the development and adoption of agri-food innovations and the implications for policy and governance.

I have a B.Sc.Agr. in environmental biology and M.Sc. in agricultural entomology from the University of Guelph and a PhD in science policy from the University of Toronto.  I am a graduate of the Rural Ontario Institute Advanced Agricultural Leadership Program and the former George Morris Centre Canadian Agri-food Executive Development Program.  I have served as the University of Guelph Agrologist in Residence.

I am a Research Fellow with the Niagara Community Observatory at Brock University and a Visiting Research Fellow in the Department of Plant Agriculture, University of Guelph.

Lisa McIIwain

Lisa holds a B.Sc. in Human and Physical Geography from the Free University of Berlin, and a M.A. in Environmental Policy and Planning from the Technical University and Free University of Berlin, Germany. For her Ph.D. Lisa is jointly founded by the University of the Sunshine Coast, Australia and the Brock University being mainly located in Australia. Her work focuses on power dynamics that underpin governance processes and outcomes in a water governance context. The aim is to contribute to building more responsive and responsible water governance in times of climate change.

Master of Sustainability Candidate under the supervision of Dr. Julia Baird

Kaitlyn holds a Bachelor of Bio-Resource Management, majoring in Environmental Management from the University of Guelph. Her thesis research will be focused on knowledge mobilization of sustainable agricultural practices for viruses affecting grapes in Niagara vineyards.

Hannah Lubker

Doctoral Candidate under the supervision of Dr. Julia Baird

Hannah has a BSc. in Environmental Sciences from Leuphana Universität Lüneburg and an MSc. in Social-ecological Resilience for Sustainable Development from the Stockholm Resilience Centre. Her research is focused on human dimensions of water resilience, knowledge co-production, art-science collaborations and empathy.

Zaara Momin

Current Master of Sustainability candidate under the supervision of Dr. Julia Baird.

Zaara holds a Bachelor of Environmental Engineering from the Kolhapur Institute of Technology.

Natalie Seniuk

Current Master of Sustainability candidate under the supervision of Dr. Julia Baird.

Natalie holds a BA in General Studies from the University of Guelph; a BA in Planning from Dalhousie University; and a Diploma in Landscape Architecture from Niagara College. Her research is focused on sustainable practices in general populations and barriers to adoption; policy and governance; educational levers and opportunities.

Past Group Members

Emma Baker

Email: eb12jq@brocku.ca

Master of Sustainability, Co-op

Emma is a graduate from the University of Guelph with a BA in Environmental Governance and Geography, and recently completed her MRP research as part of her Master of Sustainability degree at Brock University. Her interests surround water resource governance and resilience study. In her MRP research, she will investigate the non-academic use of ‘resilience’ by completing a framing analysis within Canadian water policy.

Yuka Kataoka

Email: yk17kf@brocku.ca

Master of Sustainability Candidate, Brock University

Yuka is a graduate from the Osaka Kyoiku University in Japan with a BA in Natural Science, and is currently working towards her Master of Sustainability at Brock University. Her interests surround water resource management and resilience study. In her MRP research, she will investigate resilience history and how water resilience is applied in the context of Remedial Action Plans.

Seyi Obasi

E-mail: so18xf@brocku.ca

Master of Sustainability

Seyi holds a BSc in Biological Sciences from the University of Lagos, Nigeria and an MSc in Project Management from Robert Gordon University in Scotland. She successfully defended her Master of Sustainability thesis in May 2020. Her research focused on the governance elements of water resources, particularly in the use of the resilience principles framework to improve the outcomes of water governance.

Doren Otung

Email: do19zj@brocku.ca

Master of Sustainability, Co-op

Doren is a graduate of the University of Calabar – Nigeria with a Bachelor of Agriculture (Crop Science) and a graduate of the University of East Anglia – UK with a Master of Science in Sustainable Agriculture and Food Security. Her interests are broadly in reducing human impacts on the environment in the agricultural industry with a view to shifting to sustainable pathways. In her MRP research, she is investigating the potential of farmer social networks in fostering a resilient agricultural system through adoption of soil beneficial management practices (BMPs) using a social network analysis and resilience lens approach.

Daniel Teodoro

Email: teodoro@umd.edu

Daniel is a Postdoctoral Researcher. He holds a Ph.D. in Geographical Science from the University of Maryland-College Park. His doctoral research explored the application of social network analysis in studying how stakeholders engaged in environmental management learn from each other. He has extensive experience in social network analysis and survey design in the context of the management of social-ecological systems. Currently, Daniel is investigating the diffusion and adoption of sustainable agricultural practices among farmers’ peer networks in Ontario.

Ph.D. in Geographical Sciences, University of Maryland—College Park, MD, USA.
M.Sc. Environmental Science and Policy, Central European University, Hungary.
B.S. in Geography (Environmental Sciences), Mansfield University, PA, USA.

sherman farhad

Email: sfarhad@brocku.ca
Please find my Google Scholar profile here
Please find my Research Gate profile here

Post-doctoral fellow at Universidad de Córdoba, Spain
Member of the Social and Participatory Action Research Group, Universidad Pablo de Olavide (Seville, Spain)

Ph.D. Universidad Pablo de Olavide (Environment and Society)
M.A. Universidad Pablo de Olavide (Social Research Applied to the Environment)
B.Sc. (Highest Distinction) Allameh Tabatabai University (Economics)

Sherman in interested in human-environment relationships from complex systems perspective. Her research focuses on environmental governance (specially on water governance) and social-ecological resilience. She is particularly interested in how people connect with the environment, how social systems perceive, interpret and deal with environmental changes and uncertainties, and how diverse stakeholders (resource users, government actors and researchers) can co-create knowledge and co-manage natural resources. Her empirical work has been based in Spain, Iran, and most recently in southern Ontario.

Klara is a sustainability scientist interested in human-nature relationships and processes of sustainable transformation. She uses a governance perspective to research these phenomena on multiple levels of social-ecological systems – from the individual to supranational organizations. With her research, Klara aims to better understand how actions of individuals and policies relate and affect each other. The focus of her work is on highly-developed countries where a sustainability transformation is urgently needed to have ecological systems that can contribute to human well-being today and in the future.

Master of Sustainability, Co-op

Jillian holds a BSc in environmental geoscience from Brock University. Her research interests are how to mitigate the effects of urbanization on a watershed. In her MRP research, she will perform a literature review to investigate the implementation of low-impact development practises at a watershed scale.

Master of Sustainability

Lyndsay holds a BSc. in Geography from Brock University. Her research is focused on the management practices related to invasive Phragmites and looking into if these practices are being incorporated into strategies in Ontario.

Bridget McGlynn

Master of Sustainability

Bridget holds a HBSc in Integrated Science from McMaster University and is interested how we govern our freshwater resources. For her thesis, she is using a network approach to understand collaboration for flood planning in the St. John River Basin.

Master of Sustainability, Co-op

Kristin graduated with an Honours BSc in environmental science from the University of Ottawa. Her research interests are currently focused on the increasing challenges associated with water governance and how resilience principles can be incorporated into freshwater policies. For her MRP research, Kristin will be looking into whether resilience principles are being incorporated into freshwater policies in the Niagara Region.

Lab Projects

SSHRC IDG Project Team 2019

Individual Endorsement of Water Resilience Principles as a Leverage Point for System Transformation

This ongoing program of research is based on the understanding that individuals can effect larger system changes, and that water resilience is a suitable lens through which to consider water governance. We focus on the individual and their mindset alignment with water resilience as a critical way to catalyze a water governance shift. Within this program of research we are engaging in the following projects:

  • Operationalizing water resilience for assessment at the individual level
  • Assessing baseline water resilience endorsement in several countries across the globe
  • Understanding the individual differences – demographic, psychological, environmental perceptions – that predict water resilience endorsement
  • Using agent-based modeling to understand how individual endorsement may lead to broader system change

Outputs from this work so far:
Baird, J., Dale, G. & Farhad, S. (2020). Individual differences predict endorsement of water resilience. Scientific Reports. 10 (1), 1-11. Available at: https://rdcu.be/b3qhd

Water Governance and Flood Planning

This project is part of a partnership with WWF-Canada focused on advancing understanding and promoting the application of freshwater resilience and stewardship in Canada. Here, we are focusing on the social-ecological and institutional fit of current flood planning collaboration in the St. John/Wolastoq River Basin, which extends through much of New Brunswick as well as parts of Quebec and Maine (USA).

The project focuses on the use of network analysis to investigate fit and is being led by Bridget McGlynn.

Managing Canada’s Ecosystem Services in Working Landscapes

The lab is actively involved in NSERC ResNet: a network focused on the monitoring, modelling and management of ecosystem services in working landscapes in Canada. We are co-leading Theme 1, which aims to develop concepts, frameworks, and methods to support more effective, participatory, multi-level governance of working landscapes in Canada. This work encompasses and integrates: process and collaboration, data collection and analysis, knowledge integration, decision making, and evaluation aspects of participatory governance. While our focus is on decision support tools and methods, we recognize that this is part of larger processes that include building relationships, co-creating conceptual frameworks, models, and methodologies, and iterative learning, all of which help to build capacity for long-term collaboration toward more effective decision-making.

Our current work within the network focuses on the following areas:

  • Building capacity for the NSERC ResNet network to coordinate social sciences research across working landscapes;
  • Co-facilitating landscape-based workshops to explore shared concerns about ecosystem services and the potential for using ecosystem services as a collaboration tool;
  • Using landscape-based workshops as a case study about best practices in stakeholder engagement;
  • Conducting a social network analysis of landscapes, focused on knowledge flows within ecosystem governance processes and evaluating the social-ecological fit of the system.
  • Collecting data about governance and decision-making for the national “ecosystem services dashboard” ResNet will be creating.

We are currently leading a special issue in Advances in Ecological Research “Pluralism in ecosystem governance” targeting publication in early 2022.

How Farmer Networks Foster Resilience

This project, in partnership with the Ontario Soil Network, assesses the influence of farmer participation in a formal leadership network on building relationships and changing behaviour to enhance resilience and sustainability of their farms, as well as on the broader farming community. Part of this work was led by Doren Otung and one paper is still in progress.

Outputs from this work so far:

Otung, D. (2020). Can farmer social networks foster a resilient agriculture? Major Research Paper, Brock University, St. Catharines, Ontario. Available at: https://dr.library.brocku.ca/handle/10464/14946

How Water Resilience is Understood in Urban Plans and Strategies

This project focused on assessing the prevalence and alignment of different types of resilience (engineering, ecological, social-ecological, community) in key water-related planning and strategic documents in Toronto, Ontario.

This work was led by Emma Baker.

SSHRC Insight Development Grant

A comparative analysis of approaches to evaluating ecological outcomes from environmental stewardship

Dr. Julia Baird, Dr. Marilyne Jollineau (co-applicant), Dr. Ryan Plummer (co-applicant)

Environmental stewardship is the responsible use, protection, and care of our natural environment through sustainable practices, conservation, and initiatives designed to improve the health of local ecosystems (e.g., habitat restoration; reforestation projects; river restoration initiatives). Although an increasing number of individuals and organizations have committed to engaging in stewardship practices and initiatives, few have the resources to carefully and effectively evaluate the outcomes of these efforts after they have been implemented.

Evaluation is a necessary step that allows us to examine the degree to which anticipated results are achieved, and to learn, adjust, and adapt as needed. However, there are inherent challenges that prevent individuals and groups from undertaking effective evaluations of stewardship efforts including costs, site access and a perceived lack of expertise.

In response to this growing need for appropriate and accessible methods for evaluating the outcome of stewardship initiatives, members of Brock University’s Environmental Sustainability Research Centre, in partnership with Niagara Parks, were awarded a SSHRC Insight Development Grant to conduct a comparison of different methods for evaluating outcomes of stewardship efforts. Led by Dr. Julia Baird, this project compared the accuracy, cost, expertise required, and ease of data collection between the traditional expert-led field data collection with a series of different methods for evaluating outcomes (remote sensing, citizen scientist observations, visitor observations).

The project took place at the site of two recent Niagara Parks stewardship initiatives in Niagara Falls and Chippawa, and involved members of the local community. The findings from this project helped decision-makers and stewards develop appropriate, economical, and accurate methods for evaluating the impact of stewardship efforts on ecological health.

Outputs From the Lab


Baird, J., Plummer, R., Jollineau, M., & Dale, G. (2021). Evaluating ecological outcomes from environmental stewardship initiatives: A comparative analysis of approaches. Journal of Environmental Management. 297. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jenvman.2021.113266

Baird, J. and Plummer, R., Eds. (2020). Water Resilience: Management and Governance in Times of Change. Switzerland: Springer Nature. 311 p.

Baird, J. (2020). Charting a course for management and governance dimensions of water resilience. In J. Baird and R. Plummer, Eds. Water Resilience: Management and Governance in Times of Change. Switzerland: Springer Nature. P. 293-307.

Baird, J., Quinlan, A., Plummer, R., Moore, M.-L., & Krievins, K. (2020). Assessing the capacities of watershed organizations to navigate change: Making sense of social-ecological resilience, adaptation and transformation. In In J. Baird and R. Plummer, Eds. Water Resilience: Management and Governance in Times of Change. Switzerland: Springer Nature. P. 139-169.

Plummer, R. & Baird, J. (2020). The emergence of water resilience: An introduction. In J. Baird and R. Plummer, Eds. Water Resilience: Management and Governance in Times of Change. Switzerland: Springer Nature. P. 3-19.

Baird, J., Plummer, R., Dale, G., Kapeller, B., Mallette, A., Feist, A., & Kataoka, Y. (2020). The emerging scientific water paradigm: precursors, hallmarks and trajectories. WIREs Water. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/wat2.1489 

Baird, J., Dale, G. & Farhad, S. (2020). Individual differences predict endorsement of water resilience. Scientific Reports. 10 (1), 1-11. Available at: https://rdcu.be/b3qhd