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

Julia Baird

E-mail: jbaird@brocku.ca

Assistant Professor, Environmental Sustainability Research Centre 

Julia Baird is an Assistant Professor at Brock University. 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 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)

Emma Baker

Email: eb12jq@brocku.ca

Master of Sustainability Candidate, Brock University

Emma is a graduate from the University of Guelph with a BA in Environmental Governance and Geography, and is currently working towards her Master of Sustainability 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.

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

Postdoctoral Fellow in Environmental Sustainability Research Centre, Brock University
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.

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 recommendations 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 how social processes can affect complex, place-based decision-making, especially in the context of conservation and nature-based solutions.

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

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 focusses on resilient water governance exploring the resilience concept with the aim to contribute to building responsive and responsible resource governance in times of change and adversity.

Seyi Obasi

E-mail: so18xf@brocku.ca

Master of Sustainability Candidate, Brock University

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 is currently working towards her Master of Sustainability at Brock University. Her research focuses on the governance elements of water resources, particularly in the use of the resilience principles framework to improve the outcomes of water governance.

Past Group Members

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.

SSHRC Insight Development Grant

SSHRC IDG Project Team 2019
SSHRC IDG Project announcement with Niagara Parks Commission partners at Brock on March 25, 2019

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, have recently been 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 will compare 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 will take place at the site of two recent Niagara Parks stewardship initiatives in Niagara Falls and Chippawa, and will involve members of the local community. The findings from this project will help decision-makers and stewards develop appropriate, economical, and accurate methods for evaluating the impact of stewardship efforts on ecological health.