Brent Thorne

Brent Thorne

MSc Earth Science

Research Adviser: Dr. Kevin Turner

Program Entry Date: September 2017

What is your current status in the program? I am currently completing the program.

Research Topic

My research is focused on identifying relationships among catchment land cover characteristics, active layer properties and lake hydroecological processes in Old Crow Flats, Yukon; which is a lake-rich Arctic landscape widely regarded for its cultural and ecological integrity and home to the Vuntut Gwitchin First Nations. I use a combination of drone/ satellite remote-sensing, soil moisture and permafrost probe measurements, as well as vegetation sampling to investigate ground cover characteristics among various land cover types. Integrated approaches being developed through my research will help to enhance understanding of the complex relationships affecting lake-rich permafrost landscapes as climate continues to change.

What made you choose Brock?

I chose Brock University for my graduate research because I had built strong relationships with many of the researchers during my undergraduate degree which was also at Brock University (BSc Physical Geography). After completing an undergraduate thesis under supervision of Dr. Kevin Turner I was inspired to continue in academia as I had developed a passion for research as well as understanding complex relationships between hydroecological characteristics in Arctic regions. Finally, my graduate research has provided opportunity for me to travel to Old Crow Flats in the Yukon four times to conduct field research which has been an amazing learning opportunity.

What have you learned in your graduate education that you would share with future or current students?

I have learned that collaboration between fellow researchers, as well as local communities is essential to developing a deep understanding of my research. For example, I now actively engage in local community meetings in Old Crow, Yukon with the Vuntut Gwitchin First Nations in order to determine landscape changes that they have identified as areas of interest/ concern. The relationships I have made with local community members as well as other Arctic researchers has expanded my knowledge base far beyond what it would have been if I had relied only on my own reading.

What are some of the challenges you have faced as a graduate student, and how did you overcome them?

A significant challenge I have faced has been managing my research while also being a father of a 4-year-old son. Although I am extremely busy due to my situation, I have felt nothing but welcoming arms and understanding from my fellow researchers at Brock who have been able to help me work around some difficulties. For example, we now set lab meeting times during my son’s school hours which allows me to be present in the same way that I would if I was not a young parent. Examples like this truly do take a lot of stress off of my work and family!

What are your tips for thriving in grad school?

Thriving in graduate school depends on many factors but one that I find most important is constant communication. This includes communicating with your supervisor on your current work, where you would like to see it go, and what your ideal deadlines are. It is also important to have constant communication with your fellow graduate students as I have learned many important time management/ research tips from them along with developing friendships along the way!

Do you feel your degree has prepared you for your plans academically and otherwise?

My degree has certainly prepared me for my goals to continue in academia and pursue a PhD. Under the guidance of my supervisor Dr. Kevin Turner, I have developed my scientific writing, critical analysis, presentation and communication skills to where I feel comfortable talking with experts in my field of research on topics which I would not have otherwise been able to before I began my graduate degree here at Brock University.