Articles tagged with: alumni

  • Global geopark promises ‘potential and opportunity’

    Brock University releases policy brief on initiative

    REPOSTED FROM THE ST. CATHARINES STANDARD
    February 07, 2019 | By: Allan Benner

    Geopark

    Carol Phillips from the Niagara Community Observatory at Brock University discusses the potential held by establishing a UNESCO Geopark in Niagara. – Allan Benner , The St. Catharines Standard

    Niagara’s tourism potential should not be limited to Niagara Falls.

    And an initiative launched about five years ago by Geospatial Niagara should help the region boost its potential for drawing visitors to some of the more remote attractions the peninsula has to offer.

    Niagara Community Observatory research co-ordinator Carol Phillips presented a new policy brief Thursday morning that focuses on the potential that developing a UNESCO Global Geopark could hold for Niagara — such as bringing more tourists to the area and giving them reasons to stay longer.

    Phillips said a proposed geopark, to be called Ohnia:kara, would encompass the entire Niagara Region and highlight at least 78 attractions in all 12 local municipalities — “from Beamer Falls in Grimsby to Niagara Falls, from the Wainfleet Bog and Welland Canal, all the way on down.”

    She described it as an “international geo-tourism brand” that can be used by communities to promote natural and heritage resources while focusing on sustainable economic development and fostering conservation and education.

    For a tourism-focused region such as Niagara, she said being designated a UNESCO Global Geopark “is a way to advertise to potential visitors that this is a geography that you need to see and experience, and that includes everything from its geology through to its cultural history and its economic character.”

    She said there were 12.9 million person visits to Niagara in 2017, of which 8.4 million were visitors from elsewhere in the province, and those visitors spent $2.36 billion during their stays.

    “But less than half of those visitors stayed overnight, and of those who did the bulk of them only stay one night, maybe two,” Phillips said.

    A geopark designation, she added, will help promote Niagara “as more than just the day trip.”

    Phillips stressed that there is no regulatory limitations associated with the UNESCO designation that would further limit land use planning in the region.

    The initiative was first proposed about five years ago by Geospatial Niagara founder Darren Platakis, who first learned about a geopark in southern New Brunswick called Stonehammer.

    “When I stumbled upon the Stonehammer geopark site, all I saw was potential and opportunity,” Platakis said.

    He said the initiative is “all about creating those opportunities and living up to the potential that Niagara has, globally — beyond Niagara Falls and Niagara-on-the-Lake.”

    “We have such a wealth of sites to see, opportunities,” he added.

    Platakis said the initiative holds a great deal of educational potential, too.

    Although a mandate of Geospatial Niagara is promoting geo-literacy, he said many Grade 12 students can’t identify all the municipalities within Niagara Region.

    “That’s because they’re not invested in their communities. They don’t learn about their communities.”

    The global geopark initiative is “a way to attract students to Niagara to do research, to keep students here, for students that are from Niagara that go away to university it’s a stronger pull factor for them to come back to their communities if they become involved,” he said.

    Geospatial Niagara secretary Ian Lucas said funding will be needed to continue moving the project forward.

    “We have lofty goals and realistic expenses,” he said, responding to a question from an audience of about 40 people.

    “We will be coming to the point very soon where we will be actually coming out and saying, here’s our ask. This is what we would like in terms of financial support, idea support, in-kind support.”

    Lucas said the organization will continue meeting with municipal councils to discuss plans and potential.

    Phillips said much of the preliminary work has been completed by Geospatial Niagara.

    For instance, she said a formal expression of interest has been submitted to the Canadian National Committee for Geoparks, allowing Ohnia:kara to officially be identified as an aspiring geopark.

    Platakis struggled with emotion while reflecting on the progress that had been made towards making a project he started five years ago a reality.

    “If you would have said to me last year at this time we’d be here today doing this, I probably wouldn’t have believed it.”

    But thanks to the work of Geospatial Niagara members, Niagara Community Observatory and community support, Platakis said efforts to establish the geopark have reached “the end of one chapter and the beginning of another one.”

    Story reposted from The St. Catharines Standard.

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  • Brock research explores potential new tourism niche in Niagara through UN designation

    Visitors coming to Niagara have lots to see and do thanks to the region being a top tourism destination.

    New research by Brock University’s Niagara Community Observatory (NCO) says there’s potential to enhance Niagara’s vibrant tourism industry if the region were to become a UNESCO Global Geopark.

    A Global Geopark is an area containing “sites and landscapes of international geological significance,” according to UNESCO.

    “Being designated a UNESCO Global Geopark allows Niagara to brand itself internationally as a destination for geotourism,” says Carol Phillips, author of the NCO’s policy brief Ohnia:kara, An Aspiring Global Geopark.

    “Niagara has a fascinating earth history that has created so many beautiful sites, culminating in Niagara Falls,” she says. “This brand allows us to showcase those sites as well as the history and culture that has developed around them.”

    The policy brief discusses the concept of a geopark in more detail, describes the efforts of the geographic educational non-profit Geospatial Niagara to apply to become a geopark, offers case studies from other areas of the world and outlines “next steps” in the application process.

    The NCO will launch the policy brief Ohnia:kara, An Aspiring Global Geopark Thursday, Feb. 7 at Brock University. A panel will discuss the brief and the way forward for Niagara.

    What: Launching of NCO policy brief Ohnia:kara, An Aspiring Global Geopark
    When: Thursday, Feb. 7 from 9 to 11 a.m.
    Where: Room 207, Cairns Family Health and Bioscience Research Complex, Brock University
    Who: Carol Phillips, Research Co-ordinator, Niagara Community Observatory
    Panelists: Darren Platakis, Geospatial Niagara, Ohnia:kara Steering Committee; David Fennell, Professor, Geography and Tourism, Brock University, Ohnia:kara Steering Committee; Walter Sendzik, Mayor, St. Catharines; Phil Davis, Indigenous Culture Liaison, Ohnia:kara Steering Committee.

    Story reposted from The Brock News.

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  • Congratulations to Sara Epp on her successful PhD defense

    The Department of Geography and Tourism Studies is pleased to congratulate Brock alumna, Sara Epp (BA Geography ’08; MA Geography ’13), on the successful defense of her PhD on November 10, 2018. More information about Dr. Epp’s PhD research is available below.

    Understanding the Multifunctionality of Small-scale Family Farms and the Impacts of Land Use Policies on this Farm Structure

    This research analyzes the resilience of Old Order Mennonite farmers that have migrated to northern Ontario for agricultural endeavours. Over the past fifteen years, Anabaptist farmers, including Old Order Mennonites, have moved to northern Ontario as raising land prices and limited land availability in southern Ontario has restricted their ability to purchase new land. Northern Ontario, with an abundance of productive, less expensive land, has proven to be an opportune location for many farmers. These farmers have increased access to local food, broadened the productive spectrum of crops and improved food security for many communities. Their economic and social impacts on northern communities has been significant, as has their impact on the broader farm community. While the Old Order Mennonite community has grown in northern Ontario, the factors of their resilience are unknown. This dissertation examined three Old Order Mennonite communities in northern Ontario, utilizing key informant interviews with community members, municipal representatives, provincial staff and non-Mennonite farmers in order to understand the agricultural resilience of Old Order Mennonites. The results demonstrated that agricultural diversification, as well as a strong sense of community and cultural convictions were important factors within their resilience. This research also found that transformation and decline, often viewed separately from resilience, did not weaken the communities but contributed to their resilience.

    Download the full paper here.

    Examination Committee:

    • Wayne Caldwell, School of Environmental Design and Rural Development, University of Guelph, Advisor
    • Chris Fullerton, Geography and Tourism Studies, Brock University, Advisory Committee Member
    • John Smithers, Geography, University of Guelph, Graduate Faculty
    • Ryan Gibson, School of Environmental Design and Rural Development, University of Guelph, Graduate Faculty
    • Al Lauzon, School of Environmental Design and Rural Development, University of Guelph, Exam Chair

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  • New research by geography alumnus looks at fire history in southwest Yukon Territory

    Student in forest taking a tree core sample

    Tyler Prince taking a tree core sample in southwest Yukon Territory. Photo by Kevin Turner.

    New research by Tyler Prince (Brock Geography and Master of Sustainability alumnus), Michael Pisaric, and Kevin Turner was published this week in Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution. Read more below.

    Abstract:

    Previous research suggests climate warming during the current century is likely to lead to an increase in the frequency and severity of wildfire. Recent wildfire seasons in northern Canada generally support these studies, with some of the worst fire seasons on record occurring during the past decade. While we can readily track the spatial and temporal distribution of these events during recent decades using satellite-derived data, historical records of past fire activity are relatively short. Proxy records of past fire activity are needed to fully understand how fire regimes may be shifting in response to changing climatic conditions. A high-resolution fire record, dating back to the early-Holocene, has been reconstructed using a 512-cm sediment core collected from a small lake in southwest Yukon Territory, Canada. Macroscopic charcoal was counted throughout the core at contiguous 0.5-cm intervals. The core was also analyzed for loss-on-ignition and magnetic susceptibility. Fossil pollen preserved in the lake sediment was analyzed to determine vegetation change throughout the Holocene. Macroscopic charcoal analysis indicates an active fire history throughout the record, with 90 fires occurring throughout the Holocene. CharAnalysis indicates an average signal to noise index of 6.2, suggesting the peaks are significant and detectable from the slowly varying background level. Results suggest the fire regime in this region responds to both top-down (climate) and bottom-up (vegetation) factors. Fire return intervals changed in response to shifts in precipitation and temperature as well as the expansion of lodgepole pine into the region. The shifts in precipitation and temperature were attributed to the oscillation of the Aleutian Low pressure system and fluctuations in climate associated with the Medieval Climate Anomaly and the Little Ice Age.

    Access the full paper online.

    Prince, T., Pisaric, M., and Turner, K. (2018). Postglacial reconstruction of fire history using sedimentary charcoal and pollen from a small lake in southwest Yukon Territory, Canada. Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution, online.

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  • Alumni profile: Sarah Lepp

    Geography alumna, Sarah Lepp (BSc Physical Geography ’13), was recently featured in Niagara College’s Research and Innovation News. Read more below.

    Profile: Sarah Lepp

    Sarah Lepp:Profile

    Like many, Sarah Lepp was bored in her high school geography class – not realizing until university that it did not have to be all about memorizing capital cities and world atlases.

    While the St. Catharines native had always hiked in Short Hills Provincial Park, the discipline of Physical Geography at Brock gave her fresh eyes and a renewed appreciation for how the landscape was defined tens of thousands of years ago by glaciers and today by the physiographic variations.

    She’s the type always inspired by both peculiarities and patterns so it wasn’t surprising she became involved in the study of fluviomorphology, the phenomena of how water carves out a new natural integrity. It would be the first of many proficiencies to come.

    “Being out in nature has always and still does make me happy and peaceful; I always wanted everyone to have experiences like this.” It was in an effort to help keep the integrity of the environment that drew her initially to Niagara College some 15 years ago for a diploma in Environmental Technician Field/Lab before her foray into geography for a Bachelor of Science degree.

    Yet geographers are a curious bunch; they need to make sense of the world, understand how things change over time and how this knowledge could help others. Still looking to find her own place in the world, Sarah arrived back at NC’s Research & Innovation division a decade ago and worked her way to Senior Research Associate while cultivating her own path.

    Through her work at the Agriculture & Environmental Technologies Innovation Centre (AETIC), she has become highly valued in the agricultural industry for her expertise in geographic information systems (GIS), field topography dataset analysis, precision agriculture data quality, and something called phytogeomorphometrics, the study of how plants interact with the land surface (the research team has done extensive work with quantifying landforms and how crop and crop health changes with landform types).

    Continue reading Sarah’s profile here.

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  • Geography alumna Diana Aquino wins Niagara Young Professional Award

    Diana Aquino (Geography Alumni) wins Women in Business award from GNCC

    Photo from Women In Niagara (@GNCC_WIN) on Twitter.

    The Department of Geography and Tourism Studies is pleased to congratulate Geography alumna Diana Aquino, Walker Environmental Group, on winning the 2018 Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce Women in Business Young Professional Award.

    The Women in Business Awards (WIBA) is an annual event to recognize the leadership and success of women in the Niagara business community.

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  • Mapping Wins and Losses on the Rink: A GIS Approach to Ice Hockey Analytics

    Story from the Esri Canada Blog, November 1, 2018

    Contributed by Kyle Rankin (Brock GEOG ’18), Associate GIS Analyst, Esri Canada

    Like many Canadians, I like to watch Hockey Night in Canada every week, which is where I got the idea of applying GIS to analyze hockey. In the months that followed, not only did I apply spatial analysis to hockey games, but I also submitted this analysis to apply for the Esri Canada Higher Education GIS Scholarship at Brock University.  Find out what made this a winning project.

    November 14 is GIS Day, celebrated by geographers, cartographers and GIS users everywhere. At Brock University, GIS students celebrate with a project competition sponsored by Esri Canada. The winner receives an Esri Canada Higher Education GIS Scholarship, which includes funding, software, training and networking opportunities to help students continue to develop their GIS skills and interests. I decided to work on a project applying GIS analysis to hockey games and submit it for the competition.

    As Canadians, we all know what hockey means to us: passion, athleticism, power and toughness––a hockey player is as Canadian as the maple syrup. For many people, myself included, the game of hockey doesn’t mean advanced regression models and mathematical formulas. However, this changed for me when I realized there was an opportunity to apply the power of GIS and Esri’s spatial analysis tools to analyze hockey.

    Every hockey team wants to understand how they can score more goals than their opponent and win more hockey games. If you are a hockey player, you’d more than likely agree this has as much to do with location on the ice during a game as an individual player’s talent. As a young hockey player, I was constantly taught where to skate to, where to shoot from and where to defend from. That’s applying the science of where to hockey!

    Locational understanding on the hockey rink is clearly evident. So, I formulated the basic question for applying spatial analysis to player and team performance: what datasets are needed and can be analyzed to help hockey teams increase their goal-scoring and ultimately improve their chances of winning a match?

    To expand on this, three questions came to mind:
    a) What kind of data would be easiest to collect and yield the best quality result? (Shot locations, player locations, puck location, etc.)
    b) How could I define areas on the ice that are associated with higher likelihoods of scoring?
    c) How can the fast and fluid game of hockey be analyzed using hard-defined areas?

    Armed with these questions, I approached the Brampton Beast professional hockey team’s manager of hockey operations, who showed great interest in my project and agreed to collaborate with me. Together, we set out to study the location where shots were taken on the ice to conduct statistical analysis. The report I created were not only easy to read and understand, but also provided meaningful insight into the team’s games.

    Data-Driven, Evidence-Based Reports

    Using data collected from the East Coast Hockey League (ECHL) online game centre , I digitized 705 points representing the location of shots for and against Brampton during 10 of their games. I relied on ArcGIS ModelBuilder to create a repeatable workflow for querying and analyzing the data. This allowed for reports to be created with ease, as the model pulled data that matched certain criteria and then performed analyses, such as kernel density, to highlight hot spots in shot-activity on the ice. I created several reports that were based on individual player performance, single games, certain opposing goalies and comparison charts of games won versus games lost.

    The team’s staff used these reports to gain a better understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of their strategy and to adjust their game-day strategy accordingly. Such reports can enhance coaching practices with data-driven and evidence-based strategies. Especially knowing how fast-moving and fluid hockey is––for example, while nobody can tell Sidney Crosby the exact coordinates of where he should shoot from, if you give him a map showing that he scores more often from the middle section of the ice than anywhere else, then he’ll be out there in the next shift doing just that. Using these reports to interact with players can help them better understand their statistics and the analysis of their play––looking at a cool map is a lot easier to understand than numbers on a spreadsheet.

    The home plate is right at the centre of the ice in the attacking zone, where most goals and high-quality scoring opportunities occur. Shots from the home plate are more likely to result in goals, which implies that if teams focus on shooting from here, they are more likely to win. The Beast’s staff identified this as a significant revelation––they decided to concentrate on making offense from the home plate, while also channelling their defensive strategies on preventing opponent shots within this area inside the blue line.

    Continue reading Kyle’s post on the Esri Canada Blog.

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  • Geography and Tourism students put skills to the test in central Ontario

    A crisp fall breeze and the smell of pine recently welcomed Daniel Marshall into a different type of learning environment.

    The fourth-year Geography student can normally be found deep in the Mackenzie Chown Complex learning about physical geography. But, during this year’s fall Reading Week, an experiential education trip took him out of his comfort zone and into the field.

    Along with 34 other participants from the Geography and Tourism Department’s Physical Geography and Human Geography and Tourism Studies field courses, Marshall took part in a weeklong experiential learning exercise in central Ontario. The annual trip is designed to connect in-class learning with practical on-site research skills that are necessary for all geographers.

    “Sometimes in the classroom you lose focus on what you are actually studying,” Marshall said. “To be in the field and make the observations myself and get my feet muddy allowed everything to come full circle.”

    While the human geographers and tourism students went into Peterborough to gather data, Marshall and his fellow physical geographers went further afield to places such as Lochlin, Ont., where they collected soil and water samples.

    “We brought a specialized tool and took a sample from about four metres down,” he said. “We got a core that, if interpreted in a lab, could have given us 10,000 years worth of data about the area.”

    The ability to conduct applied research and maintain detailed field notes is a skill Geography and Tourism Studies Department Chair Michael Pisaric considers invaluable.

    “The field courses provide our students with hands-on experience that allows them to put their training and academic studies into practice by connecting first-hand the classroom learning they have done to the real world,” he said.

    Longstanding teaching assistant Darren Platakis, who has worked with countless students in his 10 years helping with the trip, echoed the sentiment.

    “Seeing the growth in their confidence, whether it’s conducting face-to-face interviews or using a new piece of equipment, is very satisfying,” he said.

    Gaining practical experience with tools of the trade provides students with a leg up for when their studies are completed.

    “Nobody wants to hire an advisor who has no field experience,” Marshall said. “An exercise like this makes you more marketable as a person.”

    With days of working to develop useful skills came a sense of unity among participants on the department-wide trip.

    “At the end of the day, we were all reunited as a large group and it was nice to be together,” he said. “We had a few large outdoor gatherings around the fire pits and shared stories of our day. It gave us the opportunity to become a close-knit group and contributed to the closeness of the department as a whole.”

    The work of the students in the area has also led to lasting conservation efforts in the local community.

    “Because of the work of previous classes from Brock, the Lochlin Esker and Wetlands site we visited has achieved Provincially Significant Wetland and Area of Natural and Scientific Interest status,” he said.

    For Marshall, the most eye-opening portion of the week was seeing the way the concepts learned in the classroom actually existed in the environment.

    “You can read as much as you want on a topic, but until you’re actually looking at that feature or talking to those people, there is a huge divide between what the textbooks say and the actual observations you make in the field,” he said. “It really worked for me to help close that gap and approach things in a more well-rounded way.”

    As he prepares to use his newfound experience to take on a thesis and apply for master’s programs, Marshall hopes that others will consider studying Geography as well.

    “Geography is everything and how it’s related,” he said. “Anyone who likes nature, the environment or being outside already loves geography. So, why not study it as well?”

    Visit the department’s website to learn more about Brock University’s Geography and Tourism experiential opportunities.

    Reposted from The Brock News.

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  • New research looks into the social world of female fly anglers

    New research by Geography and Tourism Studies professor, Dr. David Fennell, and Tourism and Environment alumna, Meaghan Birbeck (’14), was published last month in the Journal of Gender Studies. Read more below.

    Abstract
    Bourdieu’s theory of habitus was used to determine if a comprehensive identity exists amongst female fly anglers. Past research has emphasised a need to address ‘doing gender’ and ‘gender performativity’ in sport and recreation to understand ideology surrounding male superiority and the marginalisation of women. Fly fishing is a traditional male-dominated and masculine sport, where women are slowly emerging as prominent figures. Fly fishing presents a setting to then understand the performance of gender and the influence of social norms. A snowball sample of female fly anglers (n = 63) was obtained from an online survey, which was administered between December 2015 and January 2016. Descriptive statistical analysis of a structured closed-category online survey was used to determine if a distinct symmetry and set of practices exist in defining the identity of female fly anglers. Results indicate that a separate habitus is emerging for these women built around adventure, being in nature, identity, freedom, lack of guilt, commitment, empowerment, independence, anti-control and anti-domination, and the maintenance of stereotypical feminine characteristics through participation in this activity.

    Reference
    Fennell, D. A., and Birbeck, M. (2018). Broads with rods: The social world of female fly anglers. Journal of Gender Studies, DOI: 10.1080/09589236.2018.1515068

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  • Geography alumni share valuable insights with fourth-year internship students

    From left to right: Myda Khatcherian (BA Geography ’12, MA Geography ’15), Ebru Ustundag, Ashley Northcotte (BA Geography ’09), Edward Stubbing (BA Human Geography ’09), and Rebecca Anello (BSc Geography ’14).

    On September 21, four of our Geography alumni visited our honours internship course (GEOG/TOUR 4F99) to share their experiences in the program and the internship course, and life after university.

    Where are they now?

    • Myda Khatcherian, Case Manager, Ontario Works (BA Geography ’12, MA Geography ’15)
    • Edward Stubbing, Senior Transportation Manager, AECOM (BA Human Geography ’09)
    • Ashley Northcotte, Business Support Analyst, Niagara Region (BA Geography ’09)
    • Rebecca Anello, Junior Meteorological Technologist, Environment Canada (BSc Geography ’14)

    We’d like to extend a big thanks to Myda, Edward, Ashley, and Rebecca for coming back to Brock and sharing their valuable insights!

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