Articles tagged with: graduate studies

  • Flight PK404: 32 years after the disappearance of the plane a Canadian researcher relives his narrow escape

    FROM THE HIGH ASIA HERALD | By: Dr. David Butz

    Flight PK404

    On the morning of August 25, 1989, I was walking from the Park Hotel to the Gilgit Airport, feeling happy, excited and satisfied. I had successfully completed a three-month research season in Shimshal village of Gojal, upper Hunza followed by a few days’ relaxations at Karimabad and Gilgit, and was now beginning my journey back home to Canada. Moreover, through a stroke of good fortune (and the influence of well-positioned friends in Gilgit) I had managed to secure a confirmed seat on Flight PK404, travelling from Gilgit to Islamabad (never an easy feat). This was my first chance to make this journey by plane, after nine previous long and uncomfortable trips on the Karakoram Highway by bus, public van, or private vehicle. I was in high spirits.

    As I was walking to the airport with my heavy backpack and other luggage a Danish friend (Micael Junkov) who was working in Gilgit pulled up in a Toyota Hilux pickup truck to enquire where I was going. I told him I was headed for the airport to catch a flight to Islamabad. Micael said I’m driving to Islamabad today. Why not come with me? I replied, “because I have a confirmed booking on this morning’s flight”. Micael looked at the sky and observed, “I don’t think the flight will operate today, because the weather is cloudy. Either come with me now or take your chances”.

    Flights from Gilgit only fly in fair weather, even today, and the road journey takes a full day, so he wasn’t willing to wait to see if the plane would depart with me onboard. Micael was more familiar with flying from Gilgit than I was, so I accepted his invitation and hopped in the truck, thereby unknowingly saving my life. As it turned out, Flight PK404 departed from the airport, lost radio contact nine minutes later, and subsequently disappeared along with its 49 passengers and five crew members. Thirty-two years on, no trace of the plane has since been discovered.

    When I arrived in Islamabad I took a taxi to a cheap hotel in Rawalpindi to relax for a few days before catching my international flight to Canada. I didn’t have access to a radio or TV and didn’t happen to buy an English-language newspaper, so I remained unaware of the plane’s tragic and mysterious disappearance and my own narrow escape. In those days using a PCO (Public Call Office) to make international telephone calls from Pakistan was complicated and time-consuming, so it was fully two days later that I managed to place a call to Canada to confirm my arrival date and time with my partner Nancy. That’s when I learned of the tragedy. Nancy had heard of the plane’s disappearance the day it happened and spent two anxious days wondering if I had been on the flight.

    Ghulam Muhammad Baig, popularly known as G.M. Baig. Photo credit: Dr Inam Baig

    Several people we knew were on board, including Ghulam Muhammad Baig, popularly known as G.M. Baig, owner of a bookstore in Gilgit that served as a hub for local intellectuals and a haven for many foreigners travelling through Gilgit in those days.

    I offer my continuing condolences to the families of the passengers and crew, who have still to learn any details of their loved ones’ fate. I often wonder who among the standby passengers was given my seat (no doubt to their delight), thereby inadvertently trading their life for mine. I later learned that several other Pakistani friends also had confirmed seats, but made the same decision as I did to make the trip by road given the cloudy weather and the likelihood that the flight would be cancelled.

    For many years subsequently, Nancy and I avoided flying between Gilgit and Islamabad, preferring the discomfort of public transport by road. In the past decade or so we have flown this route numerous times (it is breathtaking), but always with a heavy dose of trepidation. To date, I have made the journey between Gilgit and Islamabad 40 times, eight times by air and 32 times by road. One of those eight flights was in summer 2010 when much of Pakistan was under water, and the Karakoram Highway was impassable in many places because of torrential rains and flash floods. I was among an assortment of foreigners, VIPs and military personnel who were airlifted from Gilgit in C-130 military cargo planes. Although the stakes were not high for me (it was just a matter of catching my scheduled international flight), this was another exciting flight.

    Heartfelt thanks to Micael Junkov and the hand of fate. Together they allowed me to trade an early death at the age of 28 for a pleasant 14-hour drive down the Karakoram Highway in a private (and air-conditioned) vehicle. Without their intervention, I would have missed a lot.

    Dr David Butz is a Professor of Geography and Tourism Studies at Brock University, St. Catharines, Canada. He is also Editor-in-Chief of the journal, Studies in Social Justice.

    STORY FROM THE HIGH ASIA HERALD

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  • Julia Hamill successfully defends MA Geography thesis

    The Department of Geography and Tourism Studies would like to congratulate Master of Arts in Geography student, Julia Hamill, on the successful defence of her thesis titled “‘Molida’, That’s Shimshali Food: Modernization, Mobility, Food Talk, and the Constitution of Identity in Shimshal, Pakistan” as well as on the successful completion of all requirements for the MA in Geography.

    Congratulations and thanks to Julia’s supervisory committee: Dr. David Butz (Supervisor), Dr. Mike Ripmeester (Committee Member) and Dr. Nancy Cook (Committee Member).

    Many thanks as well to Julia’s External Examiner, Dr. Hasan Karrar (Lahore University of Management Sciences, Pakistan) and Defence Chair, Dr. Rosemary Condillac.

    Wishing you all the best with your future endeavours, Julia!

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  • Geography graduate students share their research at the 2021 MNK: GRADconnect Conference

    Three of our Master of Arts in Geography students shared their research at Brock’s 2021 MNK: GRADconnect Conference this week:

    • Lina Adeetuk “Rural Youth’s Perspectives on the Significance and Impacts of New Roads: The Case of Kaasa- Zogsa Road, Builsa North District, Ghana”
    • Julia Hamill “‘Molida’, that’s Shimshali Food: Modernization, Mobility, Food Talk, and the Constitution of Identity in Shimshal, Pakistan”
    •  Hannah Willms “Airbnb in the age of a housing crisis: A case study of housing affordability and vacation rental regulations in Niagara Falls, ON”

    Lina, Julia and Hannah did a fantastic job presenting at this virtual conference. We look forward to seeing their completed research in the coming months.

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  • MA in Geography student receives 2020 Graduate Student Research Award

    The Department of Geography and Tourism Studies is pleased to congratulate Geography Master of Arts student, Rebekah Casey (BA Tourism and Environment ’19), who was recently awarded a Faculty of Social Sciences Master of Arts Student Research Award for her research, tentatively titled “There’s No Place Like (Rural) Home: Why People Choose Rural Despite Decline.” Congratulations also to Rebekah’s MA supervisor, Dr. Christopher Fullerton.

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  • MA in Geography alumna receives 2020 Best Graduate Thesis Award

    The Department of Geography and Tourism Studies is pleased to congratulate Geography MA alumna, Katelyn Pierce (’20), who was recently awarded the 2020 Faculty of Social Sciences Best Graduate MA Thesis Award for her thesis titled “Detached from Our Bodies: Representing Women‘s Mental Health and Well-being with Graphic Memoirs.” Congratulations also to Katelyn’s MA supervisor, Dr. Ebru Ustandag.

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  • Geography and Tourism Studies Chair receives Michael Plyley Graduate Student Mentorship Award

    The Faculty of Graduate Studies (FGS) has named the five recipients of the annual FGS Awards, which were delivered the news in a virtual format for the first time in the awards’ nine-year history.

    The awards, typically handed out at the Mapping the New Knowledges Graduate Student Conference in April, celebrate the accomplishments and excellence of members of Brock University’s graduate community.

    “Despite not being able to recognize our winners in-person at this time, handing out these awards is still an important and meaningful celebration of the outstanding graduate culture that Brock has worked hard to grow,” says Diane Dupont, Interim Dean of Graduate Studies. “Our winners have all greatly contributed to making Brock an excellent place to pursue graduate education.”

    Marilyn Rose Graduate Leadership Award

    The Marilyn Rose Graduate Leadership Award, which recognizes a faculty, staff and students for their work and leadership in developing and/or enhancing graduate studies and the graduate student experience for students, was presented to Rachel Yufei Luan.

    “To me, leadership is all about inspiring people,” says Luan, a second-year student in the master of Business Administration International Student Program. “It’s not only what you say you and do, but how you say and do it. People with good leadership skills can influence their community every day.”

    Michael Plyley Graduate Mentorship Award

    The Michael Plyley Graduate Student Mentorship Award normally awards two Faculty members for their outstanding mentorship of graduate students, one in the category or mentorship of only master’s students, and one in the category of mentorship of both master’s and PhD students. However, this year the adjudication committee was unanimous in their decision to name four award winners.

    Michael Pisaric, Professor in the Department of Geography and Tourism Studies, and Karen Fricker, Associate Professor in the Department of Dramatic Arts, were awarded the Mentorship Award in the master’s only category.

    Pisaric says receiving the award was “easily one of the highlights of my career.”

    “When my students approached me about the nomination, I was touched that they thought of me in such regard as to nominate me. To actually receive the award, however, is humbling. Graduate students are at the heart of my research program. Without my amazing students, my research program would not be nearly as successful. We are creating the scientists and leaders of tomorrow ,and my goal is to ensure they are well prepared for whatever path they follow when they leave Brock.”

    Pisaric says one of the most important aspects of being a mentor to his students is cultivating a thoughtful and supportive experience for his students in the same way he received while he was a student.

    The award is equally as meaningful to Fricker, whose advice to other mentoring graduate students is to “seek out opportunities and giver ‘er. Such mentorship is one of the deepest rewards of academic life.”

    As there are currently no graduate programs in Dramatic Arts, the opportunity for Fricker to supervise graduate students is small. Working with her current student in the master of Arts in Popular Culture has been educational and helped her stay on her own theoretical and critical game.

    In the category of master’s and PhD students, the recipients of the awards were Madelyn Law and Miriam Richards.

    Law, Associate Vice-Provost, Teaching and Learning and Associate Professor in the Faculty of Applied Health Sciences, was touched that her students thought highly enough of their experiences with her to nominate her for the award.

    “I don’t do things to win awards — I just always focus on improving the way I work with students based on listening and understanding their research and educational goals,” says Law. “Receiving this award has allowed me to see that this approach is appreciated and making a difference for these students lives, which is all I could ask for.”

    Richards, a Professor of Biological Sciences, said the award was a great boost during an uncertain time. She also comments that being a good mentor is as beneficial for her, as for her students.

    “Research and academia are challenging, fascinating and sometimes very difficult,” says Richards. “Research is a team activity and for science students, is basically an apprenticeship. It’s not really something you can do by yourself. Supervising grad students is one of the best things about my job.”

    When asked to provide advice and insight to others on effectively mentoring students, all winners felt similar in that there was no perfect recipe, but touted open communication, understanding and kindness.

    The full list of this year’s FGS Awards recipients are below.

    Marilyn Rose Graduate Leadership Award

    Rachel Yufei Luan

    Michael Plyley Graduate Mentorship Award

    Karen Fricker
    Michael Pisaric (Geography and Tourism Studies)
    Madelyn Law
    Miriam Richards

    Jack M. Miller Excellence in Research Awards (at least one recipient from each Faculty)

    Faculty of Applied Health Sciences

    Talia Ritondo, MA, Applied Health Sciences
    Nigel Kurgan, PhD, Applied Health Sciences

    Faculty of Education

    Monica Louie, MEd, Education
    Susan Docherty-Skippen, PhD, Education

    Goodman School of Business

    Ardalan Eyni, MSc, Management

    Faculty of Humanities

    Simone Mollard, MA, Classics
    Brett Robinson, PhD, Interdisciplinary Humanities

    Faculty of Mathematics and Science

    Scott Cocker, MSc, Earth Science
    Parisa Abbasi, PhD, Chemistry

    Faculty of Social Sciences

    Madeline Asaro, MA, Applied Disability Studies
    Megan Earle, PhD, Psychology

    STORY FROM THE BROCK NEWS

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  • Student researcher explores future of electric buses in Canada

    REPOSTED FROM THE BROCK NEWS
    FRIDAY, APRIL 26, 2019 | by 

    It’s a simple, logical way to cut down on air and noise pollution.

    Electric buses don’t emit carbon or use fossil fuels, are low cost to maintain and, by the silent way they operate, reduce noise pollution compared to conventional buses.

    But replacing current buses with electricity-powered ones is easier said than done, says master’s student Tasnuva Afreen.

    Afreen recently wrapped up an eight-month internship with the Canadian Urban Transit Research and Innovation Consortium (CUTRIC) to collect and interpret information related to transit authorities’ transition to electric buses.

    “Now we’re trying to connect the dots,” says Afreen, who is in Brock’s Sustainability Science and Society program. “We hope to bring out what Canadians think of electric buses and identify the main barriers to bringing electric buses to transit authorities’ fleets.”

    Afreen, Associate Professor of Geography and Tourism Studies Christopher Fullertonand CUTRIC created the internship through the not-for-profit national research organization Mitacs.

    Mitacs partners with academics, private industry and governments to conduct research and training programs related to industrial and social innovation. The organization funds a number of research projects at Brock University.

    During her internship, Afreen organized consultations with industry representatives, transit authorities, government officials and academic researchers.

    She and her CUTRIC colleagues asked participants a series of questions about transit authorities’ experiences and challenges of experimenting with electric buses and the knowledge they need to acquire and integrate hydrogen fuel cell vehicles into their fleets.

    Afreen also asked transit riders to share their opinions on and experiences with electric buses.

    She then transcribed the consultation sessions and analyzed the comments. Afreen also gathered information on how to test electric buses in nine municipalities that expressed interest in becoming demonstration trial sites.

    Although she and Fullerton are still analyzing the data, Afreen says her preliminary results show that there’s much interest in putting electric buses on the road.

    But there are a number of barriers to overcome, she says.

    “Municipalities have to redesign their infrastructure to provide electric lines so that buses can recharge very quickly,” says Afreen. “Also, the upfront expense is huge — a lot of transit agencies don’t have the money in their pocket to go for this.”

    Fullerton, Afreen’s supervisor, says the research she conducted will lay the groundwork for CUTRIC’s efforts to encourage the adoption of electric buses across Canada.

    “While it has already demonstrated clear environmental, social and economic benefits in other parts of the world, electric bus technology is still relatively new and adopting it represents a major funding commitment,” says Fullerton.

    “Public transit agencies and other stakeholders, such as the various levels of government that provide subsidies for transit infrastructure, want to make sure that the technology is reliable and that their money is well spent,” he says, adding that Afreen’s work helps identify stakeholders’ concerns and information needs.

    Afreen will share her Mitacs-supported internship experience at Brock’s Shift Conference Tuesday, April 30 and the Launch Forum Wednesday, May 1. Mitacs Director Rebecca Bourque and Office of Research Services staff will be join Afreen at Launch in the 10 to 11:30 a.m. session in the Cairns Atrium to explore how faculty member and graduate student teams can navigate Mitacs internship opportunities.

    “Mitacs internships offer graduate students a valuable experience working with industry or community organizations,” says Industry Liaison and Partnership Officer Iva Bruhova. “It is a chance to apply their research skills and gain employment-ready skills.”

    In addition to the Mitacs session, the Launch event offers two other sessions on how faculty and staff can support graduate students through designing individual development plans.

    For more information, contact ibruhova@brocku.ca or kperry@brocku.ca

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  • Geography graduate student wins best paper award

    The Department of Geography and Tourism Studies would like to congratulate our Master of Arts in Geography student, Aaron Nartey, on receiving a Faculty of Social Sciences Student Research Award for his proposed Major Research Paper project titled “Return Migration of Ghanaian Immigrants”.

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  • Student research recognized at 3MT final and Jack M. Miller award ceremony

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  • Film crew joins Crawford Lake research efforts

    When a group of researchers returned to Crawford Lake to continue the search for evidence of a possible new geological era, they came with a film crew to document the occasion.

    Toronto-based Mercury Films joined the team of scientists, led by Brock’s Department of Earth Sciences, shooting footage during last month’s trip to the Milton site to collect samples.

    Brock Professors Mike Pisaric and Francine McCarthy, Brock undergraduate student Brendan Llew-Willams and Carleton Professor Tim Patterson discussing the stratigraphy visible in sediments. (Photo courtesy of Conservation Halton)

    The team is studying the lake as a possible location to define a new geologic epoch called the Anthropocene. It is one of 10 sites being captured by Mercury Films.

    The production company’s most recent film,Anthropocene: The Human Epoch, premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival this past September and is part of a multimedia project that includes a major travelling museum exhibition of photographs, short films and augmented reality. It has been featured at the Art Gallery of Ontario and National Gallery of Canada, and will be on display in Bologna, Italy, in April.

    In addition to the field work, Mercury Films will visit Brock to obtain footage of the laboratory analysis component of this research effort. As part of a project, contracted through the German government, they will highlight each site’s candidacy for type section — a location where evidence of a time period shift can be seen — and cover all the steps leading to the formal proposal of the Anthropocene epoch.

    In order to receive this ‘golden spike’ designation, a proposal must be submitted to the Anthropocene Working Group (AWG) for evaluation. If the AWG approves of this proposal, it will then be evaluated by the International Subcommission on Quaternary Stratigraphy, chaired by Brock University Professor of Earth Sciences Martin Head.

    While the world is technically in the Holocene epoch, the group researching Crawford Lake, which also includes researchers from Carleton and McMaster universities as well as Conservation Halton, hopes their findings can convince fellow scientists around the globe to establish the start of the latest geological age.

    Researchers suggest the Anthropocene began around 1950. While it hasn’t been officially adopted as a geological epoch, Brock Professor of Earth Sciences Francine McCarthy and her team are attempting to build a case for Crawford Lake.

    Annually laminated freeze core recovered from the deep basin of Crawford Lake. (Photo courtesy of Conservation Halton)

    To get a better understanding of the history that exists within Crawford, annually laminated sediments called varves are recovered through freeze-coring — a process that involves dropping a dry ice and ethanol filled-metal sampler into the lake.

    “Over the next year or so, various types of analysis of the varves and the overlying water will be conducted, including radionuclide analysis to look for the ‘bomb spike’ and evidence of the Great Acceleration since the Second World War,” McCarthy said. “If a good radionuclide signature, including plutonium, is present in the sediments of Crawford Lake, the site will be a strong contender as the type section, with a ‘golden spike’ at around 1950.”

    Faculty of Math and Science Dean Ejaz Ahmed commended team members for their efforts.

    “I would like to send my congratulations to the team for their work on this matter,” he said. “They should be both proud of their research and excited by the attention it is receiving.”

    There is still plenty of work to be done before the Anthropocene is recognized as a geological era. Progress reports from 10 candidate sites will be presented in April at the upcoming European Geophysical Union Meeting in Vienna. Additionally, supporters from each site will travel to Berlin in May to discuss the next steps that need to be taken to establish the Anthropocene epoch.

    Nick de Pencier of Mercury Films Inc. filming Brock Professor Mike Pisaric and graduate student Joe Viscek as they prepare to core Crawford Lake. (Photo courtesy of Conservation Halton)

    Story reposted from The Brock News.

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