Articles tagged with: Student Research

  • Students help WWF-Canada with fresh approaches to sharing water research

    FROM THE BROCK NEWS | by 

    When students in Julia Baird’s Research Themes in Water Resources class recently undertook a project to collect and share current research about freshwater, they had three very different audiences to impress: Baird, a curious public and the World Wildlife Fund of Canada (WWF-Canada).

    It wasn’t the first time students in the fourth-year Geography and Tourism Studies course worked with WWF-Canada on such a project, thanks in part to the WWF-Canada—Brock Partnership for Freshwater Resilience led by Baird, which officially launched last June.

    But this time around, students had access to funding to support their work-integrated learning (WIL) through Co-operative Education and Work-Integrated Learning (CEWIL) Canada’s Innovation Hub (iHub), funded in part through the Government of Canada’s Innovative Work-Integrated Learning Initiative (IWIL).

    Students used a stipend to finance innovative projects that could help a target audience understand different issues related to freshwater resilience. The top projects also received a cash prize.

    “Students were given a list of potential questions they could answer, which WWF-Canada and I developed together,” explains Baird, an Associate Professor in Brock’s Department of Geography and Tourism Studies and the Environmental Sustainability Research Centre (ESRC) who also holds Canada Research Chair in Human Dimensions of Water Resources and Water Resilience. “They were then asked to choose one question and take on three tasks that, together, provided a range of knowledge mobilization products, from scholarly products such as an annotated bibliography of relevant literature to creative products intended for an audience of their choosing.”

    Baird co-developed the project with WWF-Canada to ensure that both the organization and the students reaped the maximum benefits from their work-integrated learning.

    During a Research Themes in Water Resources class, Lyndsay Bott created an infographic on salt marshes and mitigation measures that can be taken to protect them.

     

    “WWF-Canada accesses foundational and current research on specific issues of interest and students gain knowledge about water issues and skills in identifying relevant research and translating it for a partner and also for another audience of their choosing,” says Baird. “It’s a project that, for me, ticked a lot of boxes in terms of learning outcomes.”

    To keep everyone on the right track, students were encouraged to communicate with a key contact at WWF-Canada throughout the semester to ask questions and touch base.

    Emily Bowyer (BSc ’21), who majored in Biology and Geography before graduating from Brock last month, says that working directly with WWF-Canada had a strong impact on her project, a series of TikTok videos about Riparian zones and restorations.

    “My biggest takeaway from the experience was working with an organization like WWF-Canada and learning from their expertise,” says Bowyer. “It was a great opportunity to build lasting connections with professionals in my field as a student.”

    Lyndsay Bott (BSc ’21), who will start a Master of Sustainability degree at Brock in the fall, agrees.

    “It was great to see how far an organization such as WWF-Canada stretches and how passionate the staff we had as contacts were,” says Bott. “It was overall just great to be involved in the community and gain experience this way.”

    Bott’s project focused on the interactions between freshwater and coastal ecosystems and resulted in an infographic about strategies for dealing with freshwater pollutants and how they can affect coastal salt marshes.

    Baird says students exceeded her expectations with their work on the projects, whether they were building on existing strengths or taking the opportunity to try out something new, as well as the final results, which included social media pieces, high school lesson plans, short videos and ArcGIS StoryMaps.

    Carol Ng (BA ’21), who also graduated last month, decided to appeal to kids with a cartoon-based Instagram post on beavers and freshwater quality, featuring an original character, Billy the Beaver.

    “It was targeted to children, and it was just such an engaging series. Billy looks for a new home and finds one that is not quite right but by building a dam it benefits not only him but also some fish friends he meets,” says Baird. “It’s cute but also takes rather complex research results and shares them at an entirely appropriate level for children.”

    Anugraha Udas (BA ’21), who created an educational video on Riparian restoration project monitoring, says the assignment provided a unique way of showcasing skills outside of the typical academic environment.

    “Through my experience in drone videography and contemporary videography, I was able to create an educational video that everyone could understand and enjoy,” says Udas, who will start a master’s degree in spatial analysis at Ryerson University in the fall to pursue research interests that were crystallized in the recent Brock course. “This is something that a typical essay would not be able to recreate.”

    Cara Krezek, Brock’s Director of Co-op, Career and Experiential Education, as well as President of CEWIL Canada, says Brock has become known for these types of course experiences.

    “These innovative, engaging experiences allow students to bridge their learning to meaningful work that is useable by industry,” says Krezek. “CEWIL Canada has invested in innovative WIL projects across the country and this project met the criteria for a grant as it used technology, was innovative and funded quality student experiences.”

    In the end, the projects had a strong impact on both the partners at WWF-Canada and the students, who learned about issues and gained crucial experience in the field.

    “Based on the feedback from WWF-Canada, they identified some new, innovative ways to communicate their messaging around freshwater issues from the student projects,” says Baird. “I’m grateful that WWF-Canada has been interested in and sees the value of maintaining this course-based project as part of our partnership.”

    STORY FROM THE BROCK NEWS

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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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  • Department celebrates successes of 2018 with inaugural newsletter

    In January 2019, the Department of Geography and Tourism Studies published its inaugural annual newsletter highlighting departmental successes in 2018. The newsletter is available to download on our Departmental Publications page.

    Newsletter cover page. Brock campus with students

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  • Congratulations to Senanu Kutor on the successful completion of his MA in Geography MRP

    The Department of Geography and Tourism Studies would like to extend congratulations to Senanu Kutor and his committee for the successful defense of his Master of Arts in Geography Major Research Paper entitled ‘Wisdom and cross-cultural interaction: a geographical perspective’ on January 14, 2019.

    Senanu’s research was supervised by Dr. Dragos Simandan and committee member, Dr. Jeffrey Boggs.

    We wish Senanu all the best for his future endeavours!

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  • Geography student wins award for best graduate course paper

    The Department of Geography and Tourism Studies would like to congratulate our current MA Geography student, Jennica Giesbrecht, on being chosen as the 2018 Faculty of Social Sciences Best Graduate Course Paper award. Jennica’s paper, which was submitted to Dr. Michael Ripmeester for GEOG 5P40 (Historical Geographies of Culture  and Power), is titled “Reclaiming Death Care and Negotiations of Culture, Power, and Authenticity.”

    Congratulations Jennica!

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  • Geography student wins award for best graduate major research paper

    The Department of Geography and Tourism Studies would like to congratulate Emmanuel Akowuah on being chosen for the 2018 Faculty of Social Sciences Best Graduate Major Research Paper award. Emmanuel’s major research paper, which was supervised by Dr. Chris Fullerton, is titled “Farmers’ Access to Agricultural Information and its Impact on Smallholder Agriculture: A Case Study of the Asante Akim North Municipality, Ghana.”

    Congratulations Emmanuel!

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  • Geography student studies why some people live on the road

    STORY FROM THE TORONTO STAR | DEC 6, 2018

    Graduate student in the driver's seat of a van she bought for research

    Brock University graduate student Stephanie Murray studied movible communities in a van she bought on Kijiji. Photo by Stephanie Murray.

    When Stephanie Murray, a Geography master’s student at Brock University, set out on a two-month long journey across North America to study nomads and vanlife culture, she didn’t expect to find herself learning to surf, contributing to a documentary film, or being surrounded by a pack of angry stray dogs. But she quickly learned that life on the road is full of unexpected twists and turns.

    An avid traveller, Murray stumbled onto vanlife culture. She was fascinated by the people she met, and quickly realized that although nomads living in vans had been around for years, no one had studied them yet.

    “I knew there was a gap in academia that I could fill,” Murray says. “But if I wanted to truly study this culture, I needed to be able to live and move like they did.”

    “Lola” in the field during her two-month research journey across North America. Photo by Stephanie Murray.

    Using funding from Brock and a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) grant, she purchased a used van on Kijiji. Naming it Lola, she converted the vehicle into 66 square feet of living space. Then, over the summer of 2017, she drove to the west coast of the United States to attend “van gatherings,” events where people who live and travel in their vans get together to socialize and support one another. It’s a diverse group, says Murray. “One of the couples I spoke to worked remotely in IT, another couple ran a blog, and one of the other vanlifers was making money from a book he’d written. They’re a pretty talented bunch.”

    She was out to discover their motivation for giving up conventional lives and instead choosing a highly mobile lifestyle. “Our society is oriented towards people who stay in one place, and van nomads help to call that way of thinking into question.”

    “I have encountered so much kindness on the road,” Murray added. “People have welcomed me into their homes and helped me with my van, with no expectation of anything in return. And while the vanlifers I interviewed took up this lifestyle for a variety of reasons, they were united by a desire to choose their own path, rather than the one that’s handed down to them.”

    Murray was thankful that she received the full backing of the University during her time on the road.

    “Brock supported me fully from day one. And that support meant that I was able to do this research in the way it needed to be done — in person, on the road. I lived and moved alongside the people I was studying, and never once did I have to make any compromises that would have hurt the quality of my research. The University made sure I had the resources to do it right.”

    Master's student in the field during trip across north america. Standing in the foggy mountains.

    Research doesn’t have to happen in the lab. Photo by Stephanie Murray.

    Murray’s faculty supervisor and the Graduate Program Director of Geography at Brock,  Dr. David Butz, believed her research was novel and important, given today’s mobile society. Becoming a van nomad herself was pivotal.

    “This research strategy — and life choice — gives her research an unusually strong experiential and autobiographical component, which is rare in ‘mobilities’ research, and which adds to the distinctiveness and potential significance of her research,” says Butz. “We also felt Stephanie’s unusual research project, while logistically complicated, was worth supporting. We were confident about her capabilities based on her history with the University. At Brock, we encourage applications from good students and we’re willing to put funding behind that — and provide them with mentoring to apply for external funding.  Brock can offer lots of personalized attention to students.”

    Research doesn’t have to happen in a lab. There are interesting and exciting things going on around us everywhere, and at Brock University, unique postgraduate research projects in the community are encouraged.

    For her part, Murray is grateful for the support she received from Brock. “This research changed the course of my life, and it showed me that it’s possible to turn your passion into a ground-breaking research project,” she said. “If you have a clear vision of what you want to discover, Brock can help you on that pursuit.”

    Interested in studying in the Master of Arts in Geography program at Brock? Apply by February 15 to start next September.


    Story reposted from The Toronto Star

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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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  • Brock student wins two awards in national science photo competition

    Dana Harris calls Nov. 9 her “special day.”

    It was on that day last week that the Master of Sustainability student became a first time aunt, and also the day she was told, in the strictest of confidence, that she had captured two top prizes in a national science research photo competition.

    Harris had to keep the secret of her achievement under wraps until Nov. 14, when the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) announced the winners of its Canada-wide Science Exposed competition.

    The competition showcases images taken during scientific research being conducted in all fields by faculty and student researchers in post-secondary institutions and researchers in public and private research centres.

    Dana Harris photo submission

    Dana Harris’ submission to the NSERC Science Exposed competition
    featuring cells of the jack pine tree.

    Harris received the People’s Choice Award and a Jury Prize for her photo, “Exploring the Jack Pine Tight Knit Family Tree.”

    “It’s a super huge honour to have people sharing my photo, voting on it and just enjoying it,” says Harris. “And, to get that mention from the NSERC jury members was really gratifying.”

    Diane Dupont, Dean of Graduate Studies, said the Faculty is “so proud of Dana and her success in the NSERC Science Exposed photography contest.”

    “To win the People’s Choice Award is an outstanding achievement,” Dupont said. “This award is a testament to the cutting-edge research she is pursuing involving the globally-relevant topic of climate change.”

    Harris’ photo shows phases of developing xylem cells, stained in different colours, that are found in a wood sample cored from the outermost part of a jack pine tree in the Northwest Territories, where she is from.

    The image, shot from a microscope, shows the jack pine tree’s phloem, cambial and xylem cells (blue dye) and mature xylem cells (red dye) in a thin slice of the wood. It is one of a series of images taken weekly over the past year to track the growth of the jack pine tree’s various cells.

    “This type of information is useful for researchers who create climate reconstructions using tree rings as a source of historical climate data,” explains Harris.

    She thanked her supervisor, Professor of Geography and Tourism Studies Michael Pisaric, and her fellow student researchers in Brock’s Water and Environment Laboratory (WEL) for their support.

    “Dana’s research is helping to understand how important tree species in the boreal forest are affected by climate change,” says Pisaric. “Her research also helps to inform larger questions concerning carbon uptake by the boreal forest.

    “Northern regions of Canada are being impacted by changing climatic conditions, including warmer temperatures, changing precipitation regimes and altered frequency and intensity of forest fires and other disturbance agents.”

    The WEL lab is co-directed by Pisaric and Associate Professor of Geography and Tourism Studies Kevin Turner, with the aim to explore how terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems in Canada’s North are changing in response to climatic and environmental change.

    Harris says she is happy that research on climate change and environmental conditions in the North were acknowledged with awards in the competition.

    Earlier this year, the photos of 20 researchers from across Canada, including Harris’s entry, were shortlisted and posted on NSERC’s website. People viewing the 20 photos were given the chance to vote for their favourite image. A panel of judges also chose three images that won jury prizes.

    Harris was also a competitor in NSERC’s Science, Action! research video contest,making the first cut of the three-round competition with her video “Jack Pine Growth, NT.”

    NSERC is Canada’s federal funding agency for university-based research, supporting faculty and students through a number of awards. In the most recent round of funding, 18 faculty researchers and nine students received a total of $3.2 million.

    Story reposted from The Brock News.

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