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.
Articles tagged with: Student Research
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.
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!
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.”
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.”
STORY FROM THE TORONTO STAR | DEC 6, 2018
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.”
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.”
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
New research by Tourism and Environment alumna, Katrina Krievins (’12), was published last month in Ecological Restoration. Read more below.
Ecological restoration is a means of addressing the ongoing and pervasive degradation of ecological systems. Although the aim of ecological restoration is ecosystem recovery, efforts based on an oversimplified understanding of how complex adaptive systems behave often fail to produce intended outcomes. We explore how advancements made in understanding properties of complex adaptive systems, specifically social-ecological systems, may be incorporated into ecological restoration. We present a conceptual framework informed by tracing the evolution of perspectives in ecological restoration and synthesizing developments in social-ecological resilience. We then employ the framework in the context of freshwater systems to assess Trout Unlimited Canada’s stream rehabilitation training program and evaluate associated restoration initiatives in terms of social-ecological resilience. Findings from this case study indicate that the approach to restoration taught in the training program, along with the initiatives informed by the program, reflect principles for building resilience and were found to be positive. These findings provide encouraging evidence in support of a new approach to restoration informed by social-ecological resilience and initial confirmation of the usefulness of the framework. Valuable insights on the extent to which social-ecological resilience is currently reflected in restoration practices more broadly will come from future research exploring the application of the conceptual framework in a variety of restoration contexts and at a larger scale.
Krievins, K., Plummer, R., and Baird, J. (2018). Building resilience in ecological restoration processes: A social-ecological perspective. Ecological Restoration, 36(3): 195-207. DOI: 10.3368/er.36.3.195
This long weekend, three Geography and Tourism Studies students and Associate Professor, Dr. Ebru Ustundag, are off to the University of Montréal to participate in a feminist geography conference.
Co-organized by Dr. Ustundag, this two-day conference is hosted by the Canadian Women and Geography (CWAG) specialty group of the Canadian Association of Geographers (CAG) and the International Geographical Union (IGU) Commission on Gender and Geography.
The conference theme this year is Feminist Geographies in/during Troubled Times: Dialogues, Interventions and Praxis, a theme that fits well with the research interests of Geography and Tourism Studies students Jennica Giesbrecht, Katelyn Pierce, and Jennifer Williamson. All three will be presenting in sessions this Sunday, August 5.
Querying ‘the future of work’ 3: Rethinking Care and the future of work (Jennica Giesbrecht, Master of Arts in Geography Candidate; 1:30 – 3:00pm in room B-3245)
Bodies and Embodiments (Katelyn Pierce, Master of Arts in Geography Candidate; 10:45am – 12:15pm in room B-3255)
Spaces and Places 1: Cities (Jennifer Williamson, Bachelor of Arts in Geography Candidate; 1:30 – 3:00pm in room B-3255)
In addition to these presentations, Dr. Ustundag will be participating in and moderating three roundtable discussions:
- Geo-humanities, Intimate Narrations and Art Praxis 1: Conceptual Interventions (Roundtable participant; Sunday, 1:30 – 3:00pm in room B-3260)
- Geo-humanities, Intimate Narrations and Art Praxis 2: Dialogues on Art Praxis (Roundtable moderator; Sunday, 3:15 – 4:45pm in room B-3260)
- Dialogues in Feminist-Queer Geographies Panel (Roundtable organizer/moderator; Monday, 10:45am – 12:15pm in room B-3255)
The feminist geography conference precedes the 2018 International Geographical Union and Canadian Association of Geographers meetings, which will be held in Québec City from August 6-10.
For more information, please visit: https://feministgeography.org/.