Postcard from Brazil: UBC PhD student travels to Southern Amazonia to find the water footprint of local farms

Following its colonization of large areas of natural vegetation, Brazil is one of the largest soybean producers on the planet. Given the intense seasonal rains that Southern Amazonia receives between October and May, farmers can grow soybean without any irrigation; however, this may change given that climatic conditions and atmospheric feedback from deforestation could decrease regional rainfall.  

Keeping an eye on climate change

Sina was beginning his program at the University of Northern BC’s Natural Resources and Environment Studies department when he was given the opportunity to apply his specialized knowledge of watershed management to an Accelerate project for lumber giant Canfor.

“We have a pulp mill in Prince George that draws water from the Nechako River,” says Mike Bradley, Director of Sustainability for Canfor Pulp. “That means the water level and its clarity are very important to us. We were concerned about how changes over time would affect our business.”

Communicating science

“I just knew that there was a better way,” he said. “There had to be a way to engage students using technology.”

Rowan created simulation and visualization tools and shared them with faculty at the university. Suitably impressed, several professors incorporated the new technology into the geology curriculum. Not one to be satisfied with the status quo, Rowan revamped the tools after graduation and put them online. His tools are now used at universities worldwide to help educate and engage budding geologists.

Stepping into industry

Where are they now? Former Accelerate intern spreads the word about Mitacs

During Juan’s postdoc, he undertook four Mitacs Accelerate internships with FORRx Consulting Inc., a Vancouver-based firm specializing in ecosystem modeling. Juan credits his Accelerate experience with giving him a significant professional jumpstart:

“The funding was key to developing my academic career, my relationships, and my understanding of the use and transfer of my research for real-life and business situations.”

Sowing the seeds of success

Adam is the brains behind the Eden Project, a unique social enterprise with a mission to offer local, organic produce at competitive prices.

“Global food systems are changing due to a variety of stressors, and food prices are climbing. We believe that urban agriculture and locally-grown food will play an important role in future food supplies as our societies adapt to these changes,” he explains.

A seed was planted

Reclaiming the future

Her friend and colleague, Amber Jarvinen, approached her about the possibility of using bacteria to clean up oil and chemical spills. Amber had founded a small environmental start-up and was looking for a partner with expertise in environmental biology.

The big launch

Postcard from Vietnam: Supporting sustainable fisheries with GIS

The temperature was 46 degrees for almost the entire first two weeks here, and I’m quite sure to have lost ten pounds in that time. Luckily, Hanoi is one of the great street food capitals of the world, where you can get a tasty bowl of Bún chả famous to the city, with freshly grilled meats in it for $1 or $2 and gain back any of that lost summer weight.

Postcard from Vietnam: UBC student investigates impact of fishing on wild seahorses

It’s been a whirlwind of new experiences since I arrived in Vietnam two months ago. I am here to study seahorses, both underwater and those that are caught by fishing boats. It’s the field portion of my MSc degree, which I am completing at the University of British Columbia Fisheries Centre, co-supervised by Drs. Amanda Vincent and Sarah Foster. My lab, Project Seahorse, conducts research all over the world, with a focus on Southeast Asia. My work is strengthening ties between Canada and Vietnam, and helps work towards greater conservation for seahorses.

Postcard from India: Graduate student studies how 400,000 rural fishers adapt to climate change

More than 400,000 fishers, belonging to specific fisher castes, customarily depend upon the lagoon for their livelihoods. For my research project, which was based on Khirisahi Island, I analysed how they perceive and adapt to environmental changes.

Sorbonne Universités: A conversation with a Mitacs Globalink Research Award recipient

Reposted with permission from Sorbonne Universités.

After getting his Master’s degree, Yang Liu left his native China in 2011 to attend the University of British Columbia, one of the best universities in Canada, where he is working on his thesis.

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