Join us: School of the Environment Research Day – April 22  

April 14, 2021 by Chris Sasaki - A&S News

On April 22, coinciding with Earth Day, the Faculty of Arts & Science’s School of the Environment is holding its annual Research Day: a showcase of work being conducted by the school’s faculty, graduate students and — new this year — undergraduate students.  

The event will take place online and is free and open to the public. The schedule includes two keynote presentations as well as breakout rooms in which participants can listen to and interact with presenters. 

The School of the Environment is an interdisciplinary hub for education and scholarship on the environment and sustainability. Steve Easterbrook is director of the school and a professor in the Department of Computer Science

A closeup of a spotted salamander
One of the many, many spotted salamanders observed by the Njall Rollinson's students in Algonquin Park. Photo by Patrick Moldowan, a PhD Candidate​ in the Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology and the School of the Environment.

“Research Day is a longstanding tradition at the school,” he says. “It’s a great showcase for the diverse research being conducted here — particularly student research.

“In our graduate collaborative program, PhD and masters students from all sorts of disciplines — united by their desire to attack key environmental issues — come and do a research project. Research Day is their chance to showcase that work. 

“Plus, this year, we've expanded the event to include undergraduate research,” says Easterbrook. “We’ve always had undergraduate students work with our professors but we've never really had a way of showing off what they do — until this year.” 

Among the students showcasing their work will be Minsheng Hung, a second-year physics and immunology student and a member of Trinity College; and Angela Day, a PhD student in the Department of Geography & Planning

Hung examined the U of T’s Low Carbon Action Plan (LCAP) and the feasibility of augmenting the solar-generated energy outlined in the plan with battery energy storage systems. Because solar is an intermittent energy source and battery systems can store excess generated electricity and discharge it when needed, the systems have the potential to reduce the waste of surplus electricity generated when the sun is shining. 

Day studies the ways that resource extraction and environmental decision making intersect with gender and violence in the ancestral and unceded territories of the Mi’kmaq and Wolastoqey nations. She will describe how, for a proposed mining project in New Brunswick, gender was considered in the environmental assessment process, and how the environmental assessment process implicated health, well-being and settler-Indigenous relations. 

Attendees will also be able to hear about research conducted by faculty. 

Njall Rollinson is an assistant professor in the school and the Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology. He will kick off the day with a keynote talk describing his research into cold-blooded amphibians and reptiles — like salamanders and snapping turtles — found in Algonquin Park. The research shows that these creatures are not responding to climate change as expected.

And Jessica Green, an associate professor in the school and the Department of Political Science will end the day with a talk titled The Existential Politics of Climate Change. Green’s research focus is on the politics of decarbonization, transnational private regulation, and the interactions between public and private regulation. She is the author of Rethinking Private Authority: Agents and Entrepreneurs in Global Environmental Governance. 

Other research topics explored during the event reflect the diverse and interdisciplinary nature of the school, including:  

  • The animal-industrial complex and the politics of resistance; 
  • The accumulation of chemicals from the air in air-breathing organisms; 
  • The dynamics of deforestation in areas undergoing shifting — or slash-and-burn — cultivation; 
  • And a study of faith-based environmentalism delivered by faith leaders in Canada. 

“I’m looking forward to this year’s event very much,” says Easterbrook. “Even before I became the school’s director, I would attend Research Day. I always enjoyed the diverse and thought-provoking talks — and I always learned a lot.” 

Date & Time

Thursday April 22, 2021 
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