MESPOM Project Offerings
The following SENS faculty are willing to work with MESPOM students interested in projects listed.
Please contact the faculty directly for more information.
Dr. Barrett has the opportunity for a student to examine threshold concepts for a new ecological paradigm. This project involves thematic analysis of qualitative data to develop and validate a set of threshold concepts that are barriers to integrating Indigenous and Western worldviews in environmental problem-solving. Threshold concepts have been developed by Land and Meyer and identified as critical for accessing “new and previously inaccessible ways of thinking about something” (2006). Skills required: The student will need strong writing and organizational skills and the ability to analyze qualitative data using NVIVO data analysis software.
Professor, Department of Bioresource Policy, Business and Economics, College of Agriculture and Bioresources; Professor, SENS
Project: Understanding Tradeoffs in Water Allocation
This research project will focus on evaluating how people understand the value of these competing uses and the tradeoffs inherent in allocating water as a scarce resource. Specifically, the research project will carry out valuation experiments using the Social Sciences Research Lab at the University of Saskatchewan and a sample population of water users. This lab is set up to carry out computer based experiments social science experiments.
Project: Appropriateness of Market-Based Policy to Provide Environmental Quality in Agricultural Landscapes
The project will focus on developing a relatively comprehensive literature review of market-based policy instruments that have been used to address environmental concerns. An objective of this project will be to develop an organizing protocol based on the review to facilitate understanding and selection of appropriate market-based policy instrument to meet specific environmental objectives.
Associate Professor, School of Public Health; Associate professor, SENS
Project: Beyond Physical: Impacts of the Water Crisis in First Nations
Skills required: Strong writing and organizational skills and the ability to analyze qualitative data using NVIVO software.
Project: Water Consumption Choices and Perceptions of Water Related Health Risks Among First Nations in Saskatchewan
Skills required: Strong writing and organizational skills and ability to analyze quantitative data using SPSS software.
Assistant professor, Department of Poultry and Animal Science, College of Agriculture and Bioresources; Associate professor, SENS
This project is part of a larger study of wildlife-vehicle collisions in Saskatchewan. Collisionswith moose and deer result in several human deaths per year and cost millions of dollars indamage to vehicles. The project will use data from radio-collared wildlife as well as existingdata on locations of vehicles collisions to develop a predictive model of moose-vehicle and deer-vehicle collisionsand evaluate risk factors including habitat, crop patterns around highways, and road characteristics.Roles and responsibilities: conduct spatial analysis of the existing data using Geographic Information Systems.Write a summary report and contribute to a peer reviewed publication (student will be a co-author).
Skills required: Experience with ArcGIS spatial analysis software and good English reading and writing skills. Basic knowledge of statistics is also important.
|Assistant professor, Department of Geography and Planning, College of Arts and Science; Associate professor, SENS
Dr. Gunn has the opportunity for a student to perform a comparative effectiveness evaluation of sustainability assessment, as practiced in a Canadian, English, Western Australian or South African context. The project aim is to determine the relative procedural, substantive, transactive, normative, pluralistic and learning effectiveness of several recent sustainability assessments to better understand the challenges of advancing international practice in this area. The intent is to publish the results of the evaluation in an internationally peer-reviewed environmental assessment journal.Skills required: Excellent reading, writing, and oral communication skills. Social science background is desirable as well as familiarity with the fields of environmental impact assessment and regional planning.
Associate professor, SENS; Canada Research Chair in Predictive Aquatic Ecotoxicology
Project: Water quality assessment in the Saskatchewan River Basin using Effect Directed Analysis
Roles and responsibilities of the student (under supervision and after appropriate training by supervisor or other personnel): Collect (depending on weather) and prepare (e.g. extraction, filtration, fractionation) water samples for biological and chemical analysis. Conduct in vitro (cell lines and/or fish egg test) assays to identify specific biological activities of samples or their fractions. Statistical data evaluation. Write a summary report, and - if permitted by the data - contribute to writing a peer-reviewed publication (student will be listed as a co-author). The student will need to complete the following safety course at the University of Saskatchewan before any work can commence (courses are between 1/2 and 1 day long): Biosafety, Laboratory Safety.
Skills required: Very good English reading and writing skills. Natural science background with some laboratory (pipetting, etc.) experience. The student should be willing to participate in possible field excursions to collect samples. Basic knowledge in statistical evaluation of data sets is expected.Project: Assessment of the species specific sensitivity of native fish species to environmental contaminants
Human activities result in the discharge of many chemicals into northern Canadian aquatic ecosystems. In combination with current global challenges such as climate change, these pose not yet fully understood challenges to organisms and people living in these environments. To assess impacts on the aquatic ecosystems of these regions, it is crucial to understand effects on species that serve as indicators of the health of these systems, and what their sensitivity to stressors such as contaminants is. This project investigates the sensitivity of native fish species to environmental contaminants of concern (e.g. metals, dioxin-like compounds, endocrine disruptors), and compares it to that of standard laboratory model species. It aims to establish predictive models for the extrapolation of exposure risks to native species to enable better informed environmental risk assessments for these chemicals.
Roles and responsibilities of the student (under supervision and after appropriate training by supervisor or other personnel): Plan and conduct short-term exposure studies with early life-stages of fish. Routine water quality assessment and maintenance of exposure experiments. Bio-analytical investigations (determine growth, deformities and mortality of fish; collect tissues and analyze sub-lethal biological effects such as changes in gene expression, biochemical homeostasis). Statistical data evaluation. Write a summary report, and - if permitted by the data - contribute to writing a peer-reviewed publication (student will be listed as a co-author). The student will need to complete the following safety course at the U of S before any work can commence (courses are between 1/2 and 1 day long): Animal Ethics Training, Biosafety, Laboratory Safety.Skills required: Very good English reading and writing skills. Natural science (biology) background with some laboratory experience (pipetting, etc.). Experience with working with aquatic vertebrates will be beneficial but is not critical. Basic knowledge in statistical evaluation of data sets is expected.
Assistant Professor, School of Environment and Sustainability; Assistant Professor, Global Institute for Water Security; Assistant Professor, Department of Civil and Geological Engineering, College of Engineering
Hydrological processes determine how water is cycled through the environment, and determine the availability of water for plants, animals and humans. Models are useful tools to develop and test our understanding of how these processes work in diverse areas. However, developing reliable models is particularly challenging, largely because of large uncertainties associated with observations, and a lack of knowledge of the properties and processes that operate in the subsurface (soil and groundwater).
Dr. Ireson is conducting research which focuses on combining field observations with models to improve process understanding. There are opportunities to conduct research in the Prairies, Boreal Forest and Rocky Mountains of Canada, supervised by Dr. Ireson. Here, the hydrological processes are strongly dominated by the seasonal snowmelt event, which occurs sometime in April-May. Suitable candidates will have some background in hydrology/hydrogeology, and will ideally have excellent computational skills. They should also be willing to conduct field work in Western Canada.
Assistant Professor, School of Environment and Sustainability; Assistant Professor, Toxicology Centre
The student will synthesize data from >100 papers on a variety of chemicals. A background in aquatic ecology, chemistry, toxicology or risk assessment is required. The project will be based at the University of Saskatchewan under the supervision of Dr. Tim Jardine, and will involve collaboration with Dr. David Walters (US Environmental Protection Agency), Dr. Karen Kidd (University of New Brunswick) and Dr. Katrine Borga (Norwegian Institute for Water Research). The research will assist in the understanding of the behaviour of priority pollutants in the environment and contribute to risk assessments for legacy and emerging chemicals.
Associate Professor, SENS; Associate Professor, Toxicology Centre
Project: Development of a Bayesian Belief Network to Assess Fish Health
Project: Assessment of Different Pattern Recognition Techniques for the Apportionment of Pollution Sources
Project: Conservation status of threatened species Because the conservation of biodiversity occurs under time and resource constraints, it is necessary to prioritize species most deserving of attention. Priority-setting criteria make a substantial difference in species categorizing as compared to to solely considering extinction risk. Natural history collections are identified as a valuable source of information in applied conservation practice, particularly for species-rich taxa like vascular plants.
We use online herbarium information combined with a novel, straightforward priority-setting approach to screen large lists of rare plant species. Data are quantified to develop priority scores (for a given species) using three key criteria: provincial/regional responsibility in species survival; species’ local population characteristics; and the anthropogenic threats causing species to be rare. The use of a hierarchy of these criteria enables identification of species deserving attention and/or further study, while the method itself is deemed to be highly relevant to conservation managers and decision-makers due to its scale adaptability and fairly minimal resource requirements.
Project: Population demography of sensitive plant species
Population demography and reproductive biology of A. patens in response to deterioration of habitat conditions, management systems and environmental attributes are being studied. We examine how population size, degree of isolation, geographic region, habitat quality, and management regimes relate to demography and population viability to estimate population trends and extinction risk for different parts of species’ range. We also quantify how the demographic rates vary among individuals and populations of the study species; these can have not only a considerable effect on population dynamics, but can also generate evolutionary change.
Project: Biodiversity and conservation of endangered fescue prairie
We aim to explore and experimentally assess the link between habitat fragmentation, native plant species decline and increasing impact of invasive exotic species in fescue prairie. The long term objective of my research program is to contribute to the development of ecological theories predicting the impacts of global environmental change and anthropogenic disturbance on species diversity, structure and function of grassland communities in fragmented landscapes.
Project: Grassland restoration and management
|Professor, SENS; Director, Toxicology Centre
One of the biggest challenges in aquatic toxicology is to provide good risk assessments of contaminant mixtures. Pollutants are rarely present in the environment as single contaminants,but generally present along with a variety of other contaminants that can vary in concentration both spatially and temporally.
This project would evaluate the interactive toxicity of selected mixture combinations related to metal pollution from Canadian resource extraction companies. A separate project could look at the influence of water quality characteristics on metal speciation and toxicity of metal mixtures. Research would involve toxicity experiments with aquatic organisms (invertebrates or juvenile fish) and modeling of metal speciation, interaction, and bioavailability.
Associate Professor, SENS; Associate Professor, Global Institute for Water Security
Project: Water quality modelling of the Qu’Appelle River, Saskatchewan, Canada
Project: Modelling river ice processes along the Saskatchewan River
Project: Winter limnology study of selected reservoirs in Saskatchewan
Project: Modelling temperature and salinity stratification in reservoirs
Project: Analysing remote sensing data with ArcGIS to determine geomorphological changes or rivers
Associate Professor, Department of Educational Foundations, College of Education; Associate Professor, SENS; Director, Sustainability Education Research Institute
The Sustainability and Education Policy Network (SEPN) is a research-based partnership between academic research institutions and national and international organizations. SEPN is a large-scale research project on environmental sustainability education policy and practice in Canada. SEPN’s core focus is the policy-practice gap. SEPN examines existing, new, and innovative policies and practices that hold the most promise for enabling educational change for a more environmentally sustainable future. The research is organized into two subthemes: EC-12 (Subtheme A) and PSE(Subtheme B), and three iterative themes, (1) document analysis, (2) community engagement, and (3) knowledge mobilization.
SEPN is looking for students to work on Theme 1: Document Analysis, which involves examining existing policy to understand how current educational policy is engaging with environmental issues and examining existing sustainability policy discourse in education (including policy and assessment frameworks) across provincial Ministries of Education, Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada and a range of PSE institutions.
Project: Environmental Sustainability Education Policy in Canadian Aboriginal Education Systems
Project: Development of Historical Document Analysis Methodology and Methods
Skills Required: Very good English reading and writing skills; fluency in French is an asset. Excellent interpersonal and communication skills (written and verbal); ability to work productively, both individually and in groups; ability to work independently and efficiently; strong time management skills. Experience and familiarity with discourse analysis and critical policy analysis and familiarity with analyzing qualitative data using NVivo 10 is a major asset.
|Assistant professor, SENS; Assistant professor, Department of Biology, College of Arts and Science
Project: The impact of neonicotinoid insecticides on wetland invertebrates
Project: The role of pesticides in affecting grassland bird abundance
We are investigating the potential of Aroclor 1254, a commercial polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) mixture, as an endocrine disruptor in European starlings (Sturnus vulgaris). While numerous published studies have documented overt signs of PCB toxicity, such as tremors, paralysis and anorexia, this study focuses on the subtle effects following low dose exposure during early development on the endocrine system, namely the hypothalamic-pituitary-thyroid axis (HPT axis). The student will conduct behavioural experiments on captively dosed birds or analyze existing video data on a completed experiment to assess differences in activity patterns by dose group.
Project: Assessing Networking and Social Learning Strategies in Canadian Biosphere Reserves
The student in this project would be asked to prepare and conduct an evaluation of the extent to which learning and capacity building were achieved across the network. The student would be required to understand the concept of social learning and its application to this research, identify a framework for evaluation, develop appropriate questions, conduct interviews with project participants (within and beyond biosphere reserves), prepare a plain language report, and with others, prepare a paper that is suitable for publication. This project will contribute to the SSHRC project "Creating Networking and Social Learning Strategies in Canadian Biosphere Reserves."
Project: "Community" in Canadian model forests and community forests
The student will be asked to conduct a critical review of literature in "community forests" and "model forests" to better understand how they have been characterized and to determine what attributes of each model contribute to sustainable forest management. Students will then work with researchers to identify a set of interviews to help determine distinctions and commonalities, with a view to determining how lessons learned by studying across the models might better inform sustainable forest management. The results of the research will contribute to a collaborative article for publication. This project will contribute to the SSHRC-funded research project, "The role of communities in collaborative forest governance."
Project: A Framework for Gender, Adaptive Capacity and Forest Management in Canada
The student working on this project will be expected to review literature related to gender, adaptive capacity, and forest management to develop a framework for analysis. The student will then be responsible to co-conduct and analyze the results of a workshop with members of the Prince Albert Model Forest Board of Directors (with a questionnaire) to determine their awareness of gender issues for residents of forest-based communities. This study will form the baseline for an on-going study of gender, adaptive capacity and forest management. This project will contribute to a pilot project, "Linking gender, climate change adaptive capacity and forest-based communities in Canada."