Bangladesh – Water Salinity (Andrew Ireson and Howard Wheater)

Bangladesh is widely recognized to be one of the most climate vulnerable countries in the world, and climate change will exacerbate many of the current problems and natural hazards the country faces. Anticipated effects of climate change include increasingly frequent and severe tropical cyclones, heavier and more erratic rainfall, melting of the Himalayan glaciers which feed the rivers, and sea level rise. Shortage of safe drinking water is likely to become more pronounced especially in the coastal belt and in drought – prone areas. This will impose hardship on women and children, who are responsible for collecting drinking water for their families. Intrusion of sea water into large, cultivated areas of south west Bangladesh has been increasing, resulting in adverse effects which include decreased availability and productivity of agricultural land, increased food insecurity, and increased salinity in drinking water. The latter is giving rise to negative impacts on human health within a population of 20 million, one example of which being the extraordinarily high incidence of eclampsia, thought to be associated with salt intake, a major cause of maternal mortality in Bangladesh. Research is addressing health impacts, but there is an urgent need to understand the causes of salinity in drinking water sources, its potential future increases and to develop strategies to mitigate these effects, or find viable alternative water supplies.

Bangladesh – Arsenic in Water (Ingrid Pickering and Graham George)

In Bangladesh and parts of India, low levels of arsenic in the drinking water is causing what has been termed “the world’s worst mass poisoning.” At the lowest estimate, 57 million people are affected. The arsenic responsible is unavoidable—it occurs naturally in the wells the people rely upon for all their drinking and cooking needs.

Drs. Pickering and Graham George, U of S Canada Research Chairs in X-ray Absorption Spectroscopy, and their international collaborators used synchrotron light to uncover the mechanism: that is, a molecule containing one atom of arsenic bound to one atom of selenium forms in the body and is rapidly excreted, taking both elements with it.

The researchers realized that their findings could be significant for people in countries like Bangladesh. The afflicted areas are very low in dietary selenium, an essential element that, amongst other things, helps protect against cancer.

The researchers began to wonder: What if the Bangladeshis weren’t actually suffering from arsenic poisoning, but rather arsenic from the drinking water was eliminating the already scant selenium in the body, making the population highly selenium-deficient. Could the Bangladeshis actually be suffering from acute and chronic selenium deficiency, whose symptoms resemble that of arsenicosis?

China – Distinguished Visiting Professor (John Giesy)

Prof. Giesy is a Distinguished Visiting Professor at the School of Biological Sciences, University of Hong Kong and Department of Biology and Chemistry at City University of Hong Kong. He worked with colleagues, post docs and students in the planning of experiments, analysis of data and preparation of reports, manuscripts and proposals. He taught several lectures at both institutions. In addition to his normal activities he:

  • Attended the annual meeting of the Area of Excellent In Marine Pollution of which he is a co-investigator.
  • Participated in the annual board meeting as a member of the board of directors of the State Key Laboratory in Marine Pollution at City University.
  • City University has opened a branch research institution in Shenzhen called Human Health and Oceans (H2O). Prof. Giesy was an invited dignitary at the Grand Opening of the institute and dedication of the new building. He also presented a keynote address and chaired a session of the meeting held in association with the grand opening.

Prof. Giesy also attended the inaugural meeting and dedication of the new consortium of research universities in Hong Kong and Mainland China called SMART.

China – Professor at Nanjing University (John Giesy and Markus Hecker)

Prof Giesy is a Concurrent Professor at the State Key Laboratory of Pollution Control and Resource Reuse, School of the Environment at Nanjing University, Nanjing, People’s Republic of China. Prof. Giesy is a collaborator on a number of research projects and is a co-investigator on several funded projects with this team. This group is one of the top rated university programs in environmental science in China. Prof. Giesy is currently working to help develop water quality standards for China. He presented a series of lectures on ecotoxicology and environmental risk assessment. Prof. Giesy is the recipient of the "High Tier Foreign Expert Program” award from the Ministry of Education, China through Nanjing University for 2012-2013. This funding pays for his travel to China to work collaboratively with a number of Chinese universities and research institutions, primarily through the Chinese Academy of Science.

As part of ongoing research collaborations, Markus Hecker, School of Environment and Sustainability delivered a short course on Ecotoxicology and Risk Assessment at the Xiamen University and a summer course in Environmental Toxicology at the Nanjing University, China.

China – SCOPE-Zhongyu Environmental Sciences Life Achievements Award (John Giesy)

Prof. Giesy traveled to Taiyuan, China to participate as an invited delegate in the Annual Meeting of the Scientific Committee on Pollution of the Environment (SCOPE). He presented an invited, plenary keynote lecture entitled “Brominated Chemicals in the Environment” during the SCOPE-Zhongyu Environmental Forum 2012.

Prof. Giesy was the recipient of the SCOPE-Zhongyu Environmental Sciences Life Achievements Award. This award, presented by The Scientific Committee on Problems of the Environment (SCOPE) and the Zhongyu Environmental Technologies Corporation recognizes a scientist/s or expert/s whose significant contributions have moved the frontiers of environmental science and technological innovation and environmental engineering. It is awarded every two years to one or two recipients. An engraved sculpture and a cheque for US$15,000 accompany each award.

China – Teaching and Research Activities (John Giesy)

In 2012, Prof. Giesy toured China and visited Nanjing University, Xiamen University, Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing, Peking University and University of Hong Kong. During his tour, he spent time lecturing, collecting samples and meeting with colleagues to work on proposals and manuscripts. Also, he was joined by his colleagues Dr. Markus Hecker and Dr. Karsten Liber for a part of this tour.

China – Collaborations at TaiYuan, ShanXi Province (John Giesy and Karsten Liber)

Prof. Giesy and Prof. Karsten Liber has research collaborations with one of their former visiting scientists Prof. Suquing Li. They met with Provincial and university leaders to discuss local environmental issues, especially relative to coal mining, erosion and water quality and quantity. ShanXi Province is on the loess plateau region of north-eastern China. The area is arid, but during intense rainfall events, is subject significant soil erosion. Profs. Giesy and Liber were hosted by both ShanXi University and TianYuan Normal University. Prof. Giesy met with faculty and students to discuss potential joint research projects and helped develop a research project that will be used to secure funding that will support an ongoing cooperation between the University of Saskatchewan and ShanXi University.

Karsten Liber, director of the University of Saskatchewan's Toxicology Centre, has established and executed a research partnership with Shanxi University, Taiyuan, Shanxi, P.R. China to assist with the assessment of heavily contaminated river systems in Shanxi Province, and pursuing opportunities for graduate student exchanges between Shanxi University and the U of S. He also received the title of “Concurrent Professor” at Shanxi University at a ceremony in 2011.

China – Einstein Professor of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (John Giesy)

Professor Giesy is a professor at five universities and an Einstein Professor of the Chinese Academy of Sciences. He is headquartered in Hong Kong, but has made several trips to Mainland China to work with his colleagues, post-doctoral fellows and students.

China – Institute of Applied Ecology (Jill Johnstone)

Jill Johnstone, Department of Biology, has active research in collaborations in the area of boreal forest ecology in Northern China with Jian Yang, Scientist, Institute of Applied Ecology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Shenyang, China.

China - Nanjing Hydraulic Research Institute (Jeffrey McDonnell)

Jeffrey McDonnell is working in collaboration with Dr. Keith Beven, Lancaster University on a watershed tracer project at the Nanjing Hydraulic Research Institute in China. Together, they are working to dose a small manmade watershed just outside of Nanjing with a cocktail of tracers.

Saudi Arabia – Distinguished Visiting Professor, King Saud University (John Giesy and Markus Hecker)

In 2012 Prof. Giesy and Prof. Hecker spent two weeks in Saudi Arabia. They lectured at King Saud University where Prof. Giesy is a Distinguished Visiting Professor. They also worked on manuscripts and prepared proposals. Part of the trip involved collecting water samples from Wadi Hanifa for the determination of endocrine disrupting compounds. They traveled to Yanbu, a model city on the Red Sea coast, where they spent three days collecting sponges, and red and brown macro algae on the coastal coral reefs. The samples will be used in a cooperative study being conducted to determine novel brominated organic compounds. The newly discovered compounds will be tested for potential toxicity as well as potential beneficial uses such as anti-cancer drugs and antibiotics.

Saudi Arabia – Prince Abdulaziz International Prize for Water (Patricia Gober)

Patricia Gober, Johnson Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy is serving as the chair of the Israeli Council of Higher Education Geography Review Committee and also served on the Water Review Committee for the Prince Abdulaziz International Prize for Water.

South Korea – Korea University and Seoul National University (John Giesy)

Prof Giesy has research cooperators at Korea University and Seoul National University. During one of his visits, he presented a lecture on “Bottom-up and Top-down: Do the Risk Assessments Meet in the Middle” to the Biology Department, Korea University, Seoul Korea.

Singapore – National University Singapore (Tim Jardine)

Tim Jardine, School of Environment and Sustainability is collaborating with National University Singapore to better understand biological interactions in urban reservoirs. This project was recently awarded $2.6 million SGD ($2.1 million CAD) by the Singapore Public Utilities Board with the aim of improving biodiversity conservation and water quality management.