Kate Sherren

Landscapes - People - Global change

Category: Work with me (page 2 of 3)

MES Scholarship opportunity: How can we learn to love the renewable energy landscapes of the Anthropocene?

Wind turbines near Amherst, Nova Scotia, with train passing

Wind turbines near Amherst, Nova Scotia, with a train passing.

I have a new Legacy scholarship opportunity open for very high-GPA domestic students aiming for MES entry in September 2017.  Please get in touch if you think you might be a good fit, or to discuss other opportunities that close this fall such as Nova Scotia Graduate Scholarships (also open to international students) and SSHRC (domestic only).

Landscape impacts are oft-cited barriers to changes that are otherwise agreed to be necessary, such as those implied by a transition to renewable energy sources. Many examples exist, however, of deep attachment to man-made and otherwise purely functional landscape features such as lighthouses, factories, hydroelectric dam headponds, that in some cases extend far beyond their utility. The landscape of the Tantramar Marshes, the low-lying area that links New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, presents a unique opportunity to explore how people attach meaning and form attachments to large, utilitarian infrastructure. A natural experiment is occurring in the region, by the overlap of the 2014 dismantling of the Radio Canada International (RCI) shortwave transmission towers (constructed in 1944) and the construction of 15 2.1 MW wind turbines in Amherst in 2012 by the Sprott Power Corp. Prospective students might use interviews, archival data, social media and/or spatial analysis to:

  • Understand the process by which attachment is formed to man-made, functional landscape infrastructure, over time;
  • Understand what drives the acceptance of and attachment to functional landscape features by locals; or,
  • Build insights about how to facilitate functional landscape change without sacrificing sense of place.

Summer student opportunity on human/shorebird conflict

Fishermen and migratory birds compete for space along the Minas Basin (photo: Mark Elderkin)

Fishermen and migratory birds compete for space along the Minas Basin (photo: Mark Elderkin)

Bird Studies Canada currently has year 1 funding (NS Habitat Conservation Fund) for a three-year project, Space to Roost, understanding human-bird conflict in important roosting sites along the Minas Basin during shorebird migrations in late summer. This funding includes support to hire a Nova Scotia (6-months prior residency) student the summer of 2016. This will be our first year of a 3-year project. We will be conducting human-use audits at 3-4 roost sites to gather baseline information at sites during peak fall migration (July – August) to understand spatial and temporal use of recreational activities (e.g., fishermen, swimmers, dog walkers) and other human-induced threats. The summer student position will require someone with an interest in outreach who’s not shy about approaching people, initiating conversations with individuals at roost sites, and contacting user group representatives. Basically, this first field season will lay the ground work for developing and piloting conservation strategies to reduce human pressures at roost sites in year two. The role would best suit a student entering their last year of a conservation, recreation or environmental studies degree. Someone who is seeking to collect data for a final year Honours thesis would be ideal, and perhaps even someone interested in continuing on to a funded MES on the topic. Please contact me if you are interested.

Lab scholarship news

Great news in this scholarship season for my group: Incoming MES applicant Farzana Karim and Ruoqian Wang both won Masters Nova Scotia Graduate Scholarships (NSGS; $10K p.a. renewable x 2), also held by second-year MES Yan Chen. Incoming Interdisciplinary PhD applicant Kate Thompson won a PhD-level NSGS ($15K p.a. renewable x 4). Beyond that, first-year MES Taylor Cudney has won a federal SSHRC graduate scholarship to support her second year ($17.5K). This is all great news for these well-deserving recipients, and for lab finances. Research in coastal climate adaptation, agricultural land fragmentation, urban ecosystem services, and energy landscape research are all getting a welcome boost. Brava to all.

Mitacs Globalink internship opportunities for Summer 2016

Landrovers, researchers and penguins on a Falklands beach, January 2015 (photo: Carlos Andrade Amaya)

Landrovers, researchers and penguins on a Falklands beach, January 2015 (photo: Carlos Andrade Amaya)

A Canadian program called Mitacs Globalink brings high-achieving upper-year undergraduate students to Canada to work with researchers for 12 weeks. Eligible countries this year include Australia (a new addition), Brazil, China, France, India, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, and Vietnam. Applications are now open here for North American summer 2016 (closing Sept 24, 2015). It is a great program: it is currently funding Joy Wang to work in my lab monitoring tree cover under grazing via Google Earth Pro. For Summer 2016 I have submitted opportunities for two students on my new sustainable tourism landscapes and seascapes research work in the Falklands (see also here, if you are looking for a Masters project in this area). Broadly, one project is on spatial science, land cover and ecology, and the other related to ecotourism, visual sociology and social media. I am looking forward to interviewing this year’s crop of applicants later this fall. A summary of the above project (#7229) follows, but for more details, go to the Mitacs Globalink website.

The Falkland Islands are a remote British Overseas Territory east of Patagonia with a limited and contested land mass, unique ecosystem (including five species of penguins), and a historical reliance on renewable ecosystem goods and services to support its people, particularly grazing and fishing. Cruise ship tourism has become an increasingly important part of the local economy, and more recently, oil and gas exploration offshore has led to development for extraction. These four sectors interconnect in interesting and challenging ways and all have impacts on the local community and supporting ecosystems. I am using social and spatial methods to explore these landscape issues.

Two research projects within this larger domain are based on existing and secondary datasets and appropriate for involvement by short-term undergraduate research projects. The first is the use of existing GIS and aerial/satellite imagery going back 60 years to explore the impact on land cover of increasing numbers of tours to the King Penguin rookery at Volunteer Point. Poor transportation infrastructure outside of the main town of Stanley means that such tours are undertaken in Landrovers, sometimes tens of them at a time, which often fan out to avoid becoming bogged in peat.  Specifically, is repeated vehicle traffic increasing the amount of ponding in the peatlands being traversed, or otherwise changing vegetation cover? Can such patterns be linked to visitor numbers?

The second project will use social media to explore perceptions of the Falklands land and seascape as oil and gas exploration begins. Software can be used to extract rich observations in the form of text and photo from Twitter and Instagram, using either hashtags or geotags. These data can be analyzed to explore the visibility of oil and gas infrastructure, and understand perceived tradeoffs that this industry presents for the community, ecology and economy.

 

Sustainable tourism landscapes and seascapes in the Falkland Islands

SRES is launching a new strategic internal  scholarship scheme this fall that invites high quality MES applicants for potential September 2016 intake  to offer up around a set of departmental priority research areas. Interdisciplinary-minded students with high GPA and a passion for independent research are being invited to get in touch with professors about individual projects. Mine is related to my new work in the Falkland Islands. The description is below. If you have similar interests and meet the above description, please get in touch with me. The full list of projects is online.

The Falkland Islands are a British Overseas Territory east of Patagonia with a limited and contested land mass, unique ecosystem, and a historical reliance on fishing and grazing. Cruise ship tourism is a growing part of the local economy, however, and oil and gas exploration offshore has led to development for extraction. These four sectors interconnect in interesting and challenging ways and all have impacts on the local community and supporting ecosystems. The project will use social media to explore local and visitor perceptions of the Falklands land and seascape as oil and gas exploration begins. Software can be used to extract rich observations in the form of text and photo from Twitter and Instagram, using either hashtags or geotags. These data can be analyzed qualitatively to explore the visibility of oil and gas infrastructure, and understand perceived trade-offs that this industry presents for the community, ecology and economy.

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