Great that research design, ethics and funding has finally lined up to allow MES candidate Ellen Chappell to get her survey of residents underway in the Chignecto area of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia (around Sackville and Amherst). This multiple-reminder survey is the first out of my lab with the general public rather than farmers. This work is affiliated with the Energy Transitions in Canada SSHRC project led by John Parkins at the University of Alberta. This week the first full survey will be sent, and we cross our fingers for a healthy response rate.
Yan Chen defended her innovative SSHRC- and NSGS-funded MES thesis masterfully on Friday. She gleaned youth landscape values from a year’s worth of Instagram images from a 5-km radius of the actual and proposed headponds, respectively, of the Mactaquac and Site C dams. Being the first defense since a large new class of MES students started in the fall, the room was packed with supporters. Committee member John Parkins skyped in from the University of Alberta, and Faculty of Management colleague Jennifer Grek-Martin examined the thesis, which included wide-ranging discussions on landscape, sense of place, aesthetics, digitalism (our new religion as described by Yuval Harari), and virtual/augmented reality. It was everything you hope a defense can be: Yan spoke strongly in support of her work, and creatively about its potential implications and improvements. I look forward to getting her papers out in the literature, and building on it with a SSHRC Insight Grant that went in on Monday, led by colleague and expert in making Big Data matter, Mike Smit.
The short documentary from our October 2015 citizen jury on electrical futures in New Brunswick, led by Tom Beckley at UNB, is now available for viewing online. Another great product from the UNB Media Production team, who also did our Mactaquac Revisited houseboat tour video in 2013. The Energy Transitions team is looking forward to its next meeting at this year’s ISSRM in Houghton, Michigan, where I am co-convening a stream of 5 sessions on energy landscapes and transitions.
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.
As CTV put it, “it’s the generation decision of a generation.” This week and next, there are five public sessions being held about the Mactaquac decision, in the region of the headpond. Information stations are manned by NB Power officials and a small army of young people hired to engage with attendees. Some of this information provision is two-way, with butcher’s paper available for people to record their concerns or values. I am still waiting to hear how such data, and that collected through their online survey , will be analyzed, reported upon and considered in the final decision.