Unraveling northern ecosystems in Churchill

Dr. Nora Casson. ©UWinnipeg

Dr. Nora Casson. ©UWinnipeg

Understanding the relationships between water, landscape, and environmental stressors such as climate change, are fundamental to creating policies to protect our sensitive ecosystems. Dr. Nora Casson (Department of Geography) has been awarded the 2018 Chancellor’s Research Chair to investigate these relationships and find solutions to protect the environment.

“The impact of this project will be to improve our understanding of drivers of change in subarctic freshwater ecosystems,” explains Casson. “We will develop and disseminate research in a way which engages community members and sets up a longer term research program in the subarctic.”

Over her three-year term, Casson will be investigating impacts of climate change and other environmental pressures on subarctic freshwater ecosystems and the tundra in Churchill, Manitoba. Her research also includes a community engagement-driven approach to synthesize scientific knowledge around impacts of climate change on fresh water aquatic resources in the region.

“I am interested in doing work that both advances scientific understanding of how ecosystems function and is applicable to the people who live in the environment,” shared Casson. “Engaging community and sharing how climate change is impacting the fresh water basins is integral to the research.”

In collaboration with researchers at the Churchill Northern Studies Centre (CNSC), Casson will be using a combination of lab and field-based manipulations, to investigate the roles of landscape and sediment processes in mediating the nutrient response of subarctic aquatic ecosystems to climate change. 

This research project will also greatly benefit UWinnipeg students. Graduate and undergraduate students will have a chance to do research at the CNSC. This will allow further investigation into the pressures on the unique and important northern ecosystems and also offer exciting research opportunities.

Casson’s other research interests include hydrology, biogeochemistry, and ecosystem ecology. She and her students are engaged in collaborative projects with academic, governmental and non-governmental colleagues, both within Manitoba and across Canada and the United States. They use field, lab and synthesis-based approaches to answer questions about how human activities and environmental pressures influence water quality of streams and lakes.

“We are pleased to award Dr. Nora Casson with the 2018 Chancellor’s Research Chair,” said Dr. Manish Pandey, Acting Vice-President, Research and Innovation. “Her work contributes to the important work being done on climate change and its effect on ecosystem processes.  We wish her every continued success with her work.”

The former Chancellor’s Research Chairs include: Dr. Craig Willis, biology; Dr. Angela Failler, women’s and gender studies; Dr. Melanie Martin, physics; Dr. Bruno Silvestre, business and economics; Dr. Kevin Walby, criminal justice; Dr. Renée Douville, biology; and Dr. Delia Gavrus, history.

Naniece Ibrahim, Communications Officer, The University of Winnipeg
P: 204.988.7130, E: n.ibrahim@uwinnipeg.ca

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