Trent University Researcher Receives $205,000 NSERC Grant for Sugar-Maple Forest Research


Nutrient dynamics and long-term nitrogen sensitivity to be the focus of Dr. Shaun Watmough’s research

Monday, June 20, 2011, Peterborough

Announced on Friday, June 17, 2011, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) has awarded Trent University’s Dr. Shaun Watmough with a $205,000 Discovery Grant for his research project “Nutrient dynamics in sugar-maple forests and assessment of long-term sensitivity to nitrogen deposition”.

“Globally, humans have altered the nitrogen cycle to an alarming degree due to elevated emissions from fertilizer application and fossil fuels,” explained Professor Watmough, an associate professor in the Department of Environmental Resource Science at Trent.

According to Professor Watmough, the objective of the research is to undertake an integrated assessment of the impacts of current and predicted nitrogen deposition on hardwood forests, with a view to establishing appropriate critical nitrogen loads to protect ecosystems in southern Ontario.

In Canada, the highest nitrogen deposition occurs in southern Ontario. Potential impacts of on ecosystem components (lichens, herbs, trees) in the region are unknown, but current levels are within the range that has been shown to affect plant and lichen species in the UK and western USA.

This study will result in the training of six graduate students and at least four undergraduate students and will provide the sound scientific basis that is necessary to aid policy decisions with respect to future nitrogen emissions in Canada.

Associated with this grant, Prof. Watmough also received a $120,000 Discovery Accelerator Supplement. Of the 2,003 recipients, 123 were identified to receive a Discovery Accelerator Supplement in addition to their Discovery Grant. Valued at $120,000 over three years, the awards are given to top-ranked researchers judged by their peers to show strong potential for becoming international leaders.

“These programs are key tools for unleashing the creative power of our most innovative students and researchers,” said Dr. Suzanne Fortier, president of the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC). “The Discovery Grants Program has an outstanding international reputation because it has a very broad scope and offers researchers a lot of flexibility. The Discovery Grants Program supports ongoing programs of research in every scientific and engineering discipline.

NSERC is a federal agency which helps make Canada a country of discoverers and innovators for all Canadians. The agency supports some 30,000 post-secondary students and postdoctoral fellows in their advanced studies. NSERC promotes discovery by funding more than 12,000 university professors every year and fosters innovation by encouraging more than 1,500 Canadian companies to participate and invest in postsecondary research projects.

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For more information, please contact: Shaun Watmough, associate professor in Environmental and Resource Science, Trent University, 705-748-1011 ext. 7876,