Welcoming M.BEMA Graduates for Convocation at Trent - June 2022
Congratulations to all the BEMA Program Graduates from 2021 and previous years! On June 8th, we caught up with some of our 2021 & 2020 M.BEMA graduates, as Trent invited graduating Master's & PhD students from the past 3 years back to the campus for in-person convocation! The sun was shining & it was a grand celebration for the 10 M.BEMA graduates that made the trek to celebrate with their families and friends. Official Trent photos from that day can be found here.
Congratulations to this year's recipients of the BEMA Program's inaugural student achievement awards! Three students in the Masters in Bioenvironmental Monitoring and Assessment (M.BEMA) program were recognized in August 2021 for their high achievement in the program, following a year of intensive coursework and successful environmental sector placements during the summer months. Students persevered through ongoing pandemic uncertainty and lockdowns that complicated the placement process, meaning that students had to make the most of entirely remote placements in some cases.
Established in 2018, the BEMA program aims to train the next generation of environmental professionals in the rigorous survey and evaluation of our natural world.
2021 Award Recipients:
Outstanding Student Award - Kim Teager
Kim demonstrated excellent achievement throughout the degree, including high academic excellence in her coursework. She gained valuable placement experience with Parks Canada, working as a Resource Management Officer in the Lake Superior National Marine Conservation Area, where she honed important field skills and worked on a colonial birds report using historical nesting site data.
Leadership Excellence Award - Autumn Jordan
Autumn maintained high academic excellence while demonstrating leadership by serving as BEMA representative with the Trent Graduate Studies Association. She completed her placement as a Conservation Coordinator with Nature Canada and was able to write several articles including one on swallow conservation.
Placement Excellence Award - Sarah Thompson
Sarah maintained high academic excellence while demonstrating outstanding achievement and perseverance in her professional placement. She worked with Nottawasaga Valley Conservation Authority (NVCA), where she was able to contribute to several projects including updating the natural land cover and water feature GIS layers, stream health analysis, and the Conservation Ontario Climate Change Vulnerability Tool for NVCA’s watersheds.
Some of our 2019/20 students were featured in an article written by the Trent Communications folks in August....
Virtual Placements Bring Career Experience to Trent Graduate Students
Key industry partnerships provide unique opportunities for Master of Bioenvironmental Monitoring and Assessment students
Published Friday, August 28, 2020
Earlier this summer, Master of Bioenvironmental Monitoring and Assessment (M.BEMA) students began 13 career-boosting virtual placements, working alongside Parks Canada, the Nature Conservancy of Canada, the City of Oshawa, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, Canadian Nuclear Laboratories, the City of Pickering, and several on-campus research labs at Trent.
Speaking about the move from in-person to virtual placements in response to restrictions caused by COVID-19, Jennifer Bull, BEMA placement coordinator says: “We went to our partners to identify projects that would be suitable, then we matched students’ skill sets with organizations that needed those skills.”
Partnerships are the path to success
In a typical year, BEMA Master’s students would be immersed in practical placements working in the field, using newly acquired skills and knowledge. In new and dynamic ways, these important hands-on experiences continued this spring online as the COVID-19 pandemic imposed restrictions on in-person activities.
“At first, we found that organizations who had offered placements could not pivot to remote placements,” explains Ms. Bull, “so we had to shift our focus to explaining how students could provide valuable contributions to new partners within a virtual setting. Through these partnerships, we were able to successfully provide virtual placements for every student in the program.”
Experiential learning redefined
Hands-on, experiential learning is a cornerstone of the student experience at Trent University. Through her remote placement, M.BEMA candidate Lauren Efford worked with Ontario’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) in Peterborough to adapt a statistical model used to predict the potential impact of new invasive aquatic species, to terrestrial plants. “This has allowed us to feed information into the model, and it provides an estimate of the likelihood of an invasion and the impact a species could have in Ontario,” says Ms. Efford.
The pandemic posed a unique challenge for Mohamed Moustafa who was looking to the M.BEMA program to change his career focus to the environmental field after arriving in Canada from Egypt in June 2019. Partnered with Dr. Paul Frost in the Frost Laboratory at Trent University, Mr. Moustafa is gaining valuable experience while working on a long-term monitoring report of water quality in Kawartha area lakes. "I have come to understand lake stewardship association interests and concerns," says Mr. Moustafa. “It has been personally rewarding to work on a benchmark report that will identify potential changes in water quality in the future."
The placements have proven to be extremely valuable to the industry partners as well. After identifying a need for more detailed and up-to-date maps of conservation areas, The Nature Conservancy of Canada partnered with Trent and M.BEMA candidate Whitney Goodwin to take on the project. “I have been updating the maps of natural areas with current data, as well as performing analysis on specific areas – how much of each habitat type there is in a conservation area, and whether these habitats overlap,” says Ms. Goodwin.
Unique challenges foster opportunities
As a large percentage of the population has pivoted to working from home, student researchers were able to continue to perform impactful contributions to the business community partners as a result of virtual placements.
“There is no doubt that COVID-19 threw us a curveball in terms of summer placements this year,” says Dr. Dennis Murray, director of the BEMA Graduate Program. “I am really happy that we could find strong substitute opportunities to allow students to grow their skillset and place themselves on a bright career path.”
Congratulations to our 1st cohort of M.BEMA graduates!
This photo capped off an intense but rewarding Capstone week, where students participated in professional workshops & presented their findings on potential environmental impacts of a hypothetical proposed development, where they designed the study, collected & analyzed data, and made recommendations for mitigating impacts.
We're excited to have our 1st cohort of M.BEMA students starting in September 2018!
We're equally excited to work with our placement partners in May 2019 who are expected to be: