TSE Seminar Series
An informal way to meet colleagues, professors, and guest speakers
Learn about ongoing research and issues related to the environment
Free and open to all members of the Trent Community and the public. Please attend masked and prepared to social distance
If you are not a member of the TSE community and are interested in attending one of the events, please email Ian Power
Dr Karen Thompson, Assistant Professor and Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems Coordinator, presented the final 2021-2022 TSE Seminar
Rooted in Soil: From Microbes to Food Systems
Friday, April 1st, 3:00 pm in The Student Centre, Room 2.02
Dr Thompson completed her BSc in Enviro Sciences at UWO and her PhD in Land Resource Science at the University of Guelph, where she studied the effects of agricultural management on nitrogen-cycling soil microbial communities. After her PhD, she worked as a postdoc at the University of Alberta on NSERC-CRD funded projects examining the recovery of mixedgrass prairies after industrial disturbances. Dr Thompson joined the Trent School of Environment in December 2017 as assistant professor where she supervises students in her Agricultural Soil Health (ASH) lab. ASH members work on a variety of production-based and food-system research questions related to soil health and agri-food sustainability. Research interests include the interactions of crops and microbes, functional resilience and recovery of soil microbial communities to disturbance and climate change, and connecting microbial functioning with nutrient cycling and greenhouse gas emissions.
Paul Helm, PhD, Senior Research Scientist, Great Lakes; Ontario Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks, visited Trent on February 18th, 2022 to talk about emerging pollutant monitoring and research in the Great Lakes. Emerging contaminants is a "catch-all" term for contaminants we don't regulate, don't know about, or don't know much about, encompass a wide range of chemistries and now forms (e.g. microplastic particles, nanoparticles). For the past 18 years, Paul has led the design and implementation of monitoring and collaborative research studies on contaminants of emerging concern in the Great Lakes for the Environmental Monitoring & Reporting Branch of the Ontario Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks.
On Wednesday, October 13th, 2021, a small but mighty group of TSE students, faculty and staff met for the first in-person TSE Seminar since March 2020. Jenine McCutcheon, Assistant Professor from University of Waterloo, visited the Trent Symons Campus to talk to us about microbe-mineral-fluid interactions: small-scale processes with large-scale impacts.
The presentation encompassed research based in Australia (Great Barrier Reef, Queensland and Woodsreef Asbestos Mine, New South Wales) and south-western Greenland. Her research helps us understand natural environments, solve industrial challenges, and forecast complex global systems. In the context of climate science, Dr McCutcheon commented that, “everything in the environment is interconnected. Understanding this connectivity on a global scale will help us predict and mitigate the impacts of climate change.”
Trent offers many opportunities for gaining hands-on research experience. Dr McCutcheon encourages students interested in research to seek out opportunities in topics that excite them. This could be through field courses, an Honour's thesis, or a summer research position. These early experiences can be the starting point for a career in environmental science.
On Wednesday, November 10th, we met again for Dr Mark Gordon's lecture on atmospheric deposition of oil sands pollutants to the boreal forest. Between June 2017 and October 2021, a 100 ft tall, instrumented tower was installed in a jack pine forest north of Fort McMurray, Alberta. The primary goal of the study was to determine the deposition rate of aerosols, SO2, and ozone to the forest. We also investigated the exchange of CO2 in the boreal forest in close vicinity to oil sands mining and upgrading facilities and studied the dynamics of mixing within the forest canopy. This presentation will outline different methodologies to measure atmospheric deposition of trace gases and aerosols, including eddy-covariance, flux/ gradient relationships, and inverse modeling studies. Some preliminary results include size-resolved deposition velocities of aerosol particles, demonstration of canopy-decoupling, characterization of CO2 exchange, and estimation of SO2 and ozone deposition velocity using vertical gradients measured with passive samplers.
Dr Galen Halverson from the Dept. of Earth and Planetary Sciences, McGill University visited Trent on December 8th, 2021 to teach us what rocks can tell us about the early evolution of eukayotes. Molecular phylogenetics has generated vast amounts of genomic data and driven extraordinary advances in our understanding of the origination and early diversification of eukaryotic lineages. By contrast, the geological record yields few and more fragmentary data bearing on evolutionary relationships in deep time. Nevertheless, the Precambrian rock record can yield key insights, which when integrated with molecular approaches, have the potential to clarify the picture of the early evolution of complex life, from the appearance of the first eukaryotic common ancestor to the origin of animals.