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Trent University Receives Federal Grant to Train Next Generation of Environmental Professionals

Dr. Dennis Murray to lead NSERC Collaborative Research and Training Experience Program

Trent University Receives Federal Grant to Train Next Generation of Environmental Professionals
Trent University Receives Federal Grant to Train Next Generation of Environmental Professionals

Trent University will become a national leader in training the next generation of environmental professionals in Canada, with the help of a $1.65 million grant through the Collaborative Research and Training Experience (CREATE) program from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC).

Professor Murray, a Canada research chair in integrative wildlife conservation, bioinformatics, and ecological modelling, and professor at Trent University, will spearhead the program, which will support the training of highly-qualified graduate students and postdoctoral fellows from Canada and abroad. The theme of the grant and training program addresses the broad area of environmental and biological technologies. 

“The CREATE grant program is highly competitive, but the combination of Trent University’s outstanding reputation in conservation biology and environmental science, and the research strength of its CREATE team members and partnerships with other organizations, formed the basis of our successful grant application,” said Prof. Murray.

The CREATE program grant, which will span over six years, emphasizes student training by offering practical internships and technical skills in addition to standard research theses. This approach differs from more traditional graduate training where the emphasis is on basic research often without an explicit practical value. The program that will be offered through the CREATE grant will provide personnel with training that is designed specifically to prepare them for the job market immediately upon graduation. The intent is for the program ultimately to contribute directly to making Trent a world-leader in environmental sciences and technologies.

The project will include applied courses in biological and environmental sciences, workshops, internships, research projects, and an annual showcase and will highlight student accomplishments while also providing opportunities for further collaboration and networking. The program will be supported by online modules, interdisciplinary team teaching, and interactions with diverse professionals.

As an example of the type of novel training to be provided by this grant, Trent University researchers will be working closely with the Kawartha Land Trust, located in Peterborough, to develop a robust system for quantifying the environmental value of natural land parcels in the region, and developing rigorous standards for securing lands for conservation that could someday be applied provincially and even nationally.

Students in the program will not only learn how to measure changes in environmental quality and biodiversity, but also how to integrate policy in their work and how to effectively communicate their findings to a variety of stakeholders.

The first cohort of students is scheduled to enter the program in September 2016 and will receive training directly at Trent University as well as at partner institutions (University of Toronto, Queens University).

“CREATE students master the skills needed for both discovery research as well as innovation. The program is designed to provide them with a strong foundation of life skills, with an emphasis on team-building and communications as well as interdisciplinary research excellence, said Dr. B. Mario Pinto, president, NSERC. “Once they have completed their studies and research programs, they will be well placed to take on future challenges that make a real difference for the companies where they work and in the communities where they live.”

The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) is the primary funding agency supporting Canada’s science and engineering research community. The agency supports almost 30,000 postsecondary students and postdoctoral fellows in their advanced studies. NSERC promotes discovery by funding approximately 12,000 professors every year and works with over 3,000 Canadian companies that are participating and investing in postsecondary research projects.

Posted on Wednesday, May 20, 2015.

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