Earth Day 2023: Highlighting Investments in Environmental Discovery, Talent, Operations and Beyond
Climate and ecological challenges are not static. They require regular monitoring, attention, and action to ensure solutions deliver meaningful results. That’s why, for nearly 60 years, Trent University has made environmental education, research, and innovation a priority within the institution, establishing a reputation as an institutional leader in realizing diverse, long-term, and collaborative solutions.
Trent’s environmental stewardship permeates many facets of campus life – from our world-class faculty researchers solving environmental problems, to our innovative programs to prepare students for environmental careers, to our on-campus conservation initiatives.
To mark Earth Day 2023, we are highlighting some of the key environmental activities over the past year involving Trent faculty, staff, and students that reflect our University’s commitment to shaping a healthy, resilient, and productive future.
A Foundation of Discovery
A driving force of Trent’s environmental leadership is our emphasis on research and contributing new knowledge to inform policies, management, and operations that create positive outcomes.
Community-based research projects led by director of the Trent School of the Environment Dr. Stephen Hill and his students are addressing local climate and sustainability challenges. Through one project, Prof. Hill and his students have studied low-carbon transit patterns in Peterborough for more than a decade to inform cycling and pedestrian usage and planning.
Internationally-recognized expert in aeolian science, Dr. Cheryl McKenna Neuman from the Trent School of Environment is embarking on a three-year international collaboration to study microplastics transport in atmospheric flows with funding from the National Science and Engineering Research Council (NSERC).
Five research projects at Trent received funding through NSERC’s Discover Grants program to study a range of topics, including how Southern Ontario hardwood forests will weather the future of climate change.
Through Trent’s leading Environmental and Life Sciences graduate program, Ph.D. candidate, Marie-Laurence Cossette published new research about the evolution of one of the smallest mammals on the planet: the shrew, research that is informing new genomics tools for aging and managing wild mammal populations.
Trent invested in sustainability research on campus by supporting developments at the Trent Experimental Farm including the installation of a new system of drainage tile to allow researchers to set up experiments linking water quality and soil health.
Supporting Environmental Expertise & Talent
Over the past year, the environmental expertise of Trent faculty, staff, and students has grown. The Trent School of Environment welcomed four new faculty, and added a new Canada Research Chair (CRC) in the Trent School of Environment (TSE), Dr. Andrew Tanentzap, who is the CRC in Climate Change and Northern Ecosystems.
Conservation Biology student, Samantha Hebert took a close look at species enrichment programs through a community-based research project with squirrel monkeys at Riverview Park and Zoo in Peterborough, acquiring skills in fieldwork, data analysis, and valuable career experience.
As part of their week-long capstone course, students from the Masters in Bioenvironmental Monitoring and Assessment (M.BEMA) developed skills in performing environmental impact assessments (EIA) after conducting EIAs on select areas of the Trent campus slated for future infrastructure projects.
Trent also partnered with Fleming to create four new college-to-university pathways that give students in the Peterborough region more opportunities to further their education and prepare for careers in the environmental sector.
Community Engagement and Partnering for Change
Trent University works with community and corporate partners to advance environmental education and put academic discoveries into action. This year, Trent formed a new research collaboration with Trouvé Victory Inc., an emerging electric vehicle manufacturing company, to advance clean technology innovations and their applications in sustainable transportation.
The newly appointed associate director of the Trent School of Environment, Dr. Cathy Eimers collaborated with Kawartha Conservation, and other water practitioners, to support the efforts of farmers to manage and maintain the health of their land and the surrounding watershed ecosystems.
Careerspace at Trent hosted a summit for students at five local area schools to cultivate and foster their relationship with the natural world and connect careers to climate action. The Summit featured presentations from guest speakers – including local Indigenous leaders – on topics such as biodiversity, invasive species management, forestry, wildlife research and methods of climate change mitigation.
Commitments/Contributions on Campus
Trent is always seeking to improve the sustainability of campus operations, from monitoring and supporting nature and wildlife that call our 1,400 acres home, to installing energy-efficient facilities, to improving waste management strategies. The University supported Trent’s land stewardship coordinator, Ali Giroux, and her efforts to install field cameras across Trent Lands. The cameras will record wildlife data to inform care plans for Trent’s 11 nature areas and the larger University Green Network (UGN), such as improving wildlife corridors and connecting green spaces on campus, as outlined in the Trent Lands Plan.
Through a partnership with Ameresco, Trent installed a Battery Energy Storage System (BESS) on campus that recharges overnight with electricity from the provincial energy grid, but at a time when the grid uses little to no natural gas energy. Trent can power approximately 80% of our electricity needs directly from the BESS, which helps reduce energy demand and greenhouse gas emissions in the province.
These stories are just a small sample of the larger effort by Trent University to participate and invest in climate action, which extends across sustainable infrastructure and operations, academia and education, research, finance, and more.
Posted on April 21, 2023