From Problems to Solutions

Environmental challenges can seem overwhelming. We’re constantly bombarded with news and information about air and water pollution, climate change, habitat and species loss, food shortages and other problems that threaten humanity. In the School of Environment, Resources and Sustainability (SERS), we understand the seriousness of these challenges – but we are focused on solutions that will allow us to navigate towards a sustainable future.

  1. Nov. 27, 2019The Globe & Mail recently highlighted climate innovation and two ENV PhD students

    "The Globe & Mail recently highlighted climate innovation and PhD candidates Lauren Smith(SERS) and Nicole Balliston (GEM). The pair founded PolyGoneTech to protect waters from microplastics. To read their story, please click here.

    Nicole works in peatlands in northern Ontario and Lauren work's with gender equity in water innovation funding (and how it can improve environmental outcomes) - both were passionate enough about this problem to create a start-up for a solution!

  2. Nov. 27, 2019Open House for Photography for Sustainability
    two people viewing poster presentations

    Wednesday, November 27, 11:30am to 1:30pm in the halls of the School of Environment, Resources and Sustainability (EV2)

  3. Nov. 27, 2019Congratulation to Davis Memorial Scholarship Winners

    Congratulation to SERS PhD Students, Ana Carolina Esteves Dias and Jessica Turecek on receiving the Davis Memorial Scholarship!  The scholarship is awarded annually to outstanding University of Waterloo Graduate students in the field of Ecology. 

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  1. Jan. 8, 2020SERS Stories: Every drop of this river is another good, good day.
    Mosaic Sturgeon filled with plastic scales

    Nothing about a river is straight, nor is its management straightforward.  I quickly learned from my exploratory research, evaluating monitoring indicators in the Muskoka River Watershed, that the supposedly simple task of generating a list of environmental indicators for monitoring watershed health was more about social equity, communication, organizational capacity and partnerships, than it was about managing the watershed – at least at that stage in the monitoring program’s development.  The question ‘what do we measure to understand watershed health’ quickly evolved into questions around whose definition of health was used, who decided what the priorities should be, why certain groups were not engaged, what the implications of exclusion might be, and how to rectify this exclusion.  Essentially, the monitoring indicators workshop I spent weeks designing turned into a philosophical discussion largely about the community, not the watershed.  The 14-year old watershed monitoring and reporting program was overhauled and redesigned to incorporate the interests and needs of the community. The new program (as of 2018) is one of the strongest examples of watershed reporting I have reviewed.

  2. Dec. 5, 2019SOIL: IT'S NOT DIRT
    Hands, soil and plant

    As kids we used dirt for play – ‘mud burgers’ anyone? – and parents demanded that we wipe our feet and wash our dirty hands when we came inside the house.  But soil is not dirty! In fact, soil contains an entire universe of organisms – one  gram of soil contains billions of bacteria, thousands of fungi and algae. In addition to the billions of organisms, soil is also a mixture of living and non-living materials. The non-living materials include rock particles that have weathered over thousands of years from the bedrock below, plant residues and dead microbes. Soil’s living component ranges from microscopic bacteria to earthworms and rhodents. All components that are living – or once living – are categorized as organic while those that never lived, like the minerals, are referred to as inorganic. Combined, soil’s organic and inorganic components form a complex network of interactions: organic materials decompose and become soil’s highly fertile humus layer. Soil humus is a form of highly recalcitrant carbon that is stored in the soil for more than 1000 years. In fact, a handful of soil means you are holding an entire living ecosystem in your hands with some of its components more than a millennia in age.

  3. Nov. 5, 2019“You Break It, We Fix It”
    Forest and Waterfall picture

    Environment and resource problems can seem hopeless at times, especially when governments abandon all pretense of good governance.  Before we stop off at the local fast food joint and order a final “Ennui Meal” with extra bathos, it might be best to stop and think of the solutions rather than just the problems.

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