Environment professors win prestigious Early Research Award

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Today, Kathryn McGarry, MPP for Cambridge, and Daiene Vernile, MPP for Kitchener Centre, announced $2.3 million in funding for 21 University of Waterloo researchers, including Derek Robinson and John McLevey, both recipients of Early Researcher Awards.The Early Researcher Award (ERA) program helps promising and recently appointed researchers to build their research team of undergraduates, graduate students and postdoctoral fellows. The award consists of $150,000 over five years. 

Two men looking at drone equipment, farmland and trees in backgroundProfessor Derek Robinson from the Department of Geography and Environmental Management is leading a project that estimates the impacts of changes in climate, technology, and policy on farm livelihood, crop production, and ecosystem function across southern Ontario. Using the innovative combination of drones, survey, and ecological fieldwork, he will collect new kinds of data and analyze how to improve our understanding of how agricultural decisions are made and can change over time and across space. By synthesizing these data in a model, the research leverages simulated scenarios to evaluate potential farm responses and, in collaboration with farmers, identify land management strategies that can close the gap between potential and actual yields.

John McLeveyProfessor John McLevey from the Department of Knowledge Integration is using new computational methods to better understand the development of free/libre open source (FLOSS) software in massive inter-organizational collaboration networks. His lab group (NetLab) is studying the development of the Linux kernel, which powers railway and air traffic control systems, nuclear submarines and defense systems, the international Space Station, the large Hadron Collider, 80% of the world’s financial transactions, and 98% of the world’s supercomputers - and yet is developed in public by thousands of developers from hundreds of organizations. The research seeks to understand the formation of communities and collaborative relationships, despite inevitable organizational and political tensions, and how organizations and individual developers shape the diffusion of information and ideas.

In addition to the 11 Early Researcher Awards (ERA) announced for University of Waterloo researchers in today's press release, 10 others were granted Ontario Research Fund-Research Infrastructure (ORF-RI) awards. Amongst them, Geography and Environmental Management's Sarah Burch, who received $40,000 earlier this year for her Sustainability Policy Research on Urban Transformations (SPROUT) lab. 

“This announcement will support infrastructure and help early-career researchers build exceptional teams to continue to lead the advancement of transformational research,” said Feridun Hamdullahpur, president and vice-chancellor of Waterloo. “This commitment and investment in research at Waterloo contributes to new knowledge and opportunities, and supports a competitive economy for Ontario.”

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