A University of Waterloo scientist has won the prestigious W. Garfield Weston Postdoctoral Fellowship in Northern Research for the second year in a row.

Igor Lehnherr, a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences focuses on the impact climate change is having on fresh water lakes and ponds in the Arctic.

“The award came at a time when I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to continue with my work in the north, where my true passion is,” said Lehnherr. “It is very important to study Arctic ecosystems right now, at time when they are rapidly changing”.

The research looks at how the lakes function and how they are being affected by global warming. His work helps scientists understand ecosystem productivity, which controls how much fish the lakes can support. The lake ecosystems are integral to the survival of Northern people who rely on fishing.

Lehnherr also examines how melting glaciers and the loss of ice cover on the lakes affect the water quality of lakes and ponds.

The $50,000 award is a result of a partnership between the Association of Canadian Universities for Northern Studies (ACUNS) and the W. Garfield Weston Foundation.

Sherry Schiff, a professor of in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, works closely with Lehnherr. Her experience working in the Arctic and Schiff’s willingness to explore environmental processes and new stable-isotope based techniques have been integral to the success of his northern research, says Lehnherr.

Lehnherr got his Ph.D. in Environmental Biology at the University of Alberta where he studied the cycling of mercury in Arctic aquatic ecosystems.

Growing up first in the mountains of Switzerland, and then in the Yukon in Northern Canada, Lehnherr has a natural appreciation for the beauty and importance of natural environments like those found in Canada’s Far North.