Waterloo graduate student wins prestigious W.G. Weston award for Northern Research

Casey Remmer in front of a helicopterAs a Biology graduate student, Casey Remmer has an inherent passion for understanding and preserving our environment. That passion, coupled with a commitment to wetland preservation and outstanding scholarship, made her the perfect candidate for a W.G. Garfield Weston Award: a $15,000 accolade recognizing outstanding northern research in universities across Canada. 

Specializing iAerial shot of Peace-Athabasca Delta by Jacques Descloitresn Integrated Water Management, Casey spends her time studying the Peace-Athabasca Delta (PAD) - North America’s largest freshwater river delta. Located in northeast Alberta, the PAD stretches nearly 800,000 acres and holds great historical and cultural significance to the First Nations people of the area. 

Her research focuses on water and algae to better understand how climate change and upstream water use affects the shallow lakes and wetlands of the delta. 

Casey explained that the hundreds of shallow lakes across the PAD provide habitat for a variety of species, and help support the traditional lifestyles of of the First Nations. That said, the delta is threatened by multiple stressors, including dams, oil sands mining, and climate change. Casey’s involvement is part of a collaborative effort to develop a long-term monitoring program for the area, attempting to minimize the damage.

For Casey, conducting outstanding research meant that she had to spend a week out of every month in the field – sampling waterbodies with First Nations and Parks Canada staff, while simultaneously interacting with northern communities. 

As a single mother, pursuing in-field research hasn’t always been easy for Casey:

When I started at Waterloo my daughter was a newborn. I hadn't found childcare or a good place to live and I wasn’t sure how I was going to make it work. Over the last 3 years I have met a lot of supportive people, especially my supervisors Roland Hall and Brent Wolfe, and my daughter and I now have a great and comfortable life. This award is certainly a great help to my budget and lets me keep contributing to meaningful research.

Casey signs off with a shout out to her biggest supporters – 

Big thanks to my mum, dad and brother for all of their support. They watch my daughter while I'm in the field and make my research possible.

After completing her graduate degree, Casey plans to continue in academia, pursuing a PhD and furthering her career in research.

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