Albert Jiang, postdoctoral fellow in the School of Environment Enterprise and Development and Department of Systems Design Engineering, has won the prestigious Banting Postdoctoral Fellowship for his research helping small island states adapt to climate change.

The Banting Postdoctoral Fellowships program provides funding to the very best postdoctoral applicants, both nationally and internationally, who will positively contribute to the country’s economic, social and research-based growth. Across Canada, 70 researchers receive $70,000 for two years.

Jiang will work alongside Dr. Simron Singh and Dr. Kumaraswamy Ponnambalam to understand the hydrology related climate change effects small island states are facing, like the rise of sea levels or heavy precipitation. These findings aim to prepare states for the consequences of climate change and their corresponding social impacts.

“A very tangible example is when there's flooding, the income from tourism and fishing in these small island states is impacted,” says Jiang. “Once their income is cut off, they cannot sustain their household, so the children and partners will be affected.”

The research project, Hydrology and Socio-Metabolic Risk (Hydro-SMR) Analysis: Modelling Water Dynamics and Cascade Effects on Small Island States, combines traditional hydrology with a social impact risk analysis; a unique interdisplinary approach to help equip small island states with insights. It’s a combination which enticed Jiang to join the University of Waterloo.

“The strength in engineering research and the collaboration opportunity with the Faculty of Environment really drew my attention to Waterloo,” Jiang says. “Although most of my research is interdisciplinary, I have never formally worked in this way. So, this is the most interesting part.”

The new research project will feed into the RECOVER project led by Dr. Singh in the Faculty of Environment and Jiang’s research will contribute three key outputs. The first is building a comprehensive climate database for the small island states, which is a significant gap in science and policy in achieving the U.N.’s sustainable development goals. The second is evaluating dependencies between natural events to determine relationships between various hydrologic components using a series of modern modelling techniques, such as artificial intelligence. The last is revealing connections within and between hydrologic components and social practices, based on the Hydro-SMR analysis.

Jiang is the newest fellow of more than 350 world-class postdoctoral fellows at Waterloo who are transforming and disrupting the status quo. We are delighted to welcome him as he pursues his personal and professional goals, which will positively impact Canada’s future.

He joins Waterloo in September having completed his B.Eng, M.A.Sc, and Ph.D. at the University of Guelph. Coming from a family of teachers, he looks forward to sharing what he learns with the project partners, the community and, of course, students.

“I am motivated all the time by my students. I love the moment when I can share my knowledge with students and make them better,” he says.

This article was originally posted on the Faculty of Environment website.