Vanier Scholarship winner works with Kugluktuk, Nunavut community to create a sustainable fish supply

Monday, July 27, 2020

Spencer Weinstein, PhD student in the Collaborative Water Program and Waterloo’s Department of Biology, has won the prestigious Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship for academic excellence, research potential, and leadership.

Supervised by Water Institute member and professor of Biology, Heidi Swanson, Weinstein’s research involves working with the community of Kugluktuk, Nunavut, to understand why the Arctic char fish population is rapidly declining and changing. Using a combination of molecular tools, ecology, and community knowledge, she is working to characterize and understand the current state of the community's fish populations.

Spencer Weinstein and Kugluktuk, Nunavut community member in fishing boat

“The overall question driving the overall project is how to best manage the local fishery in the face of a changing climate,” said Weinstein. “In order to be successful and develop the best possible strategies, we are working closely with the Kugluktuk Hunters and Trappers Organization on all aspects of the project as well as working with community members who work with us as field assistants.”

Weinstein’s research will contribute to developing a long-term plan to maintain a sustainable fish supply for the community. Additionally, her multidisciplinary approach will help inform the management of Arctic fisheries amidst the impacts of climate change.

spencer weinstein with community member

“Our role as scientists is to help support the long-term management of the fishery by identifying possible reasons for the decline of Arctic char, and helping to develop management strategies,” said Weinstein. “Since ultimately the community will decide how to implement the strategies and tools that are developed, it’s important to work alongside community members during each stage of research, recognizing traditional knowledge and ensuring management plans are culturally appropriate and sustainable.”

Vanier scholars will receive $50,000 over three years from the Natural Science and Research Council (NSERC). The Vanier Scholarships were developed by NSERC to attract and retain world-class doctoral students from around the world and to establish Canada as a global centre of excellence in research and higher learning. Vanier scholars are chosen based on their academic excellence, research potential, and leadership qualities.

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