Water Institute seed grant recipients announced

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

The Water Institute is pleased to announce that four research teams have been awarded funding in its Spring 2020 seed grant competition. The Water Institute’s seed grant program was initiated in 2014 to stimulate interdisciplinary collaboration, international partnerships, and to encourage the development of research proposals that tackle increasingly complex global water issues.

This year’s seed grant projects include a diverse selection of inspiring and exciting initiatives:

Initiating the Canadian Tree-Talker Network

Primary Applicant: Richard PetroneGeography and Environmental Management.
Co-Applicants: Myroslava Khomik, Geography and Environmental Management, Julie Messier, Biology, Andrew Trant, School of Environment, Resources and Sustainability, Michael Pisaric, Brock University, Riccardo Valentini, University of Tuscia.

With the seed grant, the team will position Canada as a hub for North American participation in the Global Tree Talker (TT) Network which currently includes members from Austria, China, Germany, Italy, Russia, Serbia, Spain, and Switzerland. The goal of the Global TT Network is to utilize novel instrumentation to study communities of trees in different climatic environments and disturbance regimes to improve our understanding of forest ecosystems within the global hydrological cycle. The seed grant will be used to instrument a few test-pilot sites in Canada to test the applicability of the new instruments across Canada and recruit additional participants. In addition, workshops will be organized where potential Canadian and international network collaborators will develop a scientific strategy and external grant proposals.


Advanced datasets and methods for managing Ontario Conservation Authority watersheds

Primary Applicant: Bryan Tolson, Civil and Environmental Engineering.
Co-Applicants: Nandita Basu, Civil and Environmental Engineering/Earth and Environmental Sciences, Jason Thistlethwaite, School of Environment, Enterprise and Development, Daniel Henstra, Political Science, James Craig, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Juliane Mai, Civil and Environmental Engineering.

The seed grant will be used to promote collaboration between Water Institute researchers, Conservation Authorities and provincial officials interested in surface water management. Specifically, a workshop will be organized to showcase novel University of Waterloo datasets, models and research expertise available for informing the state‐of-art practice and joint proposals.


Building an interdisciplinary collaborative network for exploring global CH4 emission dynamics

Primary Applicant: Sherry Schiff, Earth and Environmental Sciences.
Co-Applicants: Tonya DelSontro, Earth and Environmental Sciences, Fereidoun Rezanezhad, Earth and Environmental Sciences, Laura Hug, Biology, Maria Strack, Geography and Environmental Management, Josh Neufeld, Biology, Monica Emelko, Civil and Environmental Engineering.

As the concentration of atmospheric methane (CH4) increases yearly, and the rate of its accumulation accelerates, heightened international attention on this potent greenhouse gas underlines the importance of coordinating research capacity at the University of Waterloo. Although there is a critical mass of environmental researchers at Waterloo who work on CH4 dynamics in aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems, most progress has thus far been within individual independent research programs. The seed grant will be used to organize a networking workshop with the intention of consolidating the collaborative expertise of Water Institute researchers and developing a Waterloo-led network on CH4 dynamics that will formulate strategies and identify opportunities for capturing growing national and international funding.


3 through 6 via 5: Water security and gender‐based violence in sub-Saharan Africa

Primary Applicant: Susan J. Elliott, Geography & Environmental Management.
Co-Applicants: Jennifer Liu, Anthropology, Jane Keupfer, Schlegel Chair in Spirituality & Aging.

While the world is focused on achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals by 2030, a large proportion of the world’s population remains without equitable access to safe water and adequate sanitation, with the greatest burdens related to women and girls. The seed grant will address a major gap in knowledge and policy, specifically the toll that gender-based violence plays in this water security issue.  Through international partnerships and workshops, the project will define and investigate gender-based violence through developing research protocols, data collection tools to be used in new funding proposals focused on empowering women in the context of water security.

Thank you to everyone who submitted a proposal to this year’s competition and join us in congratulating the winners!

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