Silverhill Institute of Environmental Research and Conservation

Past Winners


Major Grant

Angela E Boag - University of British Columbia, Forestry

Topic: Feasibility of Building a Habitat Distribution Model (HDM) for High Human Impact Garry Oak Meadow Ecosystems Using High Resolution Geospatial Data

Minor Grant

Lilian Tran - University of Waterloo, Biology

Topic: Spatial, Temporal and Life History Variability of Mercury Concentration in the Fish Species Dolly Varden Char (Salvelinus malma) in Western Canadian Arctic

Xavier G Bougard McGill University, Renewable Resources

Topic: Determination of Landscape and Lake Characteristics that Drive Muskrat Gene Flow Across Arctic Wetlands


Major Grant

Enisa Zanacic - University of Regina, Environmental Systems Engineering

Topic: Evaluation of ozone assisted biofiltration water treatment plants for target contaminant removal.

Minor Grants

Anna McIndoe - York University, Environmental Studies

Topic: Distribution and Valuation of South Okanagan Grassland Ecosystem Services: A Planning Tool.

Geoffrey Kershaw Dalhousie University, School for Resource and Environmental Studies

Topic: Analyzing the role of dendrochronogical analysis in analyzing the impacts of Alberta Oil Sands mining production activities on the Clearwater River First Nation.

Katrina Nixon - Trent University, Environmental and Life Sciences

Topic: Analyzing the landscape and habitat variables of domestic sheep and coyotes to minimize conflict between coyotes and livestock producers.


Major Grant

Samantha Charlton - Simon Fraser University, Resource and Environmental Management

Topic: Challenges and Opportunities to use of Non-Timber Forest Resources in a Community Forest: Exploring First Nations and non-First Nations relationships and perspectives."

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There are many shortcomings of industrial forestry in B.C through social, economic and environmental lenses. One opportunity of the community forest tenure type is the potential to manage non-timber forest resources for economic, environmental or social benefit. There are numerous valuable NTFRs, and evidence from the past suggests that in cases where their values are publicly known, species exploitation and extirpation can occur. Another opportunity of the CF tenure is to develop better relationships and work more closely with First Nations. Using grounded theory, interviews and participant observation, this research: 1) begins to describe ethical modes of harvesting NTFRs based on traditional and local ecological knowledge (TEK/LEK), stewardship and protocols; 2) describes First Nations and non-First Nations perspectives on NTFRs and NTFR management and defines areas of common interest and potential collaboration; 3) determines factors of and challenges to success in managing NTFRs, through the theoretical framework of co-management; 4) describes NTFRs harvested and threatened NTFRs and explores constraints and opportunities to use of NTFRs both on a subsistence level or commercially in the case of the Wells Gray Community Forest and the Simpcw First Nation. The foundational conclusion are 1) Informal comanagement agreements can preceed or replace formal legal arrangements for management of NTFRs and 2) The case study demonstrates success in both comanagement outcome and process. In addition, procedural conclusions are 1) Awareness of NTFRs and an appreciation of their economic, social and cultural value needs to precede co-management, 2) Co-management or settlement of land claims in a region must precede any commercialization of NTFRs, and 3). Commercialization of medicine is not seen as ethical by FN so forest managers should not consider this avenue of economic development for the tenures that they manage.

Minor Grants

Elizabeth Thomas - University of British Columbia Integrated Studies in Land and Food Systems

Topic: Brownfield site relamation for urban farming.

Ehsan Mollasalehi - University of Calgary Mechanical Engineering

Topic: Small Wind Turbine Tower Vibration and Noise Emission.

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A major barrier to the acceptance of small wind turbines is that they are perceived to be noisy particularly when mounted on monopole towers rather than traditional guy-wired ones. This research discusses an aspect of noise propagation that has not been studied previously: vibration and noise emission of the tower and consists of three main steps; first, vibration measurements from 24 accelerometers placed on the10.2 m tower of a Skystream 2.4 kW wind turbine by which natural frequencies and corresponding deflection shapes were calculated. Second, the results from the survey were used to verify the predictions of a finite element model of the tower structure. And lastly, the verified model was placed in the air domains such that the structural vibration generates sound waves. Experiments showed that most of vibration energy is engaged in very low frequency band (=10Hz). It was found that wind itself can only excite first two bending modes. On the other hand, emitted noise from the tower at large distances can be neglected while close to the tower can reach to 30dB


Major Grant

Jennifer Drake - University of Guelph

Topic: Analysis of permeable pavements in cold climates as input to low impact development (i.e. improve infiltration, reduce runoff).

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Jennifer Drake is presently working on journal publications and hopefully further publications will be available later this year. She has also been appointed as an Assistant Professor at the University of Toronto.

Minor Grants

Andrew Medeiros - York University

Topic: Development of aquatic environment sampling protocols to be used by community residents in Nunavut.

Recent development in the catchments of several Arctic streams has heightened the need to assess these freshwater systems accurately. It was imperative to develop methods that would be both effective at judging ecological condition of tundra streams and suitable for use by local groups. An investigation of two streams influenced by urbanization in Iqaluit, Nunavut, demonstrated biological impairment in the benthic community at site locations downstream of urbanized areas. This impairment was characterized by a loss of diversity and a dramatic shift of the benthic community to one dominated by pollution-tolerant chironomids. This investigation also addressed taxonomic sufficiency, indicating that a more precise taxonomic identification of the dominant benthos (chironomids) to sub-family/tribe level indicated a significant shift towards specific pollution-tolerant taxa. This higher taxonomic resolution allows for the use of simple summary metrics to be effective for a community-based biomonitoring program for Arctic streams. This project was carried out in collaboration with the Nunavut Research Institute, and initiated under an NSERC Northern Research Internship. The resulting initial publication was written and published in the multi-disciplinary journal Arctic (Medeiros et al. 2011, Arctic 64:59-72) to address methodological issues behind conducting benthic biomonitoring in the Arctic, and the application of these results were geared towards use by local governments and community groups.

Olivia Puckrin - Memorial University of Newfoundland

Topic: Effectiveness of purposeful inbreeding to reduce the likelihood of outbreeding depression due to 'escaped embryos' of cultivated Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua).

Fish often escape from aquaculture operations raising concerns of interactions with wild individuals. Farmed fish grown outside their native range create the threat of outbreeding depression if they escape and interbreed with wild fish. Caged Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua) spawn, releasing millions of embryos into the environment which may live to reproduce. Due to selective breeding, few families are used in culture, potentially leading to inbreeding within cages. If inbreeding reduces survival, this could reduce the likelihood of outbreeding depression from maturing escaped cod mating with wild cod. Forced inbreeding could mitigate some effects of aquaculture on the environment. I aimed to determine if cod inbreed and if so, its affects on offspring. Spawned embryos from tanks of sister-brother-unrelated male trios underwent microsatellite analysis to determine parentage. Inbreeding occurred in all tanks. In artificially fertilized inbred and unrelated crosses, percent hatch was higher in non-inbred offspring, but inbreeding had no significant affect on deformities, larval size, or mortality.


Major Grant

Moiz Baig - University of Toronto

Topic: Ozonation of water for removal of pharmaceuticals.

Minor Grants

Mr. Joel Jameson - University of Winnipeg

Topic: Impact of wind turbines on migratory tree bats' mortality.

Mr. Keith Gourlay - Imperial College London, UK

Topic: Sustainable wood-to-ethanol biorefinery efficiency using Mountain Pine Beetle-infested wood biomass.

Mr. Adam Robertson - University of British Columbia

Topic: Use of pine beetle kill wood in construction of wood panelling systems.


Major Grant

Mr. Cedar Morton - Simon Fraser University (Resource and Environmental Management)

Topic: Evaluating Collaborative Planning: A case study of the Morice Land and Resource Management Planning process.

Download in PDF format.

Cedar's Masters research evaluated a unique model for participatory environmental decision-making in British Columbia, Canada. Collaborative planning is widely used in BC as a decision-making tool for land use management. Earlier planning processes in the province were successful overall, but they failed in one important respect adequate First Nations representation. To address this issue, the Morice Land and Resources Management Planning process used a two-tiered negotiation model. Like a one-tiered model, the two-tiered model engages stakeholders in face-to-face negotiations to develop a consensus plan. However, to finalize an agreement, recommendations from the first tier are then sent to a second tier of negotiations that includes only two parties First Nations and the provincial government. Cedar's study demonstrated a need to adjust the two-tier process to improve buy-in from non-aboriginal stakeholders while continuing to respect First Nations' constitutional rights. Despite this room for improvement, the two-tiered process is feasible and worthy of consideration for structuring collaborative planning in stakeholder environments where one or more participants have unique rights or interests that need to be accommodated in the process design.

Cedar is now a PhD candidate in the School of Resource and Environmental Management. You can read about his current research here.

Minor Grants

Mr. Fougere Augustin - Universite De Moncton Campus D'Edmunston (Forestry)

Topic: Organic fertilization of Sugarbushes: Effects of natural organic fertilizers on health and yield in sugar maple stands.

Mr. Vincent Gagnon - University of Montreal (Biology)

Topic: Treatment of fish farm pollution with an innovative system: the Sludge Dewatering Macrophyte Beds.


Major Grant

Julie Cecchetto - University of Calgary - Environmental Science

Topic: Integrating comprehensive ecological networks in regional planning along the urban-rural interface.

Minor Grants

Elisabeth Lefrancois - McGill University

Topic: Natural vegetation to improve soil quality in the Tar Sands.

Mohammed Issa - University of New Brunswick

Topic: Investigating the impact of sustainability of whole life cycle costs of buildings.

Andrea Hicks - Trent University

Topic: Impact of Cottagers on Lake Environments

Erin Luther - York University - Environmental Studies

Topic: Develop a wildlife hotline and training manual to assist with worker education in Ontario.


Major Grant

Koreen Millard - Acadia University - Biology

Topic: Habitat ranges for Salt Marsh vegetation.

Minor Grants

Michelle Kromplak - University of Calgary

Topic: Use of volunteers in monitoring programs.

Andrew Tanentzap - York University - Biology

Topic: Multiple forest stressors in Southern Ontario.

Severn Cullis-Suzuki - University of Victoria

Topic: TK and the harvesting of eelgrass.


Major Grant

Mêlanie Aubé - University of New Brunswick .

Topic: Forestry practices in the Miramichi River Watershed.