WINDSOR, ON, June 6, 2011 /CNW/ - A new generation of UWindsor graduates
will be better prepared to find ways of preserving freshwater resources
for both humans and animals thanks to a $1.6 million grant from the
Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC).
More than 50 students will be trained over the next six years by a team
of about 30 scientists led by Melania Cristescu, an assistant professor
in the university's Great Lakes Institute for Environmental Research
(GLIER). The funding, from NSERC's Collaborative Research and Training
Experience (CREATE) program, will help prepare students to understand a
multitude of such environmental stressors as metal contaminants, the
decline of calcium, and invasive species that threaten our sources of
fresh water and the diverse range of organisms they support.
"The main goal is training," said Dr. Cristescu, who has already begun
recruiting students for the program. "Graduates will be able work in
positions where they can have a positive influence on the way we manage
our aquatic ecosystems."
Cristescu said Canada's environmental sector is facing serious labour
shortages and cited a 2008 labour market report by Environmental
Careers Organization which estimated 14,300 environmental specialists
will be needed in the next four years to meet federal government
commitments to clean up contaminated sites and secure clean water.
Graduates from the program will be qualified to work in such roles as
environmental consulting, human and ecological health risk assessment,
hazardous waste specialist and laboratory management.
The funding will allow Cristescu's team - which includes 10 North
American universities, five industrial and four governmental partners -
to train new environmental professionals through interdisciplinary
collaborations, national and international student exchanges,
internship placements and interactive workshops. These future
scientists will gain the skills to transform academic knowledge on the
effects of pollutants in aquatic environments into such concrete action
as assessing risks, implementing policies and designing recovery plans.
One of the main objectives of the research is to better understand the
impact of contaminants on aquatic crustaceans, certain species of which
Cristescu said are excellent "sentinels" for measuring the long-term
effects of metal toxicity on biological organisms.
Dr. Ranjana Bird, UWindsor's Vice-President, Research, said that as the
global population expands, freshwater resources must be managed wisely
to meet human needs and maintain sustainable aquatic ecosystems.
Guidelines to protect those resources are essential and require
training of graduates with interdisciplinary expertise to develop
effective management systems.
"Currently, the training of environmental professionals focuses on high
specialization within narrowly defined disciplines," she said.
"Training our students to study these problems from a variety of
perspectives will make them better suited for finding timely and
relevant solutions and to become future leaders in the field."
Founded in 1963, the University of Windsor has close to 16,000 full-time
and part-time students. The University of Windsor's mission is to
enable people to make a better world through education, scholarship,
research and engagement.
SOURCE University of Windsor
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