Read about the LEAP program’s graduate student trainees and their research below.
Jeffrey began his academic journey with the goal of connecting the forms of knowledge from the experiences of himself, his family, and his mentors on the Land to scientific understandings of the Land. This continues to be his main motivation in his research as he explores more approaches to landscape science and knowledge communication to expand his skillset.
Jeffrey’s MSc research involves community mapping of surficial geology, permafrost, and ground ice in Fort Good Hope, NWT. His personal goal with this project is to produce maps which are relevant to the interests, concerns and perspectives of the community and which will be useful to the community into the future. Through his MSc and opportunities such as the NSERC CREATE LEAP program, Jeffrey hopes to continue to add to his knowledge and skills. Encountering more perspectives and gaining experience with more methods contributes to his ultimate goal of finding effective ways to harmonize the many ways of knowing and understanding landscapes in a way that can inform effective paths forward, especially in the face of biodiversity loss and climate change.
Léa is a master’s student in geography at the Université de Montréal and a member of PermafrostNet Theme 4 – Hazards and impacts associated with permafrost thaw. Before starting her master’s, she completed a B.Sc. in Environmental Geography also at the Université de Montréal. Her Honours research focused on the variability of CO2 fluxes along a permafrost thaw gradient on degraded thermokarst lake shores in the Arctic tundra. Her research now aims to better understand the effects of wildfires on soil nutrients in an Arctic tundra ecosystem. As with her Honours project, her master’s degree is taking place in the Inuvialuit Settlement Region (ISR), near Inuvik. Having had the opportunity to participate in various field campaigns in the North for the past two years, and in collaboration with our Inuvialuit partners, Léa has gained technical experience and knowledge of the issue of permafrost thawing. Her goal in participating in the LEAP program is to enrich her understanding of permafrost-related research fields, broaden her expertise and equip herself with the professional skills needed to better shape her master’s project and apply this knowledge to problem-solving in collaboration with Indigenous communities.
With a background in environmental sciences, Gabrielle’s interest in Northern landscapes involves the interactions between terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. While she has always been drawn to the North, her undergraduate thesis work at the University of Western Ontario provided an opportunity to bridge her interests in freshwater ecosystems and northern landscapes. In this project, she characterized dissolved organic matter from rivers in the Old Crow Flats, Yukon to better understand the land-water interactions influenced by permafrost thaw. This experience led Gabrielle to her current MSc research, supervised by Dr. Suzanne Tank at the University of Alberta. She os looking at the potential of mineral-organic interactions, driven by permafrost thaw, to affect the bioavailability of organic carbon across the western Canadian Arctic.
Over the past few years, Gabrielle has been fortunate to participate in several fieldwork campaigns in the Northwest Territories, spending time in Yellowknife, Norman Wells, Fort McPherson, Inuvik, and on the land. Following the completion of her MSc research, she hopes to continue to work in the North, particularly on biogeochemistry in northern freshwater ecosystems.
As a trainee in the NSERC CREATE LEAP program, Gabrielle’s goals are to strengthen her network of Northern colleagues and to further develop an interdisciplinary perspective on Northern issues.
Rachel is a PhD student at McGill University supervised by Dr. Jeffrey McKenzie and Dr. Stephanie Wright (Queen’s U) with a background in geological and water resource engineering. Her experience lies in fractured and porous hydrogeology and geochemical/isotopic tracers. The goal of her research is to use sustainable methodologies to better understand the impacts climate change is having on groundwater in traditionally permafrost characterized regions. Her current research is examining the effects of changing permafrost conditions on groundwater vulnerability in a northern community. It is Rachel’s hope that her research will contribute to a greater understanding of the impacts of climate change on northern groundwater resources and help increase northern communities’ preparedness and resilience to these changes. Rachel hold a BASc in Geological Engineering (2016 – 2021) at Queen’s University, Canada and a MASc in Water Resource Engineering (2021 – 2023) at University of Guelph, Canada. Upon the completion of her PhD, she hopes to continue in northern groundwater research in government, industry, or academia.
Michelle’s work focuses on determining how to safely navigate these changes through the safe disposal and remediation practices in the geoscientific industry (drilling waste sumps in discontinuous permafrost sin the Sahtu region, NT). In her professional careers, Michelle hopes to continue working collaboratively with Indigneous communities to address shared concerns regarding environmental changes occurring in our world, and the potential these changes have to alter ecosystems, creating hazards for humans, water and animals alike.
Testimonial about LEAP
“Joining the NSERC CREATE LEAP program allows me to gain knowledge from experienced researchers, northern partners and my fellow trainees surrounding the topics of permafrost and northern studies. This practical training provides me with the opportunities for the development of foundational knowledge about permafrost related issues and investigation techniques, such as the importance and applications of water sampling, climate modelling, and geomorphology to detect hazards.
By participating in the northern field school of this program, I will be able to directly apply these skills to address community concerns brought forward by the members of the Inuvialuit Settlement Region (ISR) surrounding permafrost thaw and detrimental environmental repercussions it has already caused and will bring in the following decades.”
Bruno’s research is centered at Trail Valley Creek Research Station, situated 50 km north of Inuvik in the Inuvialuit Settlement Region. He is interested in the linkage between surface processes and lower atmospheric dynamics, primarily cloud formation and the impact of wildfire smoke. Through his two years of involvement at Trail Valley Creek Research Station, Bruno has also been fortunate to work on projects with various organizations, notably the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry and the NASA-ABoVE initiative. These experiences significantly contributed to his comprehension of the extent and severity of permafrost thaw, as he was often required to visit and measure various permafrost features in the landscape. As it was Bruno’s first time in the North, this consisted of his initial first-hand exposure to the unique and difficult challenges northern communities are facing. Having learned the basics throughout his undergraduate degree in geography, Bruno joined the LEAP program with the aim of further developing his theoretical and technical knowledge of permafrost dynamics. Ultimately, Bruno’s goal is to better integrate permafrost-related disturbances into the discussion on land-atmosphere interactions in the western Canadian Arctic.
Logan is a PhD student at the University of Victoria, working under the guidance of Dr. Trevor Lantz in the Arctic Landscape Ecology Lab.
Logan’s research focuses on the ecological consequences of Arctic landscape change and permafrost thaw, focusing on its impact to wildlife habitat in the Western Canadian Arctic. His work will combine fieldwork, remote sensing, and spatial analysis to study how species from different taxa respond to changing Northern landscapes. One aspect of his work will investigate the habitat use and movement ecology of a moose population on the Yukon North Slope. Another aspect will investigate how ecological shifts such as treeline expansion, shrubification, and hydrologic changes influence the composition and dynamics of terrestrial bird communities. This includes a detailed examination of the impacts of widespread thermokarst development and other thaw-related landforms that restructure existing wildlife habitats. Logan has a Bachelor of Science (Hons.) and Master of Science in Ecology from the University of Alberta. For his MSc he delved into the enigmatic world of the Yellow Rail, contributing significantly to the understanding of this elusive bird and its populations in Alberta and the Northwest Territories. In his spare time he is almost always playing chess.