Sustainability Opportunities Fair Poster Contest

Sustainability Opportunities Fair Poster Contest

By: Melanie Monk
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I was delighted to be asked to write a guest blog for SFU’s Sustainability Opportunities Week. As the communications manager in the Office of the Vice-President, Research, I am continually impressed by accounts of researchers across Faculties who are addressing sustainability issues at home and abroad. I am also inspired when I hear about members of the SFU community who are actively working to make positive changes in their homes, workplaces and communities. I hope Sustainability Opportunities Week has sparked some ideas about how you could integrate sustainability into your own work, study, or research.

In speaking with this year’s graduate student presenters at the Climate Change Research Poster Competition, I noticed a few commonalities among their stories. They had a passion for sustainability issues from an early age, and found a way to integrate this passion with their academic studies and research endeavours.

As undergraduates, they talked with professors about how they might develop their interests into a future academic career, and inquired about opportunities to engage in hands-on research. 

The importance of making connections is a theme that carries through to their graduate work, from finding rich data sources to exploring points of synergy with other researchers, and engaging with people outside the academic community who can put their research findings into action.

While they continue to refine their specific research focus, they also keep the bigger picture in mind—how their research could be used to make a fairly immediate beneficial impact. They mentioned the need for strong communicators who can bridge the gap between scientists and policymakers, partners and other user groups.

Several of the students noted how their relationship with the Pacific Institute for Climate Change (PICS) has helped them build these connections through, for example, the development of policy briefs and opportunities to present at PICS events. PICS is a network of researchers from BC and around the world, hosted and led by the University of Victoria in close collaboration with SFU, UBC, and UNBC. Through PICS, SFU faculty and students are involved in research under five major areas; visit the PICS at SFU website or contact Nastenka Calle, our PICS-SFU Campus Coordinator ( for more information.

To showcase the research of SFU’s graduate students, SFU Sustainability Network Partners (of which PICS is a member), SFU Volunteer Services and SFU Career Services co-hosted the poster competition at the Sustainability Opportunities Fair on January 30. Seven posters were presented on topics ranging from carbon offset and timber harvest revenue opportunities on BC’s Central Coast, to assessing groundwater and glacial changes, to supporting energy conservation in homes. For profiles of the students and links to their abstracts and posters, please visit the competition webpage.

I am honoured to announce that the winner of this competition is Shannon Holding, who will receive $1,000 to present her research at a national or international conference. The winner was selected by a jury comprised of Diana Allen, Professor in the Department of Earth Sciences and PICS Program Committee Member; Alex Clapp, Associate Professor in the Department of Geography; and Sean Markey, Associate Professor from the School of Resource and Environmental Management. Congratulations, Shannon!

Additional coverage of the poster competition and SFU’s sustainability-related research is available in my article on the Vice-President, Research Office website.

As this Sustainability Opportunities Week draws to a close, I encourage you to visit the SFU Sustainability Office website and learn more about the University’s commitment to sustainability and how you might get involved.


Melanie Monk is the Manager of Communications and Research Awards in the Office of the Vice-President, Research at SFU. She is an SFU alumna, longtime SFU staff member, and UniverCity resident. Melanie works with the Vice-President to raise the profile of SFU research and innovation. She is the Editor of Research Matters. Follow Melanie on Twitter @SFUResearch and visit for the latest news on SFU research and innovation

Posted on February 01, 2013