Grad Research Day

December 05, 2014

Geography Graduate Association hosts the Grad Research Day on December 5th in RCB 6152. Alongside all 2nd year Masters, this year will also feature presentations from several PhD students. Talks will begin at 10 am, and will run to around 4, with a full schedule to follow.

Refreshments, including tea/coffee breaks and pizza lunch, will be provided throughout the day, so please RSVP to Marion by Tuesday Dec 2 so we can plan catering accordingly. Please send an email to Jonathan Cripps for any question.

  • Date: December 5th, 2014
  • Time: 10am - 4pm
  • Room: RCB 6152

Here's the brief description for each presentation.

Philip Camp, MSc; Meg Krawchuk

Determining the human and biophysical drivers of wildfire initiations in British Columbia’s ecoregions.

Wildfires in British Columbia (BC) occur as a function of human and biophysical influences, however determining the drivers of wildfire initiations have largely been neglected when conducting research on an ecoregional-scale.  Our research employs multiple regression and non-parametric analyses to quantify the effects of candidate human and biophysical variables on fire initiation frequency and area burned across BC’s biogeoclimatic zones.

Nicholas Benoy, MSc; Nick Hedley

Towards a spatial imperative in public urban development geovisual analysis and communication.

Urban development (UD) is a complex process that occurs between three major stakeholder groups: (1) a municipal council and staff members; (2) developers and their auxiliary staff, such as architects, lawyers, subject expert analysts (e.g. traffic analysts), and public relations staff; and (3) the general public, including affected citizens and local media.  The communication of proposed urban futures takes many forms, and is pursued to different extents from place to place.  Traditional forms include architectural designs, artists’ renderings, engineering drawings, and physical models.  These methods are usually produced by the project’s architect from pre-defined vantage points that may hide unsavory portions of the development.  Ideally, UD visualizations should allow all stakeholders to explore the development from any vantage point they wish.  More advanced visualizations use virtual environments (VEs) displayed by smartphones or computers to facilitate this office.  This research has three goals: (1) create and apply a rubric to evaluate existing and future UD communication methods, (2) Using the conclusions from part (1), examine two case studies of UD in North Vancouver (Lynn Valley and Seylynn), and (3) create sample Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality applications to communicate urban development, using the part (2)’s case studies as a study area.

Andrew Longhurst, MA; Eugene McCann

Suburban Poverty, Drug Policy, and the Relational Politics of Place: The Case of Surrey, Canada.

Despite evidence that low-income and service-dependent groups are increasingly located outside inner city areas in Canadian and US cities, there has been little attention paid to the territorial and relational politics associated with suburban and city-regional geographies of poverty. Drawing on recent fieldwork in Surrey, a rapidly changing suburb of Vancouver, this presentation will examine the politics of low-barrier and 'harm reduction' health and social services through local policymaking. Examining the political responses towards addiction provides a particular lens to explain the 'management' of suburban social marginality, as well as the barriers that mobile policy knowledges and practices encounter across city-regional space.

Andrew McMillan, MSc; Anders Knudby

Exploring the use Gradient Forest as a preliminary assessment of species functional importance in benthic communities of the Scotian Shelf.

Modifying on the random forest statistical model, Gradient Forest takes an ecosystem approach to Species Distribution Modelling (SDM) and fits multiple species to environmental gradients. This project aims to apply Gradient Forest to the data sparse Scotian Shelf in efforts to provide preliminary insight into community structure and species importance.

Jonathan Cripps, PhD; Tracy Brennand

Constraining Cordilleran Ice Sheet deglaciation pattern and style in southern Interior, BC.

The conceptual model of the decay of the last Cordilleran Ice Sheet (CIS) in south central BC implies rapid vertical decay, but this model lacks evidence. Fresh mapping and fieldwork have revealed a more active, systematic retreat of the CIS, perhaps providing a better analogue of the future decay of the Greenland Ice Sheet.

Bryn Montgomery, MSc; Suzana Dragicevic

Implementation of soft computing in agricultural land suitability analysis.

Urban and industrial growth are continuously reducing valuable agricultural production, leading to severe impacts on global food security. To effectively address this issue, various methods are needed to evaluate the capability and suitability of available lands for current and future food production. The main objective of this study is to propose and implement the multi-criteria evaluation method based on soft computing for analyzing agricultural land capability and its overall suitability. The study is related to the agricultural datasets from Boulder County, Colorado, USA. Results indicate that the integration of soft computing into MCE method produces realistic land capability and agricultural land suitability maps, and thus represents an improved method that can be integrated in regional land-use planning.

Taylor Anderson, MSc; Suzana Dragicevic

Simulating Insect Infestation: Complex Systems Approach.

The main objective of this study is to develop suite of models which use complex systems approaches such as cellular automata and agent based modeling to forecast complex emergent patterns of insect infestation over space and time. The emerald ash borer (Agrilus planipennis; EAB), an invasive beetle native to Asia which has killed millions of ash trees (Fraxinus sp.) across North America is used as a case study for which the methodology is applied.

Chris Cunada, MSc; Lance Lesack

Seasonal Methane Dynamics in Mackenzie River Delta Lakes, Northwest Territories

Methane is an important source of carbon in Mackenzie Delta lake food webs, however there are gaps in our understanding of methane cycling and its importance in carbon processing in this Arctic ecosystem. Research 20 years ago has shown that a significant amount of methane accumulates in Mackenzie Delta lakes under-ice during the winter, but methane production, oxidation and emission during the summer (ice-free) period are poorly understood. The objectives of our research are to: (1) compare current levels of under-ice methane accumulation to that of 20 years ago; (2) investigate differences in methane emissions between lakes of differing river connectivity; and (3) track spring/summer methane production in lakes based on methane oxidation and emission measurements.

Ryan Bradley, PhD; Jeremy Venditti

Re-evaluating Dune Depth Scaling Relations.

This study examines published dune dimension data from over 20 flume and 20 field studies to test the notion that dunes scale with flow depth.  The results have important considerations for dune dynamics at the earth surface as well as interpretations of dunes in the depositional record.

Rebecca Whitmore, MA; Valorie Crooks

Landscapes of care in medical tourism.

My research provides insight into the roles played by friends and family members who accompany medical tourists abroad as informal caregivers. The overall project incorporates four qualitative datasets--interviews with medical tourists, caregiver-companions, and international patient coordinators, and a survey with medical tourism facilitators--and describes the roles that informal caregivers take on as companions, navigators and knowledge brokers in medical tourism. More broadly, my research describes how the (often) invisible caring labour of caregiver-companions complements the care provision by health care workers employed in destination countries, and how this may reinforce trends towards the devaluing and privatization of care work. Medical tourism reproduces landscapes of care in which labour is concealed from view in a dual sense: the necessary care work of caregiver-companions is not accounted for by the industry.