Grad Research Day

January 08, 2018

Grad Research Day this year will be Monday, January 8th starting at 10am in RCB 7100. This is a great opportunity to find out what kind of exciting research our students are up to, and to provide helpful feedback.

  • Date: January 8th, 2018
  • Time: 10 am - 11:30 am
  • Room: RCB 7100

Here's the brief description for each presentation.

10:00am         Samantha Thompson

Program: MA
Supervisor: Eugene McCann

“More than shelter: Producing home in Vancouver’s women’s housing”

A critical geography of home has demonstrated the importance of understanding home as a physical place, a set of feelings, a politicized site of power and identity, and a place that is multi-scalar (Blunt & Dowling, 2006). Yet, despite the significance of home, housing discussions among policymakers, politicians, and the public tend to focus on housing as a commodity, rather than housing as a potential site of home. This research builds on this literature by suggesting that the social value of housing, as home, needs to be more fully understood and included in conversations around proposed solutions to low-income housing shortages. Through an examination of government policies, strategies, and publications, as well as ethnographic research in non-profit housing organizations in Vancouver, Canada, I explore the relationship between the conceptual use of home in policy and the experiences of home by tenants in low-income housing, with a focus on women’s experiences of housing. The research uses intersecting frameworks of home, care work, and neoliberal urbanism to offer a feminist critical geography of home production in low-income women’s housing, and in turn contribute to a developing discussion around the ways that the social value of housing as home is produced, understood and valued.


10:15am          Melora Koepke

Program: PhD
Supervisor: Eugene McCann

“Tactics for the unthinkable: Urban space, encounter, and the relational politics of care and control”

This presentation introduces my dissertation research project, based on fieldwork in two sites in Paris, France: The Centre Humanitaire Paris-Nord, a reception space for undocumented migrants arriving in Paris from sub-saharan Africa and the Middle East, and Espace GAIA, France’s first supervised injection site. These two sites, both funded by the French state and governed municipally, opened in fall of 2016 - and both are constructed as spatial strategies for care and control of specific homeless populations considered “disorderly” by forces of order. In the first case, target population is prospective asylum-seekers newly arrived in Paris, who sleep rough in various transit and public spaces while awaiting entry into the French immigration bureaucracy, and in the latter, people who have historically used injection drugs in the public spaces of a specific neighbourhood Parisian neighbourhood around two train stations in the heart of the city.  

Based on two years of ethnographic fieldwork directly within these two spaces of care with workers, volunteers and beneficiaries of the sites, as well as with stakeholders in the neighbourhoods where they are directly located, and with political actors involved in governing them, my study focuses on the multiple registers on which politics are felt, lived and shaped in and beyond these spaces themselves at the urban scale and beyond.

Through a theoretical framework informed by feminist, non-representational and relational-poverty approaches to conceptualizing politics and urban space, I ask whether and how the highly visible yet intimate everyday encounters in these sites may shape the lives, futures and capacities of various actors encountering one another here, and in turn frame politics at the individual scale and beyond. Further, I argue human and more-than-human encounters in these specific spaces enact a politics of care that is both intimate and performative, that renders global geopolitical pressures visible, tangible, and proximal at the urban scale, and that may thus enable or restrict an immanent - and specifically urban - politics of action and resistance. 


10:30am         Kimberley Geeves

Program: MSc
Supervisor: Lance Lesack

“Microbial carbon processing in Arctic lake sediments of the Mackenzie River Delta, Canadian Western Arctic”

The Mackenzie River Delta is a complex Arctic ecosystem, containing over 45,000 shallow freshwater lakes that widely range in primary productivity, carbon quality and quantity, and greenhouse gas-balances of methane and carbon dioxide. It is a key ecosystem of the Canadian Western Arctic because it functions as a biological hotspot, relative to the surrounding tundra landscape, and makes substantial contributions to the global methane budget. Methane is also a significant source of carbon and energy for these small Arctic lakes and thus an important fuel for local food webs. Differing carbon quality translates to widely differing energy efficiencies for microbial communities, which ultimately influence the net amount of methane that is released to the atmosphere or cycled through local food webs. Sediment cores from 34 lakes in the spring, and bi-weekly from 6 lakes over the summer, hope to reveal links between biogeochemical and physical properties of lake sediments to microbial abundance and activity, and provide insight on the short- and long-term storage of carbon in this complex system. Due to the importance of microbial communities on methane dynamics, having a better understanding of the physical factors that influence their activity would enable a better understanding of the overall Delta system and help evaluate the impact of projected future conditions in a region that may contribute significantly to the atmospheric methane budget.


10:45am         Jordan Bryce

Program: MSc
Supervisor: Tracy Brennand

“Evolution of Pruth Bay- West Beach isthmus, Calvert Island, British Columbia”

Calvert Island is a large rocky island situated on the central coast of British Columbia between Vancouver Island and Haida Gwaii. Recent research on Calvert Island has suggested that sea level has remained relatively stable there since retreat of the Fraser glaciation about 15 000 calendar years ago (Shugar et al. 2014; McLaren et al. 2014). Consequently, the island has a long record of environmental change contained in its many landforms (embayed beaches, dunes, tombolos, isthmi, etc.) that have been largely unaffected by changes in sea level. Furthermore, archaeological evidence has suggested that Calvert Island has a record of human occupation extending back at least 10 000 cal years (McLaren et al. 2014), so knowledge of postglacial landscape evolution is important for understanding settlement patterns. Calvert Island, therefore, is a geologically and archaeologically significant region that warrants additional detailed research. On the northwest part of Calvert Island there exists a large ‘plug’ of stabilized (forested) sand connecting two rocky islands. This isthmus is the largest sedimentary landform on the northwest part of the island and its formation isolated the east and west coasts of the island, affecting ocean currents and patterns of sand movement in the area. Preliminary research has shown that the surface of the isthmus may have stabilized as recently as a few hundred calendar years ago (Eamer et al. 2017), but the timing and method of its formation remains unknown, and it is not known if the isthmus experienced episodes of stabilization before this. Knowledge of the character and timing of its formation is important for understanding the evolution of the nearshore physical and biological environments in the area. Therefore, my research aims to determine how and when the isthmus formed using ground-penetrating radar and optical dating.


11:00am          Samantha Romano

Program: MSc
Supervisor: Nicholas Hedley

“Experiencing landscapes of injustice through geovisual interface narratives”

Using geovisual methods and interface technology to understand landscapes of injustices hidden in everyday spaces. Conventional GIS methods are commonly used for analysis and visual communication in historical GIS research. New technologies and methods are emerging, providing new opportunities to reconstruct, query, explore and communicate complex social narratives. 
Established geographic methods can now be fused with a new range of techniques that can be combined into immersive, interactive, situated virtual and mixed reality representations that mobilize rigorous research into transformative, awareness-building experiences.
This research explores the potential of 3D geovisualization and spatial interface technologies to mobilize historical GIS and social narrative research for the Landscapes of Injustice project – aimed at documenting the dispossession, displacement and incarceration of Japanese-Canadians during WWII. This exploration is being conducted in virtual spaces of analysis and interpretation; mobile 360 VR spaces capturing narratives of injustice and reconciliation; and mixed reality spaces that aim to transform our understanding of everyday space through experiential GIScience.
This presentation provides an overview of trends in historical GIS methods, the background and objectives of the LOI project. This will be followed by descriptions of work translating LOI GIS research into geovisual interfaces, presenting selected examples of 3D capture methods, virtual reconstruction, and interactive and immersive exploration. These will be followed by discussion of a developing collaboration with new partners in the Japanese-Canadian community, their support of this project, and plans to integrate it into their community engagement strategy. The presentation will conclude with a summary of ongoing work, next steps and their potential.  

 Lunch 11:30-12:30