Dilbit for Dinner

Johanna Mason, QE3 Graduate Student, presented the Environmental Studies Seminar on April 4. Johanna’s talk focussed on research she and collaborators conducted during the summer of 2018 at the IISD-Experimental Lakes Area in northwestern Ontario. Her presentation was titled, “Dilbit for dinner: Using stable isotope analysis to trace carbon from a diluted bitumen spill into the aquatic food web.”

Johanna Mason speaking on BOREAL research project
Johanna Mason presenting the April 4 Environmental Studies Seminar Series.

Johanna gave a brief overview of the goals of BOREAL (Boreal lake Oil Release Experiment by Additions to Limnocorrals) study, a multi-institutional project that placed nine 10m diameter mesocosms in a lake at the ELA. She then explained her contribution to the project in greater detail: she used stable isotope analysis to track the movement of diluted bitumen (dilbit) through the food web. Preliminary results indicate that some organisms uptake more carbon from dilbit than others and that generally, time integrated organisms show a stronger trend. This novel application of stable isotope analysis to a freshwater dilbit spill presents an additional fate of dilbit in the environment and shows the potential of stable isotope analysis in a biomonitoring capacity.

Kingston Climate March

On March 15, 2019, QE3 Honour’s student, Julia Weder, co-organized the Kingston Climate Strike, a rally to demand meaningful, large-scale climate action from our institutions. Up to 800 people attended the Kingston event, joined by 1.6 million strikers internationally.

climate rally in Kingston
Julia Weder (centre) speaks at the March 19 climate rally.

Throughout the planning stages, Julia used skills from Dr. Orihel’s science communication course (ENSC480) for writing press releases, keeping messages brief and powerful, and tailoring promotional materials to specific audiences. The event featured musicians, poets, politicians, chanting, and an interactive climate ribbon activity. Members of the environmental advocacy groups 350 Kingston and Queen’s Backing Action on Climate Change volunteered on rally day and continue to generate climate action momentum within the community.
Read the full article at the Kingston Whig Standard.

Kingston Climate Emergency

On March 5, 2019, Julia Weder, QE3 Honour’s Student, and 4 other Environmental Science students delivered a short speech to Kingston’s city councillors to urge them to vote in favour of Kingston’s declaration of a climate emergency. The motion, introduced by councillor Robert Kiley, aimed to “name, frame, and deepen [the city’s] commitment to climate action”.

article in Kingston Whig Standard on March 5
Click the screen capture to read the full article in the Kingston Whig Standard online.

Dr. Diane Orihel teaches the class ENSC480, on science communication, and previously invited Councillor Kiley to the class. During the class, Councillor Kiley facilitated a brainstorming session which aided the students in crafting their City Council speech. At the March 5 council meeting, the students’ science-based, emotion-infused, well-structured speech helped influence Kingston’s 13 councillors to vote unanimously in favour of the declaration!
See the Kingston Whig Standard for the full article.

QE3 hosts Canadian radio journalist at Queen’s

Molly Segal presenting about science commuication
On February 5th, QE3 Research Group hosted inspiring Canadian radio journalist Molly Segal, from Banff, Alberta. Molly’s work focuses on science and environment, ranging from 3-minute news reports to documentaries up to an hour long, which air across North America on public radio and podcasts. While at Queen’s, Ms. Segal guest lectured to our undergraduate students in Communications in Environmental Science on the topic of producing and editing audio stories. Ms. Segal convinced us of the profound power of using voice and sound in storytelling. To the benefit of faculty and students alike, she conducted a seminar titled “The Taxonomy of an Audio Story” in the School of Environmental Studies Seminar Series. In the presentation, Ms. Segal deconstructed the elements of an audio story which radio journalists utilise when interviewing scientists about their research. With much appreciation, we would like to thank Molly Segal for sharing her expertise and putting yet another tool in our kit!

Molly Segal’s visit was made possible by the Queen’s University Experiential Learning Projects Fund.

QE3 hosts leading plastics researcher at Queen’s

Dr. Jennifer Provencher giving a talk at Queen's University
On Thursday January 31st, Dr. Jennifer Provencher visited Queen’s University to spend the day meeting with professors and giving talks. Dr. Provencher is an Environment and Climate Change Canada researcher and is the Wildlife Health Unit Head at the Canadian Wildlife Service. She lectured on the topic of “Microplastics and Indigenous Knowledge” and gave a seminar entitled “Plastic pollution in wildlife; trends, knowledge gaps, and emerging international policies”. Dr. Provencher explained the classification of plastics based on their size, type, and use as well as the impact that they have on the environment. The talk was well attended by students and faculty from both the School of Environmental Studies and Department of Biology. Thank you, Dr. Provencher, for teaching us all more about microplastics!