TRU Science

Abstracts - Environmental Science Seminar Series

Winter 2019

Thursdays from 4 to 4:50 p.m. in S203

View the full seminar schedule.

January 24

Knowledge Makers: Reconnecting with Indigenous Research Practices
Sereana Patterson, Thompson Rivers University


Higher education institutions have played and continue to play a role in the silencing of Indigenous epistemologies and as a result it is necessary to transform these institutions from places of monocultural consolidation to places that embrace multiple knowledge systems. It is therefore crucial that higher education institutions contribute to the capacity and capability building of research within Indigenous communities so that higher education institutions can be transformed into the pluriversities (Boidin, Cohen, & Grosfoguel, 2012). The purpose of this seminar is to engage with how different Indigenous undergraduate learners resisted the monocultural university through the process of research (Knowledge Making). Knowledge Makers the research program was designed to engage Indigenous undergraduate students in the research process from within an Indigenous environment. Knowledge Makers involves the knowledge maker students engaging in an Indigenous research methodologies workshop, publishing and sharing with their community.

February 7

Plant Pathology at Summerland Research and Development Centre: Advancing in Science and Helping the Public
Dr. Jose Ramon Urbez-Torres, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Summerland


Plants get sick too! This seminar will bring an overview of the main lines of research undertaken by the plant pathology team at the Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s Summerland Research and Development Centre. The team focus its research efforts on industry priorities to better understand diseases and their pathogens, with the main goal to developing and implementing best management practices. Several case studies describing how the plant pathology team goes from identification to control of economically important grapevine and tree fruit diseases to Canadian growers will be presented.

February 14

Northern Pacific Rattlesnakes in a Mediterranean Climate
Mike Cardwell, Wildlife Biologist, University of California, Sacramento


About thirty species of the genus Crotalus are distributed from about 30o south latitude to over 50o north latitude in the New World, where they inhabit a wide variety of temperate and tropical habitats. And like all organisms, they are genetically programmed for behaviors that maximize their lifetime reproductive success. This natural selection produces different annual activity patterns in different climates – even within the same species. While Northern Pacific Rattlesnakes (Crotalus o. oreganus) at high latitudes with harsh winters must invest time, energy and risk of predation in biannual migrations to and from well-established communal dens year after year, conspecifics in warmer conditions spend winters in various shelters within their summer foraging range, without dangerous and energetically-expensive migrations. This presentation summarizes the behavior and ecology of the same rattlesnake species as is found around Thompson Rivers University but in a Mediterranean climate, nearly 1400 km south of Kamloops.

February 28

Understanding the Environmental Fate of Arsenicals from the Surface Chemistry of Hematite Nanoparticles
Prof. Hind A. Al-Abadleh, Dept. of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo, Ontario


The environmental fate of arsenic compounds depends on their surface interactions with geosorbents that include minerals and natural organic matter (NOM). In general, molecular-level understanding of surface processes at solid/liquid interfaces demands using simple model systems and integrating spectroscopic, calorimetric, computational chemistry and mathematical modeling tools. In this talk, I will show results on the surface chemistry of arsenate and methylated arsenicals, monomethylarsonic acid (MMA) and dimethylarsinic acid (DMA) with hematite nanoparticles. Spectroscopic data were collected using attenuated total internal reflection Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (ATR-FTIR) and experimental results were complemented with density functional theory (DFT) calculations. Flow calorimetric measurements were also completed to gain insight into surface charge and heats of adsorption. Thermodynamic binding constants were extracted from applying the triple layer surface complexation model to adsorption isotherm and pH-envelope data. The kinetics of arsenicals interaction with hematite nanoparticles pre-exposed to three types of low molecular weight organics will also be discussed. The significance of these results will be discussed in relation to improving modeling tools and designing arsenic-removal technologies.

March 14

In Praise of Floods: Making the Case for the Restoration of the Kelowna Flood Plain.
Prof. John Wagner, Community, Culture and Global Studies UBC Okanagan


Most residents of the City of Kelowna are entirely unaware of the fact that the most heavily developed areas of the city, including the downtown and many residential neighborhoods, are located on what was formerly the combined flood plains of Mission and Mill Creeks. This area formerly included extensive wetland habitat that was home to many species that are now much diminished in number or endangered or extirpated from the Okanagan. Many of those species were highly valued by the Indigenous Sylix who maintained a seasonal fishing camp at the mouth of Mission Creek. Beginning in the 1860s, Europeans began to divert, channelize and dike the creeks and eventually filled in most of the wetland areas between them to make way for roads, houses and farms. But in the Spring of 2017, as an outcome of climate change, severe flooding occurred throughout the former floodplain area and along the foreshore of Okanagan Lake, and significant flooding also occurred in 2018. In this presentation I review the historical characteristics of the flood plain, the means by which it was systematically dismantled, and the opportunities that have now emerged for the partial restoration of the flood plain as an alternative to building larger dikes and expanding upland water storage capacity. Floodplain restoration is not only a cost effective way to reduce the risk of flooding, but also a way to restore biodiversity, resilience and habitat connectivity in the region.

March 21

Wild Cultivation: Traditional Tending of Plants and their Habitats in Northwestern North America
Nancy Turner, CM, OBC, PhD, FRSC, FLS, Emeritus Professor Environmental Studies, University of Victoria


Indigenous Peoples of Northwestern North America are often described as “Hunter-Gatherers,” with the implication that, in terms of plant foods, they simply randomly harvested the wild berries, greens and roots they encountered. Their sophisticated techniques and approaches for sustaining and enhancing their plant foods and habitats are often overlooked. These management practices and associated knowledge are as relevant today as in the past, and have excellent potential for application in ecological restoration, food production, permaculture, and biodiversity conservation. In cultivating “wild” species, Indigenous plant managers bring their personal knowledge, along with techniques and practices passed down through generations. Their contribution to North America’s landscapes include influencing ecological succession, creating and extending particular habitats, pruning and coppicing trees and shrubs, enriching soils, distributing seeds, and transplanting species from one locale to another. But their influence doesn’t end there. Indigenous Peoples also embrace their own associated cultural institutions, means of monitoring and maintaining productivity, and ways of sharing knowledge with others, including future generations. Their lessons and approaches are often taught through experiential learning, storytelling, ceremony, and art. These practices are currently being documented by botanists and ecologists in conjunction with key elders and scholars from many communities.

March 28

Dispatches from the Frontlines of Canada’s New Urban Sporting Environment
Jordan Koch, PhD, Dept. of Kinesiology & Physical Education, McGill University


This presentation explores how a group of homeless men collectively produced an economy of moral worth through a weekly sport-for-development program in the distinct settler-colonial context of Edmonton, Alberta. As a result of Edmonton’s growth and repositioning in the national political economy and beyond, various corporate and civic elites have aspired to re-image the city and, crucially, its downtown core by providing the types of cultural and entertainment amenities that are now commonly on offer in other world-class cities. One of the most significant developments associated with this promotional agenda has been the construction of a publicly financed CAD$ 613.7 million arena and entertainment district to house the National Hockey League’s Edmonton Oilers. The new arena district was intended to revitalize one of city’s poorest areas and to entice white-collar workers to relocate to Edmonton and work for the city’s major corporate players. However, in this presentation, I will emphasize an alternative narrative that stands in complication to this agenda. Drawing upon five-years of ethnographic fieldwork and interviews with homeless men aged 25-42 years, I will shed light on an array of creative, entrepreneurial and moral networks displayed by Edmonton’s homeless in the wake of this urban revitalization project—a community of individuals who continues to expelled from the city’s downtown core.