Faculty Research

 

APPOINTED FACULTY:

CHRISTIAN ABIZAID, Assistant Professor, Dept. of Geography and School of the Environment 
Human-environment interactions, environmental conservation and development, cultural ecology, peasant livelihoods in tropical forests, environmental change, human responses to natural hazards and vulnerability, human-induced environmental change, land use & land cover change, Latin America, Amazon, Mexico.

SARAH FINKELSTEIN, Associate Professor, Dept. of Earth Sciences; Academic Associate Director, School of the Environment
Climate history and the drivers of ecological change through the analysis of core samples and sediment records.

KAREN ING, Associate Professor, Teaching Stream, School of the Environment
Environmental education, interdisciplinary team teaching, valuing ecosystem services and well-being; incentive mechanisms for provisioning of ecosystem services. 

DOUGLAS MACDONALD, Senior Lecturer, School of the Environment
Politics of Canadian environmental policy making; waste and pollution policy; the business firm and trade association as environmental policy actors, Canadian national, federal-provincial climate-change policy; environmental legitimacy as a source of political power; distributive effects, conflict and justice norms associated with the transition to a low-carbon economy.

KATE NEVILLE, Assistant Professor, Dept. of Political Science and School of the Environment
Global environmental politics, with a focus on the dynamics of state-society-corporate relations, resource governance, and contested water and energy developments. Current work explores hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”), pipelines, and land use debates in northern Canada.

W. SCOTT PRUDHAM, Professor, Dept. of Geography and School of the Environment
The commodification of nature; market-based and neoliberal mechanisms for dealing with environmental problems; political ecology, political economy and environmental change; industrial and alternative forestry in western North America; social regulation of commercial biotechnology in agriculture and forestry.

JOHN ROBINSON, Professor, Munk School of Global Affairs and School of the Environment
Urban sustainability, building sustainability, community engagement processes, and university sustainability programming.  Research focuses on urban sustainability, building sustainability, community engagement processes, and university sustainability programming.

Stephen B. Scharper, Associate Professor, Dept. of Anthropology, U of T Mississauga and School of the Environment
Environmental ethics, environmental worldviews, liberation theology and ecology, religions and environmentalism, ecological worldviews.

KIMBERLY STRONG, Professor, Dept. of Physics and Director, School of the Environment
The chemical and physical processes driving atmospheric change through remote sounding of atmospheric composition from ground-based, balloon-borne, and satellite platforms.

CLARE WISEMAN, Assistant Professor and Coordinator, Environment and Health Collaborative Graduate Program, School of the Environment
Metal emissions in urban environments and their human health impacts, contaminants and urban gardening,  environmental health of vulnerable populations.

DEBRA WUNCH, Assistant Professor, Dept. of Physics and School of the Environment
Experimental atmospheric physics, development and construction of remote-sensing experiments to measure trace gas concentrations in the atmosphere. 
 

EMERITUS FACULTY:
BETH SAVAN, Senior Lecturer Emeritus, School of the Environment
Sustainability planning, energy conservation, changing behaviour to conserve resources, community based research, environmental education and community based social marketing, environmental assessment.

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CHRISTIAN ABIZAID:
Assistant Professor, Dept. of Geography and School of the Environment.
Home page
Office: Dept. of Geography, Room 5055, 100 St. George St.
christian.abizaid@utoronto.ca

Research Interests:  Human-environment interactions, environmental conservation and development, cultural ecology, peasant livelihoods in tropical forests, environmental change, human responses to natural hazards and vulnerability, human-induced environmental change, land use & land cover change, Latin America, Amazon, Mexico.

Living with environmental change in W. Amazonia:  traditional peoples’ vulnerability and adaptation
For more than a decade now, Professor Christian Abizaid has been studying how rural populations adapt to rapid environmental change in the Peruvian Amazon. With its headwaters in the Andes, people living in this area face serious threats from climate change, yet little research has been done on how Amazonian riverine populations will be affected and their ability to respond.

    The main objective of this project is to document river dynamics and their socioeconomic impacts on riverine populations, both in the short and long term. This research, which has been published in AmbioThe Geographical Review and Fisheries Management and Ecology, has helped to document some of the most salient short-term hardships endured by floodplain residents downstream, including higher flood levels that destroyed crops and farmland being washed away by increased riverbank erosion.  His research showed very different short-term patterns upstream, where lower flood levels and a shorter river travel route, due to channel straightening, created significant opportunities for subsistence and commercial faming among smallholders.

    Currently, Dr. Abizaid is working with some students on field data collected in 2013, with support from the Connaught New Researcher Award, to examine how short-term challenges and opportunities identified earlier play out in the long run to learn more about the dynamic nature of vulnerability and long-term prospects for adaptation. He plans to continue to document how livelihoods evolve in this setting and is planning on expanding this research with studies that examine the links between river dynamics and settlement and the importance of social networks for adaptation.

Recent Publications:
Abizaid, C., O.T. Coomes, Y. Takasaki, and S. Brisson. 2014. Social network analysis and peasant agriculture: cooperative labor as gendered relational networks. The Professional Geographer (In press)

Takasaki, Y., O.T. Coomes, C. Abizaid, and S. Brisson. 2014. An efficient nonmarket institution under imperfect markets: labor sharing for tropical forest clearing. American Journal of Agricultural Economics 96(3): 711-732.

Coomes, O., Y. Takasaki, C. Abizaid and B. Barham. 2010. Floodplain fisheries as natural insurance for the rural poor in tropical forest environments: evidence from Amazonia. Fisheries Management & Ecology. 17:513-521.

 

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SARAH FINKELSTEIN
Associate Professor, Dept. of Earth Sciences; Academic Associate Director, School of the Environment
Home page
Office: Dept. of Earth Sciences, Room 3129, 22 Russell St.
finkelstein@es.utoronto.ca

Research Interests:  Climate history and the drivers of ecological change through the analysis of core samples and sediment records.

Sarah Finkelstein appointed as the School of the Environment’s new Academic Associate Director
We are pleased to welcome Dr. Sarah Finkelstein as the School of the Environment’s Academic Associate Director from January 1, 2016 to June 30, 2020. In this role, she will coordinate and oversee the School's undergraduate programs and graduate collaborative programs, assist in advising students, and oversee other academic program-related activities.

Dr. Finkelstein is an Associate Professor in the Department of Earth Sciences where she studies climate history and the drivers of ecological change through the analysis of core samples and sediment records.  Dr. Finkelstein obtained degrees at Princeton (AB, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology), Cambridge (MPhil, Plant Sciences) and the University of Toronto (PhD, Physical Geography, 2004), and completed an NSERC Post-Doctoral Fellowship at University of Ottawa (2004-2005) prior to her appointment to the UofT Faculty in 2006. She has conducted research on both recent and paleo-environmental change in the Canadian High Arctic, the Hudson Bay Lowlands in Ontario’s Far North, as well as Barro Colorado Island in Panama, coastal wetlands of the lower Great Lakes, and the savanna region of South Africa. Dr Finkelstein is cross-appointed to the graduate faculty in the Department of Geography and the Department of Physical and Environmental Sciences at UTSC and is a Research Associate at the Royal Ontario Museum. Please see http://paleoecologylab.com/ for more information on Dr Finkelstein’s research and publications.

 

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KAREN ING
Associate Professor, Teaching Stream, School of the Environment.
Office: School of the Environment, Room 2098, 33 Willcocks St.
karen.ing@utoronto.ca

Research Interests: Environmental education, interdisciplinary team teaching, valuing ecosystem services and well-being; incentive mechanisms for provisioning of ecosystem services. 

Development of International Opportunities for School of the Environment undergraduate students: Karen Ing spent part of 2013-14 sabbatical working with the Centre for International Experience at the University to seek and develop international opportunities for the School’s undergraduate students, particularly with strategic universities to help the School further strengthen international partnerships.  She visited eight universities to establish collaborations such as developing new summer course opportunities, internship/research opportunities, and more immersive and directed term abroad opportunities. 

Incentive Mechanisms for the Provision of Ecosystem Services in Ontario: The provision of ecosystem services poses challenges similar to as those associated with the provision of public goods.  These challenges become more serious when the providers are private landowners.  In partnership with conservation authorities in Southern Ontario, this project is being undertaken to enable community organizations to implement the most appropriate incentive mechanisms by enhancing their capacities, and to facilitate relevant policy changes related to the provision of ecosystem services, at the national, provincial, and municipal levels.

 

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DOUGLAS MACDONALD
Senior Lecturer, School of the Environment.
Home page.
Office: School of the Environment, Room 1049B (5 Bancroft Ave. entrance).
douglas.macdonald@utoronto.ca

Research Interests:  Politics of Canadian environmental policy making; waste and pollution policy; the business firm and trade association as environmental policy actors, Canadian national, federal-provincial climate-change policy; environmental legitimacy as a source of political power; distributive effects, conflict and justice norms associated with the transition to a low-carbon economy.


Creating a low-carbon future in Canada:  how has resistance to a distributive effects approach impacted policy?
Funded by Carbon Management Canada from 2010 to 2014, this project was part of a larger project with Carleton University’s Dr. James Meadowcroft(Public Policy and Administration, and Political Science) on Governance Innovation and the Transition to a Low-Carbon Economy. 

    The U of T portion of the project was led by Dr. Douglas Macdonald, Senior Lecturer and Academic Associate Director at the School of the Environment.  Graduate students included U of T Ph.D. candidates Jodi Adams, Political Science; Cristian Ches, Geography/Environmental Studies;David Houle, Political Science/Environmental Studies; Matthew Lesch, Political Science; and Carleton University PhD candidate Brendan Haley and York University MES candidate Madison Van West.

    The research sought to grapple with a significant barrier to the transition to a low-carbon economy -- the distributive effects of climate change policy which inevitably creates “winners” and “losers,” in terms of both economic and psychological impacts. The basic research question was: how has political activity by such losers and winners influenced development of Canadian climate-change policy to date?

    We examined eight case studies:

1. the failure of efforts by Canadian governments to develop national climate change and energy programs;

2. differing cost and benefit associated with interprovincial hydro-electricity transmission;

3. local citizen perceptions of distributive fairness as a factor influencing wind-turbine siting in BC, Ontario and Quebec;

4. resistance to the inherently distributive activity of wind-turbine siting in Ontario;

5. coal industry and the end of coal-fired electricity generation in Ontario, compared to expanded use in Alberta;

6. influence of the wind and solar industries on electricity policy in Ontario;

7. comparison of Ontario and BC experience in managing resistance to green electricity policy; and

8. successful experience of BC in designing its 2008 carbon tax.

    We found that political resistance to climate-change policy motivated by distributive effects currently exists in Canada and is to some extent weakening policy effectiveness. Governments to date have done a poor job (with the exception of the BC carbon tax, from which lessons can be learned) in managing distributive effects resistance. Counter-vailing pressure from renewable energy winners is not yet strong enough to influence Ontario electricity policy, although it has that potential. Results will be published in the academic literature and as a report to Canadian governments.

Recent Publications:
Macdonald, D. 2013. Allocating Canadian Greenhouse Emission Reductions Amongst Sources and Provinces: Learning from the EU and Germany. Availablehere.

Macdonald, D. and M. Lesch. 2013. Competing visions and inequitable costs: the national energy strategy and regional distributive conflicts. Journal of Environmental Law and Practice 25: 1-17.

Macdonald, D. 2012.  State interest as an explanatory factor in the failure of the soft-path energy vision.  Energy Policy 43 (April 2012): 92-101.

 

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KATE NEVILLE
Assistant Professor, Dept. of Political Science and School of the Environment
Home page
Office:  Dept. of Political Science, Room 3103, 100 St. George St.
kate.neville@utoronto.ca

Research interests:  Global environmental politics, with a focus on the dynamics of state-society-corporate relations, resource governance, and contested water and energy developments. Current work explores hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”), pipelines, and land use debates in northern Canada.

Kate Neville Joins the School of the Environment in July 2015: 
Assistant Professor researches global politics of energy & water resource development

The School of the Environment is pleased to announce that Dr. Kate Neville has been appointed to a tenure-track assistant professorship, starting on July 1, 2015.  This is a joint position: 51% in the Dept of Political Science and 49% in the School.

    Kate’s research interests lie in the geographic, sociological, and historical context of energy and water resource developments in the global political economy.  She completed her PhD in Political Science at the University of British Columbia, with a dissertation on the political economy of biofuels, focussing on eastern Africa.  She also has a Master’s of Environmental Science from Yale University’s School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, and a BSc (honours) in Biology from Queen’s.  Kate was a SSHRC post-doctoral fellow in the Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke University, where she studied unconventional oil and gas developments, with particular attention to debates over hydraulic fracturing in the Canadian north.

    Kate brings a range of disciplinary perspectives to her research, enabling her to engage in discussions on questions of sustainability and governance from multiple angles.  She examines strategies of activism, shifting models of corporate governance, changing relationships between humans and the natural world, and the interactions between claim-makers and power-holders in historically grounded cycles of contention. Her work has attracted interest from policy-makers, practitioners, activists, indigenous communities, and industry. She brings a much-needed scholarly lens and a critical perspective to contentious and polarizing issues.

    With her impressive publications and success in interdisciplinary studies, working with both natural and social scientists, Kate will be a great addition to the School!

Recent publication:
Neville, K.J. The Contentious Political Economy of Biofuels Global Environmental Politics February 2015, 15(1): 21-40. doi:10.1162/GLEP_a_00270

 

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W. SCOTT PRUDHAM
Professor, Department of Geography and School of the Environment.
Home page
Office: Dept. of Geography, Room 5007, 100 St. George St.
scott.prudham@utoronto.ca

Research Interests:  The commodification of nature; market-based and neoliberal mechanisms for dealing with environmental problems; political ecology, political economy and environmental change; industrial and alternative forestry in western North America; social regulation of commercial biotechnology in agriculture and forestry.

Recent Publications:
Prudham, S. 2013. Men and things: Karl Polanyi, primitive accumulation, and their relevance to a radical green political economy. Environment and Planning A 45(7) :1569-1587.

Abstract:  Now is an important moment to be thinking and talking about a critical and normative green political economy. Whether via attempts to develop effective and socially just climate policies at multiple scales of governance [including REDD (reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation) schemes], or to develop proliferating and controversial neoliberal instruments for dealing with undesirable environmental change, environmental governance, and environmental change in the context of contemporary global capitalism are on the agenda. What would a critical and normative green political economy for the current moment look like? This paper draws on Karl Polanyi’s The Great Transformation as a resource for answering that question. In particular, Polanyi’s discussion of problematic and dualistic notions of nature and society in early political economy and the role he accords social struggles over land in developing his theory of fictitious commodities, embeddedness and the double movement are revisited. The paper stresses how Polanyi’s ideas, at once conceptual and polemical, draw centrally on Marx’s theorization of primitive accumulation as an inherent, ‘extra-economic’ facet of historical–geographical capitalism, a differentiated unity linking the commodification and objectification of human and nonhuman natures as exchange-values. In this respect, Polanyi offers (or seems to offer) a potential reconciliation of a politics of nonhuman and human nature through his emphasis on primitive accumulation as a site of both political struggle and epistemic transformation.

Prudham, S. 2012. Pimping climate change: Richard Branson, global warming and the performance of green capitalism. In: S. Eldon et al (eds.) Environment and Planning: Five Volume Set. Volume 1: Cities and Regions.

Prudham, W.S. 2012. The political economy of a crisis. In: N. Castree and D. Gregory (eds). Human Geography. Volume 4. Sage Publications, Thousand Oaks, California.

Prudham, S. and W. Coleman. 2011. Introduction: Property, autonomy, territory, and globalization.  In: W. Coleman (ed.)  Property, Territory, Globalization:  Struggles Over Autonomy. University of British Columbia Press, Vancouver.  Pages 1-28.

Prudham, S. 2011.  Making forests “normal”:  Sustained yield, improvement, and the establishment of globalist forestry in British Columbia.  In: W. Coleman (ed.) (See above.) Pages 80-100.

 

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JOHN ROBINSON
Professor, Munk School of Global Affairs and School of the Environment
Home page
Office: Munk School of Global Affairs, Room 202, 315 Bloor St. West.
johnb.robinson@utoronto.ca

Research interests: Urban sustainability, building sustainability, community engagement processes, and university sustainability programming.  Research focuses on urban sustainability, building sustainability, community engagement processes, and university sustainability programming.


John Robinson, leading scholar in sustainability studies, joins the School of the Environment as a Full Professor in a joint appointment with the Munk School of Global Affairs

We are pleased to announce that Dr. John Robinson joined the School of the Environment as a Full Professor on January 1, 2016.  This is a joint position with the Munk School of Global Affairs: 51% Global Affairs, 49% Environment.

Professor Robinson has a global reputation in the areas of urban sustainability, building sustainability, community engagement processes, and university sustainability programming. He will be developing regenerative sustainability and living lab programs at U of T.  He is also very actively involved in trying to establish such programs at the Copenhagen Business School (where he is an Adjunct Professor), and Gros Morne National Park in Newfoundland, while there are other discussions starting in several other locations.

This term at the School of the Environment, he will be teaching a graduate course on The Development of Sustainability Thought (ENV 2002)

From 1992-2015, he was Professor with the Institute for Resources, Environment & Sustainability, and the Department of Geography at The University of British Columbia (UBC). From 2012-15, he was Associate Provost, Sustainability, at UBC, responsible for leading the integration of academic and operational sustainability on the University of British Columbia’s Vancouver campus. Prof. Robinson’s own research focuses on the intersection of climate change mitigation, adaptation and sustainability; the use of visualization, modeling, and citizen engagement to explore sustainable futures; sustainable buildings and urban design; creating partnerships for sustainability with non-academic partners; and, generally, the intersection of sustainability, social and technological change, behaviour change, and community engagement processes.

In 2012 Dr. Robinson received the Metro Vancouver Architecture Canada Architecture Advocacy Award and was named Environmental Scientist of the Year by Canadian Geographic magazine. In 2011, he received the Canada Green Building Council Education Leadership Award, and in 2010 he was given BC Hydro’s Larry Bell Award for advancing energy conservation in British Columbia. He was a Fellow of the Pierre Elliot Trudeau Foundation from 2008-11, and, as a Lead Author, he contributed to the 1995, 2001 and 2007 reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007 with Al Gore.   At the Munk School, Prof. Robinson will be a member of the Environmental Governance Lab and he will teach in the MGA program.

 

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STEPHEN B. SCHARPER
Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology, U of T Mississauga and School of the Environment.
Office: School of the Environment, Room 2103, 33 Willcocks St.
stephen.scharper@utoronto.ca

Research Interests: Environmental ethics, environmental worldviews, liberation theology and ecology, religions and environmentalism, ecological worldviews.

 

Recent Publications:
Scharper, S. B. 2014. Option for the poor and option for the Earth: toward a sustainable solidarity.  In G. Gutierrez and D. Groody (eds.) Option for the Poor: An Interdisciplinary Perspective.  University of Notre Dame Press. Page 97-120.

Scharper, S. B. and H. Cunningham. Lifeform, livelihood and lifeway: reflections on urban and planetary futures. In D. Nonini (ed). The Future of Cities,  Blackwell Publishers. (Forthcoming.)

Stefanovic, I.L. and S.B. Scharper (eds.) 2012.  The Natural City: Re-Envisioning the Built Environment. University of Toronto Press. 356 pages.

Scharper, S. B.  2013. For Earth’s Sake: Toward a Compassionate Ecology. Toronto: Novalis. 224 pages.
SummaryEach of the three sections consists of short articles written for theToronto Star (with one interview which is the exception) and longer essays as chapters. The shorter articles are interspersed intentionally throughout the section to emphasize certain themes and/or to draw the reader’s attention to complementary issues not touched upon in the articles.

    Each section represents one of a three-pronged approach, “revealing-reflecting-redeeming”, which Dr. Scharper employs to address our ecological challenge and the deepening economic disparity we face. While this cluster broadly resembles the liberation theology methodology of “see, judge, act”, his approach is recast here to emphasize an undulating motion in time and in space to capture the realities of historical and geographical disparities in economic developments that besmirch our planet, and to highlight the dialectic between past wisdoms – some worthy of upholding, other deleterious to the planet’s well-being. It also underlines the challenging task of defining a new ontology and ethic which are still indistinct in nature. This methodology is aptly captured by the prefix ‘re’, which he incorporates in many of his writings.


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KIMBERLY STRONG
Professor, Department of Physics and Director, School of the Environment.
Home page
Office: School of the Environment, Room 1020, 33 Willcocks St., Toronto,
director.environment@utoronto.ca;

Research Interests:  Atmospheric remote sounding using ground-based, balloon-borne, and satellite instruments for studies of ozone chemistry, climate, and air quality. Founder of the U of T Atmospheric Observatory; Deputy Principal Investigator (PI) of Probing the Atmosphere of the High Arctic program, which runs the PEARL facility in the high Arctic; Co-I on the ACE and Odin satellite missions; PI of the Canadian FTIR Observing Network, and Director of the NSERC CREATE Training Program in Arctic Atmospheric Science.

Arctic Atmospheric Science:  Our group has been making measurements at Eureka, Nunavut since 1999 and we were involved in establishing the Polar Environment Atmospheric Research Laboratory (PEARL) in 2005.  In 2013, the PEARL team was awarded funding from NSERC’s Climate Change and Atmospheric Research program for the project “Probing the Atmosphere of the High Arctic (PAHA)” to support our activities for another five years.  PEARL houses about 20 instruments, four of which are run by students and postdocs in my group.  I am leader of the Composition Measurements theme, which is acquiring trace gas time series to improve our understanding of processes and trends related to the carbon cycle; ozone depletion; biomass burning; and clouds, aerosols, and precipitation.

The Canadian FTIR Observing Network (CAFTON):  With support from the Canadian Space Agency, we are running a network of Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectrometers for atmospheric measurements over Canada. Measurements of a suite of chemical species are integrated with models to characterize atmospheric composition, determine transport pathways, and identify pollution sources. In 2013, we signed a ten-year loan agreement with Environment Canada for four new instruments.

Satellite Remote Sounding:  We are involved in the Odin/OSIRIS and ACE satellite missions, both of which have been making global observations of the atmosphere for over a decade.  We have contributed to the development of new methods for deriving, validating, and interpreting geophysical data from these missions, particularly for a suite of reactive nitrogen trace gases.

Recent Publications:  
P.E. Sheese, E.J. Lewellyn, R.L. Gattinger, and K. Strong.  OH Meinel band nightglow profiles from OSIRIS observations.  J. Geophys. Res. Atmos., 119 (19), 11417–11428, 2014.

C. Viatte, K. Strong, et al., Identifying fire plumes in the Arctic with tropospheric FTIR measurements and transport models, Atmos. Chem. Phys, 15, 2227-2246, 2015.

 

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CLARE WISEMAN
Assistant Professor and Coordinator, Environment and Health Collaborative Graduate Program, School of the Environment. 
Home page
Office: School of the Environment, Room 2097, 33 Willcocks St.
clare.wiseman@utoronto.ca

Research Interests: Metal emissions in urban environments and their human health impacts, contaminants and urban gardening,  environmental health of vulnerable populations.

Assessing Metal Solubility in Airborne Particulate Matter as a Proxy for Bio-Accessibility: This research examines the solubility of metals associated with airborne particulate matter fractions of human health concern as a proxy for bioaccessibility, using in vitro techniques with simulated human lung fluids. The overall goal is to identify best practices in using physiologically-based extraction experiments. Current research examines commonly used leaching solutions to determine metal solubility and their suitably to assess bioaccessibility in the human lung. 

Urban Gardening & Airborne Particulate Matter: Exploring the Fate of Traffic-Related Emissions and the Effectiveness of Risk Reduction Measures:  This examines the fate of traffic-related metal emissions in the urban environment, their uptake by commonly cultivated plants and the effectiveness of soil remediation measures.  From 2010 to 2013, different plant species were cultivated at several soil remediated locations in Toronto, with variable traffic densities to assess the soil accumulation of metal emissions over time, their uptake by plants and potential health risks of consumption.

Platinum Group Element Emissions: Environmental Concentrations, Exposure Levels and Human Health Risks: (Ongoing collaboration with Fathi Zereini, University of Frankfurt.) Investigates platinum group element (PGE) emissions in automotive exhaust and their environmental fate and bioaccessibility. Current collaborative research examines the role of common environmental complexing agents in the transformation of PGE into more toxic species and the application of simulated biological fluids to assess PGE bioaccessibility in the human lung. In addition, PGE concentrations in Toronto soil and road dust samples are the present focus of a co-supervised graduate thesis.

Recent Publications:
Zereini, F and C.L.S. Wiseman (Eds.) 2015. Platinum Metals in the Environment. Springer, Berlin. 492 pages.

Wiseman C.L.S., and F. Zereini. 2014. Characterizing metal(loid) solubility in airborne PM10, PM2.5 and PM1 in Frankfurt, Germany using simulated lung fluids. Atmospheric Environment 89: 282-289.

Wiseman C.L.S., F. Zereini and W. Püttmann. 2014. Metal translocation patterns in Solanum melongena grown in close proximity to traffic.Environmental Science and Pollution Research 21: 1572-1581.

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DEBRA WUNCH
Assistant Professor, Dept. of Physics and School of the Environment
Office:  McLennan Physical Labs, Room 707A, 60 St. George St.

debra.wunch@utoronto.ca

 

Debra Wunch joins the School of the Environment:  Assistant Professor studies the carbon cycle, a critical tool for understanding current and future climate

We are pleased to announce that Dr. Debra Wunch joined the School of the Environment as an Assistant Professor on January 1, 2016.  This is a joint position with the Department of Physics: 51% Physics, 49% Environment.

Dr. Wunch is an experimental atmospheric physicist who has an exceptional record in hands-on development and construction of remote-sensing experiments to measure trace gas concentrations in the atmosphere.  She obtained her PhD in 2007 at the University of Toronto under the supervision of Professor (now Emeritus) James Drummond.  Since 2007 she has been at the California Institute of Technology, where she has played a key role in the Total Carbon Column Observing Network (TCCON), which monitors greenhouse gases with unprecedented precision and accuracy.  Dr. Wunch has co-authored more than 60 papers in top journals in the field.

Her particular specialty is measuring the concentration of the greenhouse gases, including CO2, an area in which she is an acknowledged world-wide authority.  Her current interests lie in understanding the Earth’s carbon cycle, both on urban and global scales.  She has been actively involved in all aspects of the TCCON, which is a global network of ground-based, solar-viewing Fourier transform spectrometers that measure atmospheric trace gases, such as CO2, CO and CH4. She was responsible for the TCCON stations in Lamont, Oklahoma and Pasadena, California, and in her new position, she will be setting up a new TCCON station in western Canada to measure carbon uptake and release in the boreal forest, which is an important but little studied component of the Earth’s carbon system.  With the TCCON data, she has been providing support for the evaluation of the Greenhouse Gases Observing Satellite (GOSAT) and Orbiting Carbon Observatory (OCO-2) satellite data. She also studies the carbon cycle and emissions within large urban areas (‘megacities’) and plans to extend this work to Toronto.

 

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EMERITUS FACULTY: 


BETH SAVAN
Senior Lecturer Emeritus, School of the Environment
b.savan@utoronto.ca



Partnership with Toronto cycling community hopes to encourage more cycling

By Trudy Ledsham

The Toronto Cycling Think & Do Tank is funded by a SSHRC Partnership Development Grant administered at the School of the Environment since 2012.  It combines expert practitioners and academics to address important gaps in knowledge about creating more sustainable cities. Partners are Cycle Toronto, Spacing, dandyhorse magazine, Heart & Stroke Foundation, Charlie’s Freewheels, Evergreen, Fourth Floor, Toronto Centre for Active Transportation, Metcalf Foundation, CultureLink Settlement Services, McGill University and Simon Fraser University.

    Active transportation has been identified as one of the solutions increasing sustainability and reducing congestion in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area. Cycling increases the range of easily accessible trips from 2km for walking to 5-7km for riding. Typically researchers and policy makers focus on physical infrastructure and, while important, it is not the sole driver of cycling participation.  Early results have been very promising. Two behaviour change pilot projects were undertaken in the summer of 2013. These projects incorporate sophisticated behavior change strategies including: identification and mapping of cycling behaviour; demographic parameters affecting cycling readiness; and an evidence-based behaviour change toolkit. The Tool Kit to Accelerate the Adoption of Cycling for Transportation; Mapping Cycling Behaviour in Toronto was developed from a comprehensive literature review aligning outcomes of documented cycling interventions with specific strategies to increase uptake. The result is an adaptable toolkit that outlines a sequence of steps, with optional activities at each step adaptable to varying circumstances. 

    In our first pilot project, we partnered with BikeChain, a do-it-yourself educational bike repair shop on the U of campus (http://bikechain.utoronto.ca) and with the Charles Street Graduate Residence. For the second pilot, we partnered with CultureLink Settlement Services and focused on newcomers to Canada. Results were startling. Traditional social marketing for behaviour change was used with the Charles St. residents: rates of cycling barely budged.  The second project was a mentorship project focused on new Canadians in which bikes were simply the tool used to facilitate social activity and transport. Most participants were motivated by their interest in meeting more established Canadians. These participants increased their cycling by about 500%. 

    As a result of these early interventions, we were successful in securing funding from the Metcalf Foundation to expand the CultureLink Bike Host program to a new neighbourhood (St. Jamestown) in order to both document and capture the work for replication by other agencies and to understand whether the success rate of 2013 could be replicated in 2014 with more sophisticated and rigorous measurement methods. The summer 2014 project has close to 60 mentees and 22 mentors (two of whom are former M.Sc. Planning students from the project). 

    In order to gain a fuller understanding of how Canadian Communities can increase cycling for transportation, we are undertaking a new five-year study (2014-2019) funded by a recently awarded SSHRC Insight Grant. Dr. Beth Savan, Senior Lecturer Emeritus at the School of the Environment and former Director of the U of T Sustainability Office has partnered with Dr. Meghan Winters (Simon Fraser University) and Dr. Ray Tomalty (McGill University) to examine the intersection of policy, infrastructure and behaviour change. Dr. Paul Hess (Geography, U of T) and Nancy Smith Lea (Toronto Centre for Active Transportation) as well as Dr. Kevin Manaugh (Geography, McGill University) are also collaborating on the project. The intent is to provide guidance to interested communities on the most effective suites of interventions. Today, municipalities are eager for the opportunities active transportation offers, but are often unsure of where scarce funds should be most effectively applied. Cycling behaviour generally correlates with infrastructure, but underlying urban form and social and demographic contexts are also contributors (e.g. In Toronto, cycling mode share increased dramatically between 2006 and 2011 while infrastructure for cycling did not). To date, research has not identified reasons for the uneven growth of cycling nor the interaction of policy, infrastructure and social/behavioural factors contributing to it. Our project hopes to change that.

   Research work on cycling economies has also been undertaken and the resulting report Cyclists, Bike Lanes, and On-Street Parking: Economic Impacts by M.Sc. Planning student Daniel Arancibia was a pivotal influence on the Eglinton Crosstown Project: bike lanes are now part of all proposed designs. This work has also been recognized with supportive funding by the Canadian Heart and Stroke Foundation through a Sparks Grant. In partnership with Cycle Toronto the research will be used as a foundation to train cycling advocates to educate Business Improvement Associations regarding the economic benefits cycling infrastructure and participation can bring to main streets.  

     Cycling is an important solution to a wide range of urban issues. Research in the area is eagerly anticipated by municipal transportation and planning departments, health departments and advocates, environmental organizations, cycling advocates and the media, who frequently interview our researchers. It is an exciting time to be working in the field of active transportation.

Trudy Ledsham is Project Manager of the Toronto Cycling Think & Do Tank.  For more information, please visit www.torontocycling.org or contact her at trudy.ledsham@utoronto.ca or Dr. Beth Savan at b.savan@utoronto.ca.