Research Day

 

research day

 

Date of 2017 Research Day to be announced.

Join us for this annual event as we celebrate Earth Day and hear about some of the research conducted by faculty and graduate students of the School of the Environment. The 2016 program included four research talks, followed by a presentation of graduate students' awards and refreshments. 

 

For more information, please email m.elhaddad@utoronto.ca

FACULTY CLUB, 2nd floor, 41 Willcocks St. (east of Spadina Ave., south of Bloor St. and north of College St.)

DIRECTIONS VIA TTC AND PARKING:
Via TTC:  Willcocks street is three lights south of Spadina subway. Take 501 Spadina streetcar southbound.

Parking: metered parking on Willcocks St. or underground lot at 213 Huron St. (1 block east), north of College St.  
(Call 416-978-PARK or visit the 
parking website)

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Research Day
WED APRIL 20, 2016
1:00 to 4:00 pm

PROGRAM SCHEDULE:

ABSTRACTS AND BIOGRAPHIES TO BE POSTED SOON.  Please check back here.  

1:00
KIMBERLY STRONG, Professor and Director, School of the Environment
Opening Remarks


1:15
HEATHER MACLEAN, Professor, Department of Civil Engineering; Graduate Faculty Member, School of the Environment
Life Cycle Approaches for Assessing Emerging Energy Technologies (abstract and bio)


1:45
KEVEN ROY, Doctoral candidate, Department of Physics and School of the Environment  
Climate Change and Rising Sea Levels: What Can We Learn from the Past?  (abstract and bio)


2:15
BETH JEAN EVANS, Doctoral candidate, Department of Political Science and School of the Environment
The REDD Mechanism (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) in Latin America: Why do Some Countries Oppose it and Why do Some Support it?  (abstract and bio)

2:45
ADONIS YATCHEW, Professor, Dept. of Economics; Co-Instructor of School of the Environment’s Big Ideas in Energy courses, Editor-in-Chief, The Energy Journal
Big Ideas: How an Interdisciplinary Approach Can Broaden Our Understanding of Energy and the Environment (abstract and bio)

 

3:15   PRESENTATION OF GRADUATE STUDENTS’ AWARDS

 

3:45  REFRESHMENTS

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ABSTRACTS & SPEAKERS' BIOS: 

 

1:15
HEATHER MACLEAN, Professor, Department of Civil Engineering; Graduate Faculty Member, School of the Environment
Life Cycle Approaches for Assessing Emerging Energy Technologies
Understanding the expected techno-economic and environmental performance of emerging energy technologies is critical to evaluate the potential of these technologies to be more sustainable than current technologies and result in net benefits for society. While sustainability is a commonly used term, it is not straightforward to determine whether a product/system is sustainable, or even, more sustainable than another. This talk will present various tools such as techno-economic analysis and life cycle assessment that can assist in evaluating sustainability, with a focus on applications of the tools to emerging energy technologies, i.e., those not yet in large-scale use, such as conversion processes for lignocellulosic biofuels. Various case studies will be discussed and insights from ‘lessons learned’ elucidated. The increasing use of these tools in not just informing public policy, but incorporating the tools within public policies (e.g., low carbon fuel standards), will also be examined. Strengths and limitations of the tools for analyzing emerging technologies and their interactions with public policies will be elaborated, ending with a suggested path forward.

Heather L. MacLean is a Professor in the Department of Civil Engineering at the University of Toronto. Professor MacLean’s expertise is in the development and application of life cycle-based approaches for the techno-economic and environmental evaluation of fuel/vehicle propulsion systems, as well as energy and other infrastructure systems. Over the last 15 years she has worked closely with the automotive, oil, electricity and biofuels industries as well as Federal and provincial/state governments. Her work on sustainable systems analysis was recognized through a Premier’s Research Excellence Award, 2014 Canada Mortgage and Housing Excellence in Education Award for Promotion of Sustainable Practices, and 2016 induction as a Fellow of the Engineering Institute of Canada. She has served on industry and government advisory committees in both Canada and the U.S. She holds a Ph.D. in Civil Engineering and Engineering and Public Policy from Carnegie Mellon University.

1:45
KEVEN ROY, Doctoral candidate, Department of Physics and School of the Environment  
Climate Change and Rising Sea Levels: What Can We Learn from the Past? 
Over the last 800,000 years or so, the Earth has undergone multiple glaciation-deglaciation cycles. At the Last Glacial Maximum (~21,000 years ago), massive ice sheets covered many parts of the world (including large fractions of North America and Northern Europe), and their growth and decay were accompanied by substantial changes in sea level. These large advancing and retreating ice sheets also left their mark on the solid Earth, not only because of their abrasive work on the landscape, but also by depressing and raising the land itself under their considerable weight, a process to which the Earth is still recovering today (and which is even affecting the rotation of the planet).
            Numerous records of the recovery of the Earth system following the last deglaciation exist, including accounts of past sea level at numerous locations around the world, various geophysical markers recording the retreat of the former ice sheets, as well as space-based measurements of the motion of the continental crust induced by this recovery. Interpreting these various observations enables one to develop models of the viscosity of the Earth's interior and of the history of ice sheet cover during the last glaciation-deglaciation cycle.
            This presentation will discuss a new model of this process, which makes use of newly available information from key sites in North America, and will provide an overview of the observational constraints listed above. It will also include a discussion of how this knowledge impacts our understanding of the present-day sea-level change and ice sheet melting induced by anthropogenic climate change.

Keven Roy is a doctoral candidate in Physics at the University of Toronto (Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Physics) and at the School of the Environment (Collaborative Program in Environmental Studies). His research concentrates on the study of the ongoing impact of the last deglaciation on the solid Earth, and on past sea level change and continental ice cover. He also has a strong interest in the communication of climate science and the interface between science and policy-making. He was among the students from the School of the Environment at the Paris Climate Conference (COP21) in December 2015, and he has performed a few interviews on Quebec radio discussing climate science and debunking some of the myths vehiculated by climate change “skeptics”. He holds a B.Sc. (Honours) in Physics from McGill University, and a M.Sc. in Physics from the University of Toronto.


2:15
BETH JEAN EVANS, Doctoral candidate, Department of Political Science and School of the Environment
The REDD Mechanism (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) in Latin America: Why do Some Countries Oppose it and Why do Some Support it? 
The Reducing Emissions from Avoided Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) mechanism is a multilateral, incentive-based mechanism through which developed countries can reduce emissions from deforestation by financing avoided deforestation activities in developing countries (in exchange for GHG emission reduction credits for sale on global carbon markets). Developing countries’ domestic responses to REDD have ranged from strong contestation to enthusiastic support, even amongst states with similar potential to gain from its implementation. This suggests a disjuncture between the structure of incentives at the multilateral level, and the expected outcomes at the country level. This research therefore investigates the following question: What explains the cross-country variance in how states have responded to the emerging REDD mechanism? More specifically, why Bolivia has so vocally rejected the REDD mechanism while Peru has been such a strong supporter? Drawing on international policy diffusion literature, this project shows how extant domestic interests and ideas about climate and forest governance act as cognitive ‘filters’ to shape each state’s interpretation of the risks and rewards of implementing REDD domestically, leading to a series of unanticipated policy outcomes.

Beth Jean Evans is a doctoral candidate at the University of Toronto (Department of Political Science and School for the Environment) where her research focuses on analyzing the forest-climate policy nexus within Latin America and the role of multilateral policy mechanisms linked to global carbon markets in facilitating cooperation between developed and developing countries. Beth has recently returned from fieldwork in Bolivia and Peru, where she conducted over 100 interviews with government officials, representatives from transnational and national civil society organizations, and indigenous leaders concerning the impact of global climate change mitigation efforts on domestic forest governance policy. She also holds a BA (Honours, with Distinction) in International Relations from the University of Toronto and an MA in International Development Studies from Dalhousie University.


2:45
ADONIS YATCHEW, Professor, Dept. of Economics; Co-Instructor of School of the Environment’s Big Ideas in Energy courses, Editor-in-Chief, The Energy Journal
Big Ideas: How an Interdisciplinary Approach Can Broaden Our Understanding of Energy and the Environment  
The interdisciplinary nature of energy issues calls for a ‘big ideas’ approach to both energy teaching and research. To devise a suitable framework, it is necessary to develop simple narratives for relevant disciplines based on big ideas found therein, and to link them to other disciplines. This short presentation focuses on energy markets, their successes and failures, and outlines basic remedies for the latter. It suggests that the tension between market forces and market failures is not only a focal point of today’s most pressing energy issues, but it also provides a central geopolitical narrative of the 20th century. The importance of understanding energy policy logic within a broader political context, both domestic and global, is also discussed.

Adonis Yatchew’s research focuses on econometrics, energy and regulatory economics. Since completing his Ph.D. at Harvard University, he has taught at the University of Toronto. He has also held visiting appointments at Trinity College, Cambridge, the University of Chicago and Australian National University. He has written a graduate level text on semiparametric regression techniques published by Cambridge University Press. He serves as Editor-in-Chief of The Energy Journal. Currently, he teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in energy economics, graduate courses in econometrics and ‘Big Ideas’ courses on Energy in the School of the Environment with colleagues in physics and classics.