KAMLOOPS—Genome British Columbia (Genome BC) has pledged $250,000 towards the creation of a Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) Industrial Research Chair position at Thompson Rivers University (TRU). Creating a NSERC research chair position supports the development of industry-based solutions to environmental problems and is a first step towards the creation of a Centre for Ecosystem Reclamation at TRU—the first of its kind in Canada.
Growing public perception of the impact of human activity on the environment, human health, economic well-being, biodiversity and standards of living has led to an increased demand for advanced ecosystem mitigation and restoration.
“Resource industries helped build the province of British Columbia,” said Dr. Lauchlan Fraser, full professor and candidate for the NSERC Industrial Chair. “It is appropriate that we can now use modern genetic tools to help solve environmental disturbances caused by mining, forestry and ranching and the challenges of restoration in the face of climate change.” Dr. Fraser is the inaugural Director and research leader of the Centre for Ecosystem Reclamation.
Industry-specific regulations exist for the mining, oil and gas, forestry and transportation industries and the Centre for Ecosystem Reclamation at TRU would add innovative strategies to restoration management plans. Using genetic tools to establish biodiversity and ecosystem function baselines pre-disturbance is an example of such innovation: this baseline would be used during restoration to meet ecosystem recovery benchmarks. More effective reclamation even plays a role in climate change as mine sites, specifically water levels and longevity of species, will be affected by changes in climate.
“Genome BC is committed to investing in key sectors of British Columbia- mining and energy play a vital role in our social and economic fabric,” says Dr. Alan Winter, President and CEO of Genome BC. “We are pleased to be leading the way for this important position: Dr. Fraser is an ideal candidate to be the first NSERC Industrial Research Chair at TRU.”
“This proposed centre represents the next logical step for continued excellence in restoration ecology at TRU,” said Alan Shaver, TRU President and Vice-Chancellor. “This investment by Genome BC into reclamation research will take restoration and climate change ecology to the next level at TRU and have a positive impact on the tools available to ensure the environmental sustainability of our region—one of TRU’s major strategic priorities. The results of this research will be of interest nationally and globally.”
About Thompson Rivers University:
At Thompson Rivers University nearly 26,000 students study on campuses in Kamloops and Williams Lake or in distance or online courses and programs through Open Learning. From traditional academics to trades, from certificates to graduate degrees, TRU offers over 140 on-campus programs and 60 Open Learning programs to choose from. TRU’s main campus in the heart of Kamloops welcomes a diverse student population that is over 10 percent Aboriginal and 10 percent international, enriching an inclusive community culturally and academically. TRU’s modern combination of excellent teaching, community-inspired research, flexibility and student support create an environment where research, creation and innovation thrive—and so does its students. www.tru.ca