Early Career Affiliate Members

Early Career Researchers are critical to the interdisciplinary environmental research that happens across all colleges of UofG, as well as essential to various outreach and knowledge mobilization initiatives that build bridges between academia and society. GIER is keen on recognizing and supporting the many contributions of graduate students and postdocs to the study of the environment and thus provides a virtual space for fruitful interactions among early career researchers from all disciplinary backgrounds.

Below you can read more about our current Early Career Affiliates. If you are a graduate student or postdoc and ever wondered what your peers are working on beyond the walls of your own building (or even across the halls) and would like to see more cross-collegiate interactions in environmental research, we would love to have you join us! Please email us at info.gier@uoguelph.ca  

Angela Asuncion

M.Sc. Rural Planning and Development in International Development Studies

Alongside a historically significant Canadian transnational mining presence in the Philippines, state-sponsored militaries protecting the industry have been the cause of over 60 deaths of Indigenous leaders and the displacement of over 40,000 Indigenous peoples since 2010. At the intersection of mining, environmental governance, and human rights, my research examines community agency in areas where large-scale Canadian mining corporations operate in the Philippines. Embedded within the SSHRC international initiative “Global Minerals Local Communities”, my research aims to advance polarized debates arguing for or against mining, towards understanding the mechanisms that can enhance corporate accountability and community self-determination in the mining industry. Twitter: @angelactivist, website

Asif Ali

Ph.D. Environmental Engineering

My research focus is towards carbon capture, sequestration and utilization. The proposed research includes the synthesis and characterization of a range of minerals in laboratory. These minerals, in presence of CO2, reduce carbon presence with the formation of carbonates. The performance of these synthetic minerals will be assessed based on their carbon uptake. It is aimed to utilize these tested minerals by mixing them with agriculture soils for enhanced yield productivity and reduced carbon footprint. Let’s work for cleaner and greener planet Earth!

Ben Finley

Ph.D. Critical Studies in Improvisation

Within the web of climate change challenges, I’m interested in how creative music and music festivals might provide compelling models and methods for cultural environmentalism. The music I cultivate with others as a performer-composer/bassist and residency facilitator often embraces the particular life experiences of its participants, entanglements of place, improvisation, text, voices, multiple tunings, electro-acoustic worlds, learning from/with the biosphere, intercultural exchange, co-learning/collaborations, ecological partnerships, and a plurality of compositional frameworks. I grew up on a music festival farm (the Westben Centre for Connection & Creativity), where I first became fascinated with how diverse musical worlds can connect communities. Part of my doctoral work is to co-vision and implement a long-term environmental sustainability plan with Westben. Please get in touch if any of these ideas resonate!

Dani Nowosad

Ph.D. Integrative Biology

My research uses novel DNA methodologies to document and assess biodiversity, phylogeography, and risk of invasive freshwater invertebrates into the Canadian Middle Arctic. I work closely with the Centre for Biodiversity Genomics and Polar Knowledge Canada, on this project. Using DNA barcoding, we are creating a massive library containing all life in the Arctic for a project called Arctic BIOSCAN, to improve our understanding of overall biodiversity in the Arctic, and monitor shifts in animal and plant communities in response to climate change. My role within this project is to travel to Cambridge Bay, Nunavut and document freshwater invertebrates to create maps of the areas colonized by these invertebrates following the last glacial maximum and create predictive models of the risk of invasive biting black fly species colonizing this area in the future. 

Twitter: @danimanitoba1, Instagram: @danimanitoba.

Emily Smit

Ph.D. Geography

Motivated by the urgency of climate change mitigation and a ‘deep ecology’ positionality, my dissertation focus lies at the intersection of ecological justice, energy transitions, and landscape change. I take a posthumanist approach to spatial planning and use counter-mapping as a methodology to give Nature a voice in land-use decision making. Blog

Jamie Goltz

M.Sc. Epidemiology

My project is an extension of the iAM.AMR project with a team at the Public Health Agency of Canada, focusing on antimicrobial resistance along the agri-food pathway. It aims to examine extended-spectrum beta-lactamase-producing Enterobacteriaceae specifically, to evaluate how Canadians can be exposed to these resistant bacteria and which exposures are higher risk than others. I am using a One Health approach in this research to help understand the interconnection of resistant bacteria transmission between humans, animals, and the environment, especially in the agri-food system, to provide a more holistic understanding of the human exposures. Twitter: @jamiegoltz.

Kim Barton

M.Sc. Family Relations and Human Development

I am involved in several research projects, most of which are related to early childhood education/educators. For my masters thesis I will be working with early childhood educators who identify as having mental illness(es), aiming to understand their experience working in the context of Ontario’s early learning and care sector. For this, I will be utilizing a Mad Studies lens and integrating policy considerations. I am also interested in arts-based and nature-based pedagogy in early learning and care, as well as fostering inclusive, equitable, and anti-biased learning environments (and how these concepts intersect with each other). Twitter: @kimpbarton.

Kira Borden

Postdoc Environmental Sciences

I am an agroecologist and specializes in plant ecology and biogeochemistry. I centre my research on diversified agroecosystems in temperate and tropical regions. I received my PhD from the University of Toronto, where my research in Ghana investigated how growing cocoa trees (that produce the cocoa beans for chocolate) with other tree species in agroforestry systems impact cocoa tree function and delivery of ecosystem services. My current research at the University of Guelph is focused on understanding the mechanisms of how crop diversification can reduce greenhouse gas emissions and help mitigate climate change.

Olivia Blumenthal

MSc. Environment Science

My master’s research focuses on the mechanisms of microbially driven greenhouse emissions in agroecosystems. I am currently part of CREATE Climate-Smart Soils, a program aimed at training scholars to understand the mitigation of soil greenhouse gas emissions, as not only technological and ecological challenges, but as social, political, and economic ones as well. I have spent the better part of the last decade working as an artist, songwriter and community educator. As an environmental scientist and artist, I am inspired by collaborating with non-humans and by a past, present and future where we have reciprocal relationships with the earth. Website.

Qurat Dar

MSc. Engineering

I am part of a research team focusing on engineering for social justice (E4SJ) that investigates ways to foster social justice through engineering education at the university level. My interests also include the connections between science, engineering, and the arts and ways to explore them through my research and arts practices. I am Mississauga’s Youth Poet Laureate 2021-2023.

Sara Stricker

Ph.D. Plant Agriculture

I am researching the management of a fungal disease on onions in Ontario. I hope to provide recommendations for sustainable management practices. My research focuses on real-world outcomes of understanding epidemiology and etiology of plant diseases. I am passionate about education and outreach and hope to continue to conduct research which will benefit growers, consumers, and the environment. Twitter: @SaraMStricker, TikTok

Shelby Bohn

PhD Integrative Biology

I am a PhD candidate in the department of Integrative Biology in the College of Biological Science at the University of Guelph. My research combines my interests in animal behaviour and physiology to understand how hamsters use their environment and body condition to make decisions about food hoarding. Why do some hamsters hoard more food than others? Does this have anything to do with food availability, or hormones that tell them how much energy they have? I love research, but I also love explaining the process & results! Most scientific research is funded by taxpayers, and that means as scientists we have a responsibility to communicate what we’ve learned back to the people who have financially supported us. This is an exciting opportunity for me, and I love to create visuals that help my colleagues and me to explain our discoveries to people who want to understand them. Instagram: @misc.bones, website.

Vadim Karatayev

Postdoc Environmental Sciences

I investigate how community processes and human-environment interactions structure ecosystems by combining dynamical models with field data. In the process, I explore fundamental questions concerning resilience theory and landscape dynamics as well as applied science questions ranging from invasive species impacts in aquatic systems to promoting conservation in human societies.
Twitter: @Vkaratayev

The banner photo shows the Mind Map that Early Career Affiliates created for GIER’s first Annual Symposium.

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