Small Grants Program

GIER’s Small Grants Program seeks to promote interdisciplinary research and scholarship relating to any aspect of the environment among investigators from all seven Colleges at the University of Guelph. Environmental research and scholarship is construed broadly, and refers to work that examines: environmental processes, functions, services, and values; environmental technologies and technological impacts on the environment; environmental policy formation and analysis; environmental health; human relationships with, and cultural understandings of the environment; and artistic engagement with the environment, among others. While all areas of environmental research are eligible for this program, for 2021-22, GIER is particularly interested in proposals that address one or more of the following strategic areas: 

  • Human-Environment Systems: Humans can both positively and negatively affect environmental systems. GIER is committed to better understanding the two-way interactions between humans and the environment, including—but not restricted to—problems around invasive species, climate change mitigation, land-use management, and pollution control. 
  • Indigenous Environmental Research and Engagement: GIER acknowledges the importance of Indigenous knowledge, perspectives, and values on environmental stewardship and hence looks forward to cultivating stronger relationships with Indigenous scholars and communities to advance reconciliation and decolonization initiatives at the University of Guelph. 
  • Environmental Arts meets Environmental Sciences: Society is confronting unprecedented environmental challenges, but practitioners have come to an agreement that most environmental challenges are at their core human issues. Artistic invention can empower individuals and societies to understand the past, to imagine futures, and to create empathy and resilience. GIER is interested in projects, both scholarly and artistic, that address these areas. 
  • Environmental Communication & Knowledge Translation: We are faced with many ‘wicked’ environmental problems which are interrelated and go beyond traditional scientific fields. To tackle these challenges, scientists need to engage with those outside their field or profession. GIER is interested in research projects that engage in new ways across these disciplinary boundaries and/or with the public or policy-makers. 

Full-time tenured or tenure-track faculty (including Emeritus) at the University of Guelph may apply for the program.

For questions or information on GIER, please email

Small Grants Program 2021-22

For its 2021-22 Small Grants Program competition, GIER has recognized six interdisciplinary research projects that tackle human-environmental crises with scientific rigour, creativity, and empathy. These are our 2021-22 Small Grants Program awardees:

  • Profs. Lauren Grant and Andrew Papadopoulos, Department of Population Medicine, and Kieran O’Doherty, Department of Psychology, will study food- and water-borne diseases in Canada through both social and environmental protection lenses. 

  • Profs Andrea Bradford, School of Engineering, and Brittany Luby, Department of History, will work on the Manomin Project, a research initiative to restore ancestral biodiversity of crops and revitalize cultural foodways in Anishinaabe-Aki. 

  • Profs. Heather Murphy and Andrew Papadopoulos, Department of Population Medicine, and Ed McBean, School of Engineering, will be improve ecosystem management and water quality in recreational areas by developing innovative sampling methods integrating engineering, microbiology, and public health policy. 

  • Prof. Ryan Prosser, School of Environmental Sciences, and collaborators will determine the effects of petroleum hydrocarbon spills on biodiversity of marine bivalve species, specifically those of cultural, ecological, and economic importance to the Heiltsuk Nation. 

  • Profs. Ritu Chaturvedi, School of Computer Science, Jackie Cockburn, Department of Geography, Environment, and Geomatics, and Tamara Small, Department of Political Science, will evaluate public understanding of climate change and ecosystem vulnerability by studying social media alongside hazardous environmental events. 

  • Prof. Catherine Bush, English and Theatre Studies along with Profs. Shoshanah Jacobs and Alex Smith of Integrative Biology, Amanda Boetzkes of Contemporary Art History and Theory, Emmanuelle Arnaud of the School of Environmental Science, Jana Levison of the School of Engineering, Jeji Varghese of the Department of Department of Sociology & Anthropology, and Philip Loring of Geography, Environment and Geomatics, will collaboratively determine how to narrate the truths of climate science and inspire change towards conservation and sustainability of both humans and their environment.  

Small Grants Program 2020-2021

For its 2020-21 Small Grants Program competition, GIER has recognized seven interdisciplinary research projects that tackle human-environmental crises with scientific rigour, creativity, and empathy. These are our 2021-21 Small Grants Program awardees:

  • Profs. Brittany Luby (History) and Andrea Bradford (Engineering) will further develop the Manomin Project, a community-engaged research initiative committed to restoring ancestral crops and revitalizing cultural foodways in Anishinaabe-Aki.
  • Profs. Ryan Norris, Elizabeth Gow (Integrative Biology), and Lee Niel (Population Medicine) will assess the costs and benefits of unsupervised outdoor access for cats thought a combination of ecology, welfare science, and custom-built technology.
  • Profs. Sheri Longboat (Environmental Design and Rural Development) and James Longstaffe (Environmental Sciences) will work with the Oneida Nation of the Thames community to integrate knowledge and build capacity around environmental risk assessments.
  • Profs. Olaf Berke (Population Medicine) and Lorna Deeth (Mathematics and Statistics) will assess how disparities in the socio-economic environment can cause and amplify health inequalities during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Prof. Jesse Popp (Environmental Sciences) will evaluate best practices in environmental monitoring to develop more holistic frameworks that Indigenous stewards and Western scientists can use to foster meaningful and respectful collaborations.
  • Profs. Shoshanah Jacobs and Karl Cottenie (Integrative Biology) will develop Squirrel Life, a citizen science project that provides experiential learning opportunities, generates valuable monitoring data, and encourages people to connect with their environment.
  • Profs. Stefan Kremer, Dan Gillis (Computer Science) and Geneviève Ali (Environmental Science) will design and test machine learning models to predict river flows and floods and engage with relevant stakeholders to effectively mobilize their findings.

Small Grants Program 2019-2020

With an investment over CAD 100,000, GIER held a Small Grants Program competition in 2019-2020, calling for projects that support the development of interdisciplinary environmental research. Our congratulations to all 2019-20 awardees! We look forward to seeing the impact these new projects will have on the way we understand and manage our environment.

Intrigued about what kind of projects got selected? Scroll down for an overview of each project!

  • Dr. Michael Denk (Chemistry) received funding to develop a new green approach to remove chlorinated hydrocarbons (e.g. pesticides, heavy metals) from water and soil. Dr. Denk’s project will allow for the remediation of contaminated water and soil. Dr. Denk will collaborate with experts in Engineering, Agriculture, and Toxicology.
  • Drs. Craig Johnson (Political Science) and Kirby Calvert (Geography, Environment and Geomatics) are working together to establish an international network of researchers to study the ecological and social impact of the rapidly expanding global supply chain for solar panels, wind turbines, and chemical batteries. This is critical as society balances climate change mitigation with the impacts of renewable energy technologies.
  • Dr. Amanda Boetzkes (Fine Arts and Music) will be working in Narsaq, Greenland to convene cultural theorists, Inuit-based organizations, geologists, glaciologists and other climate scientists, in order to theorize the political rationales and ethical dispositions that inform cultural responses to climate change. This project will include intermodal forms of site-specific knowledge exchange and public engagement with Greenland-based organizations.
  • Drs. Stefan Kremer (Computer Science) and Genevieve Ali (Environmental Science) are finding a synergy between their areas of expertise (machine learning and ecohydrology, respectively) to design a new machine learning model to predict the flows and floods of the Grand River. They state flood prediction needs to be rooted not only in hard science (physical processes) but also in social science (effectively communicating prediction results to stakeholders).
  • Drs. Philip Loring (Geography, Environment and Geomatics) and Nicolas Brunet (Environmental Design and Rural Development) will be working with the Shawanaga First Nation to explore the impacts of fish hatchery methods. This project combines the study of cultural practices, food security, natural resource management, and Indigenous law to improve declining walleye stocks in Georgian Bay, Ontario.
  • Drs. Thomas McIlwraith (Sociology and Anthropology), Shoshanah Jacobs and Sarah Adamowicz (Integrative Biology), Nicolas Brunet (Environmental Design and Rural Development), and Dan Gillis (Computer Science) are coming together to establish a Northern research hub at the UoG. These researchers aim to increase the quality and breadth of research conducted in northern and arctic areas, engaging researchers and Indigenous peoples and communities directly.
  • Drs. Claudia Wagner-Riddle and Kari Dunfield (Environmental Sciences), Helen Hambly (Envirnmental Design and Rural Development), and Alfons Weersink (Food, Agricultural and Resource Economics) are teaming up with other universities and more than 20 stakeholders to create awareness of the importance of soil health and soil wealth. They aim to engage scholars from disciplines not traditionally involved in soil research and promote inter-disciplinary research on soil through networking and increased awareness.
  • Catherine Bush (English and Theatre Studies) will work in collaboration with researchers from Integrative Biology, Geography, Anthropology, and Art History and Theory to explore the role of imagination in the way we view and respond to the climate crisis. Professor Bush proposes that it is through the collaboration of arts practitioners, social scientists and natural scientists that we can most effectively imagine climate futures and discover new ways of interacting in the present.

Banner photo credit: Diane Borsato.

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