Postcard from Brazil: UBC PhD student travels to Southern Amazonia to find the water footprint of local farms

Following its colonization of large areas of natural vegetation, Brazil is one of the largest soybean producers on the planet. Given the intense seasonal rains that Southern Amazonia receives between October and May, farmers can grow soybean without any irrigation; however, this may change given that climatic conditions and atmospheric feedback from deforestation could decrease regional rainfall.  

Keeping an eye on climate change

Sina was beginning his program at the University of Northern BC’s Natural Resources and Environment Studies department when he was given the opportunity to apply his specialized knowledge of watershed management to an Accelerate project for lumber giant Canfor.

“We have a pulp mill in Prince George that draws water from the Nechako River,” says Mike Bradley, Director of Sustainability for Canfor Pulp. “That means the water level and its clarity are very important to us. We were concerned about how changes over time would affect our business.”

Communicating science

“I just knew that there was a better way,” he said. “There had to be a way to engage students using technology.”

Rowan created simulation and visualization tools and shared them with faculty at the university. Suitably impressed, several professors incorporated the new technology into the geology curriculum. Not one to be satisfied with the status quo, Rowan revamped the tools after graduation and put them online. His tools are now used at universities worldwide to help educate and engage budding geologists.

Stepping into industry

Award Winner Interview: Emily Morris

Can you tell us a bit about the research you did through Mitacs Accelerate that led to you winning the 2013 Mitacs Award for Outstanding Innovation – Master’s?

Gaining skills for the present, making connections for the future

But UBC PhD student Samuel Antoine says this is exactly the kind of big-picture thinking that academics need to succeed. Thanks to Mitacs Step, Sam has been able to access a wide range of similar courses that will help his career.

It started when Sam was talking with his academic supervisor in UBC’s School of Population and Public Health about opportunities to continue his research.

Harnessing the power of the ocean

His supervisor, Dr. Bradley Buckham, recommended that Clayton apply for a Mitacs Accelerate internship and suggested coastal engineering consultancy Triton Consultants, as the industry partner. 

“When I approached Triton, they were hesitant at first as they were a small company; but when I mentioned the co-funding provided by Mitacs, my internship with them became feasible,” Clayton explained.

Where are they now? Former Accelerate intern spreads the word about Mitacs

During Juan’s postdoc, he undertook four Mitacs Accelerate internships with FORRx Consulting Inc., a Vancouver-based firm specializing in ecosystem modeling. Juan credits his Accelerate experience with giving him a significant professional jumpstart:

“The funding was key to developing my academic career, my relationships, and my understanding of the use and transfer of my research for real-life and business situations.”

Postcard from Brazil: UBC undergrad takes her research to Curitiba

Currently in my third year in the Applied Animal Biology program at the University of British Columbia, I have always wanted to expand my horizons by spending time overseas.

I learned about the Mitacs Globalink Research Award through a program advisor and decided to apply. This research award provides travel and accommodation funding for undergraduate and graduate students to conduct research outside of Canada.

Positioned for Success

However, his experience led to a change in perspective. “In a big company, there isn’t as much opportunity to make decisions that lead to improvements in a technology.”

Rohit had come to Canada in 2012 to pursue an MBA focused on entrepreneurship at the University of Victoria. During his program, he undertook a Mitacs Accelerate internship with Limespot, a small e-commerce start-up with five employees, a far cry from his experience at Blackberry.

Shielding the brain from injury

Despite the use of helmets, contact sports such as football and hockey account for a high number of TBIs. Given the popularity of these sports, how can we improve the players’ safety?

Taking up the challenge of helmet safety

It was 2010 and Daniel Abram had started a postdoctoral fellowship in mechatronic systems engineering at Simon Fraser University. Originally from Iran, Daniel was challenged by his supervisor, Dr. Farid Golnaraghi, to find a way to make sport helmets safer.

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