Investigating the Geochemistry of Selenium (Se) in the Residual from Biological Wastewater Treatment

Although selenium is an essential element for human and animal health, it has a narrow concentration range before becoming toxic. Industrial practices, such as mining, can result in elevated levels of selenium to be introduced into surface water bodies, hence, treating mine processing water and wastewater is commonly done to reduce the potential for environmental impacts. Bacterially mediated redox processes are currently used in the mining industry to remove selenium from wastewater. The byproduct of this treatment is a solid state residual which contains high concentrations of selenium.

Embedding Project

The Embedding Project is a public-benefit research project that relies on strong social science research methods to bring together thoughtful sustainability intrapreneurs from across industries and around the world, and harnesses their collective knowledge to develop rigorous and practical guidance that benefits everyone. This internship will offer an MBA student the opportunity to gain experience in both practice and research, while learning from leaders in the field.

Using structure-from-motion and 3D analysis to visualize habitat complexity and dynamics of glass sponge reefs in British Columbia

Glass sponges build their skeletons out of silicon dioxide (i.e. glass). While these animals are found all over the world in very deep water, they only exist shallower than 50 m in a few places in the world. In very rare cases, new sponges grow on top of existing, dead sponges and form reefs in a similar manner to coral reefs. As with coral reefs, the structure formed by the reefs is ecologically important because it provides complex habitat and shelter for other animals.

Sound localization for acoustic monitoring of bird populations in response to fire and oil extraction in Alberta’s oil sands region

Sound localization involves the triangulation of the location of a sound source by recording it on multiple microphones. One potential application of sound localization technology is to monitor the movements of vocalizing animals passively, without the need for a human observer. This project aims to further develop and test sound localization technology, then to apply the technology to monitor the movements and behaviours of birds in Alberta’s oilsands region in the vicinity of inactive well pads in burned and unburned areas.

A new approach to assessing the potential for rockfall and landslide hazards

Rockfalls and landslides are a common hazard throughout Canada and have a significant impact on transport corridors, infrastructure associated with natural resources, and in public areas. The ability to determine the potential for slope failures is often limited either by the lack of a detailed assessment of the slope, or by the understanding of the processes driving failure. The latter is particularly limiting when considering small-scale movements, which potentially indicate subsequent, larger failures.

Characterizing wetlands of different restoration ages in central Alberta using drone-based information (an extension to current Mitacs project: Advanced mapping techniques applied to wetland drone base information; IT08204)

Wetlands provide important ecosystem services to human communities, such as groundwater recharge, storing floodwater, and supplying fishery resources. In Alberta, wetlands cover ~21% of the province, forming one of the Canada’s largest wetlands reserves; however, many of these wetlands have been impacted or lost through human activities. Over the past 30 years, there have been efforts made by the government and partner agencies to restore wetlands, but little is known about the rate of recovery and the state of these restored wetlands, relative to a natural reference condition..


The research problem to be addressed is the diversion of organic waste from landfills which, currently, in addition of using the limited space available, generate polluting leachate and greenhouse gases. On the other hand, landfilling organics represent a wasted opportunity to recover valuable chemical and energy resources. The internship will focus on the investigation of the potential of pyrolysis technology to address such problems, by creating opportunities to convert the waste into value-added chemicals and fuels.

Evaluation of the accuracy of the in-situ individual particle sizing technology

The research objectives are to better understand the limitations of a new particle sizing system in terms of accuracy on particle size, of accuracy on size distribution, of accuracy on particle concentration and finally of size dynamic range. During the research project, the sources of the limitations will be identified and improvements to the technology will be proposed. State-of-the-art equipment for the generation of particles with known sizes and concentrations available at the University of Alberta will be used for the characterization of the technology.

Cumulative Environmental Effects from Unconventional Oil and Gas Activity in the Liard River Watershed: Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Freshwater Extraction, and Risk of Cross-Contamination

The Liard River Watershed covers 275 000 square kilometres in Northeastern British Columbia. This vast area is increasingly being developed for its underlying shale gas resources using hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”). However, there are few studies investigating the environmental impacts of such activity in this vast area. Fossil fuels and freshwater are two of Canada’s most important natural resources, and therefore an understanding of the water-energy nexus is paramount.

Local community engagement: White Butte Eco-museum Heritage Ecology Project

Ecomuseums are primarily community-based endeavors that respond to local needs while concentrating on sustainability. They help guide and develop democratic projects that focus on connections to local history and heritage, which include local physical geographic features, natural resources, natural habitats and agricultural practices. This research concentrates on creating an educational program to be delivered on a local conservation easement in southern Saskatchewan.