Women in Science – Part of the Sis-STEM

Bright and passionate individuals in science fields are working to answer society’s most difficult questions and find solutions to our biggest challenges. The innovation, creativity and competitive advantage that comes with having a diverse workforce is more important than ever, yet women remain underrepresented in science.

In honour of International Day for Women and Girls in Science on February 11, our Chief Scientist, Dr. Fred Wrona invited women from across the department to talk about their work and share their experiences as scientists. Meet scientists Faye Wyatt and Karen Anderson. 

Karen Anderson, Parks Ecologist

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Karen Anderson, Parks Ecologist, Alberta Environment and Parks

Karen Anderson grew up in Sherwood Park, Alberta and completed her BSc in Environmental and Conservation Sciences with a double major in Conservation Biology and Land Reclamation at the University of Alberta. She is also currently an Agrologist-in-Training (AIT) and Biologist-in-Training (BIT).

Karen has been with Alberta Parks for 9 years and currently works as a Park Ecologist in the Kananaskis region, specifically the Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park.

Could you give our readers some insight into your role as a Park Ecologist?

My job as a Park Ecologist consists of a mix of office work and fieldwork throughout the Kananaskis region. My wonderful office is located in the grasslands of Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park where I predominately focus on environmental reviews for the South Saskatchewan Regional Plan as well any vegetation-related, monitoring or species-at-risk projects that are occurring in the region.

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Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park

How does your work as a Park Ecologist affect the lives of Albertans?

As part of the Alberta Parks team of ecologists, we try to facilitate meaningful and effective integration of scientific research into the Alberta Parks system, which benefits the ecological, social and economic health of the parks for Albertans. We promote science-based decision making to assist with balancing the Alberta Parks dual mandate of conservation and recreation.

Can you share a success story you have had while with Alberta Parks?

A success story out of Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park was when Alberta Parks worked with AltaLink to install an Osprey nesting platform in March 2018. The previous Osprey nest was removed within a private right-of-way in fall 2017 due to its proximity to a railroad. It was imperative that we provided alternative nesting habitat because Osprey had been returning to that nesting location for at least 15 years.

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Osprey nesting platform in Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park

Through a series of connections and very fortunate events, AltaLink generously provided the nesting platform structure and pole, the equipment, the installation vehicles and the staff time for the project. The day that we installed the structure was one of the coldest days in 2018, but the amazing staff from AltaLink, along with Alberta Parks staff, tirelessly put up the nesting platform. Fortunately, the osprey pair returned and successfully raised two chicks in summer 2018!

Dr. Faye Wyatt, Geospatial Scientist

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Dr. Faye Wyatt, Geospatial Scientist, Alberta Environment and Parks

 

Can you speak to your experience as a female scientist in the department?

I have had a really positive experience in the department, and I really appreciate that there are very strong female scientists in leadership positions to look to as role models. Being female has not affected my work, which I think speaks to how inclusive the department is. Our work as scientists and public servants is far more important than our gender, and I feel that opinion is shared by everyone I work with.

Tell us about your work as a geospatial scientist.

FayeWyatt2As a geospatial scientist, I am looking at ways to use geospatial science to support Alberta’s Environmental Science Program and the joint Canada-Alberta Oil Sands Monitoring Program. For example, this year I analyzed remotely sensed data of about 300 lakes across Alberta to understand how these lakes are changing over time. This project uses geographic information systems (GIS) to understand relationships between landscape drivers and lake characteristics, such as lake level, area, shape, climate regime, land use changes and location.

Have you experienced any “ah-ha” moments in your science career?

One big “ah-ha” moment was realizing that in order to understand a system, you have to experience it first-hand. Geospatial science often uses computer programs, models and satellite imagery to understand ecological processes and trends. By visiting a place in person, these processes start coming to life and help inform your analysis.

Another “ah-ha” moment was understanding the need to collaborate with others. There are many skilled scientists in the department, and when you start talking to experts in different fields you cross-fertilize ideas, leading to more integrative and better research. Finding ways to work together often advances the science much further than we would be able to on our own.

What advice would you give to someone wanting to get into the field of geospatial science?

FayeWyatt3To be successful in geospatial science, you have to be interested in the world around you. It is also important to think across disciplines since geospatial science is interdisciplinary by nature. One piece of advice for anyone wanting to become a geospatial scientist, and a scientist in general, is to learn a skill that you can apply to your discipline. For me, that meant learning remote sensing and geographic information systems

Student Action Challenge – One School’s Growing Success

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERARobert Thirsk High School has brought its foods program to life thanks to a student with a passion for stewardship, a hands-on natural sciences program and an application to Alberta Environment and Parks Climate and Environment Student Action Challenge. Continue reading

Women in Science – Part of the Sis-STEM – Shoma Tanzeeba

In honour of International Day for Women and Girls in Science on February 11, our Chief Scientist Dr. Fred Wrona invited women from across the department to talk about their work and share their experiences as scientists. This is the second of three interviews celebrating the fabulous females in this field.

Shoma Tanzeeba is a hydrologist working in Alberta’s South Saskatchewan Region.Shoma5
Continue reading

Women in Science – Part of the Sis-STEM – Tanya Rushcall

Bright and passionate individuals in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields are working to answer society’s most difficult questions and find solutions to our biggest challenges. The innovation, creativity and competitive advantage that comes with having a diverse workforce is more important than ever, yet women remain underrepresented in STEM.

In honour of International Day for Women and Girls in Science on February 11, our Chief Scientist Dr. Fred Wrona invited women from across the department to talk about their work and share their experiences as scientists. This is the first of three interviews celebrating the fabulous females in this field.

Meet Tanya Rushcall! An aquatic invasive species biologist with Alberta Environment and Parks.Tanya1 Continue reading

Grand Challenge seeks innovative project ideas

At the CCEMC Grand Challenge announcement

At the CCEMC Grand Challenge announcement

Today I had the pleasure of joining the Climate Change Emissions Management Corporation for the launch of the first phase of the Grand Challenge, a $35 million initiative seeking innovative ideas from around the world that will create new, carbon-based products and markets here in Alberta.

This is an exciting announcement for Alberta. This program is expected to identify multiple technologies that could deliver significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions by transforming carbon from a liability into an asset.

Accepting submissions

Ideas from around the world are invited – but they must be applicable to Alberta. Together we can come up with solutions for our province that can be shared and used globally. That’s what makes this a Grand Challenge.

There will be three phases of funding totalling $35 million over a five-year period:

  • Phase one offers grants of $500,000 for up to 20 projects – submissions are due July 15 and winners will be announced in March 2014.
  • Phase two will provide $3 million each for up to five finalists that have successfully advanced their technologies.
  • The final phase will identify a winner of the Grand Challenge out of second phase submissions – the grand winner will receive a $10 million grant to assist in establishing and commercializing their solution.

The challenge of clean energy production is a global issue – one that no single jurisdiction can tackle alone. It’s extremely important that we continue to invest in new and better ideas – and our early adoption of innovative technologies and policies will help pave the way for a cleaner future.

We have a responsibility to continuously improve how we extract, process and deliver energy to meet an ever-increasing global demand. And clean energy development in one of the biggest opportunities, and one of the biggest challenges, of our time.

We know that Albertans, Canadians and the world have high expectations that we develop our natural resources in a responsible and sustainable way, and we intend to meet those expectations. A large part of our focus has been, and will continue to be, on research and science. I’m proud to say that Alberta has long recognized the importance of innovation and technology to help us develop our resources more sustainably.

As the world marketplace becomes more and more competitive, clean energy security and energy affordability continue to emerge as key issues of concern. The Grand Challenge is an ideal way to showcase the clean energy investment opportunities our dynamic province has to offer.

More than $181 million has already been invested by the CCEMC into more than 49 clean energy projects. It is rewarding to see the fund as a critical mechanism helping to drive innovation as we broaden our focus by exploring and investing in technology that can enable a new carbon reality. The Grand Challenge is an opportunity to further our clean energy story and enhance our competitiveness and global leadership through investing in innovation.

I encourage and invite those interested to submit their innovative ideas that will further enhance responsible and sustainable natural resource development. On behalf of Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development, I want to thank the Climate Change and Emissions Management Corporation for the great work they have done and continue to do in our province.

More information can be found at: www.ccemcgrandchallenge.com

– Diana McQueen, Minister of Environment and Sustainable Resource Development