Brock Students’ research selected for national competition


Eight Brock University students have made the first cut in a national competition of student research. “Science, Action” is a competition hosted by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC). They are a major source of funding for Brock research as well as research across the nation. The contest features videos of student’s research projects that are funded by NSERC.

75 entries were chosen for the first round, including eight from Brock students. Until March 2, people have a chance to view the videos (which are all posted on Youtube), and the 25 videos with the greatest number of views will move on to the judging round. At that point, judges will select the top 15 entries, each of whom will win prizes. The first place prize is a cheque for $3,500.

Among entries from Brock is Earth Sciences’ student Joe Viscek’s research on the effects of climate change on wildfires in Canada’s northern territories, and how wildfires affect the hydrology of the ecosystems.

“The findings of this research program will enhance our knowledge of how warming northern climate and associated landscape changes and disturbance are influencing lake hydrology. The work is part of a broader research project in the region which is using a multi-proxy, paleo-ecological approach to determine long-term (i.e., 2,000 years) records of drought, fire and water quality to inform future policy planning in the north,” explains Viscek.

His classmate and competitor, Dana Harris, is studying “how cellular development and growth of Jack Pine responds to weather in the northern portion of the Boreal forest.” Her project is called “Jack Pine Growth, NT.” Similarly to Viscek, her research is focused in northern locations of Canada.

“I have received an overwhelming amount of interest in my research from this competition,” Harris said.

“Mainly from northern residents, which was something I set out to accomplish when I signed up.” She credits this interest largely to the “Science, Action” competition, as it is a way to reach people from all over the country and share her research. “This research will be important in understanding how growth of this species is occurring in northern Canada, and will allow for more refined climate reconstructions using tree ring analysis … using proxy records, like tree rings, can work to extend these records as a result of the climatic controls on tree growth.

“The NSERC video contest is a great opportunity for us to showcase our Brock scientific research in an informative, one-minute promo that everyone can understand and appreciate,” explains Viscek.

“This competition has already provided some growth to my research. I have now connected with several groups in the Yellowknife area who have expressed their interest in the results from my research and other avenues for disseminating my research to the community.”

Other entries from Brock include Matthew Mueller’s “Cell Talk,” Zakia Dahi and Jina Nanayakkara’s “DNA: A Mobile Molecule,” Sarah Henderson’s “Memory and Intent,” Brent Thorne’s “Old Crow’s New Arctic” and Taylor Lidster’s “On the Fly.” .

You can also search Youtube with the title of a video followed by “NSERC” to view the competition videos.

“We need your viewership to help push Brock into the final stages of the contest,” says Viscek. “It is quite the honour to have made it through the first stages of the competition. More than anything, I am excited to help promote the fantastic scientific research that Brock is doing in the north.”

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