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People & Culture

Igniting passion, sharing science and celebrating success

Since International Polar Year, The W. Garfield Weston Foundation has acted as a catalyst for northern research, funding over 90 scientists at the postdoctoral, Ph.D. and master’s level from universities across Canada

  • Nov 30, 2012
  • 325 words
  • 2 minutes
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Igor Lehnherr spends a bone-chilling amount of time waist-deep in frigid Arctic water adding to his growing body of environmental research. By analyzing sediment and water chemistry, Lehnherr can develop a picture of several hundred years of lake environments and then predict reactions to imminent and ongoing climate change. This 32-year-old postdoctoral researcher from the University of Waterloo is representative of a new generation of researchers who are able to support their passion for the Arctic and northern science thanks to private funding. “I’ve already been able to spend time in the Arctic and will return again next year,” says Lehnherr. “I would not have been able to do this without the funding from The W. Garfield Weston Foundation.”

Lehnherr is not alone. Naomi Harms, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Saskatchewan, is studying the deaths of thousands of eider ducks in Canada’s North. A Weston Foundation scholarship has enabled her to study the spread of avian cholera among these Arctic sea ducks in multiple northern locations, especially at the largest breeding grounds on East Bay Island, Nunavut. Working closely with Inuit communities and other researchers, Harms is helping determine the potential sources of bacteria that trigger widespread outbreaks of the disease.

Enabling northern research is a principal tenet of the Weston Foundation’s Science in Canada’s North program, and its support to university students is a means of ensuring the continuation of a rich tradition of scientific enquiry in that region. “Looking beyond IPY, The W. Garfield Weston Foundation had the foresight to help keep the momentum going,” says Peter Geller, ACUNS president.

Since the inception of its northern research program during International Polar Year, the Weston Foundation has funded 79 postdoctoral, Ph.D. and master’s level students from Canadian universities in the early stages of their Arctic science careers.

In time, these students will join Canada’s senior scientific ranks, having contributed to our collective body of northern scientific knowledge.

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