Research Fund

 

To help facilitate high-level research at the University of Toronto, the Centre for Urban Environments (CUE) is pleased to provide funding on a competitive basis to graduate students, post-doctoral researchers, and faculty affiliated with CUE. Applications can be submitted by any CUE member based at the University of Toronto Mississauga, regardless of discipline, so long as the proposed research advances CUE’s mission of being a leader in urban environmental research and sustainability. Research that bridges across traditional disciplines is particularly encouraged, with the awarding of proposals spread equally across the social and natural sciences.

The maximum amount of funding available per project is $1,500. Additional information regarding the application process and required documentation is available here. Those interested in applying are also encouraged to consult our list of past winners.  A call for proposals will occur in January each year with a February deadline. The next submission deadline will be March 9, 2020.

If you are not currently a member of CUE and would like to be affiliated with the centre, please contact the Director at cue@utoronto.ca.

2020 Winners

Project title: Impacts of urbanization on freshwater insect metacommunities

Project description: In an increasingly urbanized world, wetlands provide essential services to cities. Stormwater management ponds (SWMPs) play a critical role in collecting excess rainfall and pollutants, reducing flooding, and acting as buffers to filter the surrounding environment. These ponds are often treated as aquatic solutions to terrestrial problems yet they may also provide discrete novel habitat for aquatic biodiversity including aquatic insects, which are important indicators of ecosystem health. This poject will assess whether there are associations between aquatic insect community composition, local environmental stressors, and species dispersal and life history traits in urban and non-urban stormwater ponds. Ilia will use metacommunity principles to inform management of these urban wetlands. This work may help to inform freshwater conservation frameworks in cities and provide insight into freshwater community responses to human-induced environmental change.

Student: Ilia Ferzoco

Supervisor: Prof. Shannon McCauley 

 

Project title: Urban neighbourhoods and the double burden of disease in low- and middle-income countries

Project description: Using Ghana as a case study, this research will examine how rapidly evolving urban neighbourhoods in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) are impacting health. Even though many LMICs are still grappling with the effects of infectious diseases (IDs) such as HIV and malaria, growing evidence of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) including stroke, hypertension and diabetes significantly impact health outcomes. Scholars have described the co-occurrence of both infectious diseases (IDs) and non-communicable diseases (NCDs) as the double burden of disease. Despite the co-occurrence of both conditions in LMICs, scholars and policymakers continue to approach them independently.The study will enhance understanding of the double burden of disease at the neighbourhood level and point to the need for health policymakers and practitioners to adopt integrated approaches for the management of both health conditions.

Student: Irenius Konkor 

Supervisor: Prof. Vincent Kuuire 

 

Past Winners

Project title: Monitoring Long-Term Forest Change in Suburbanizing Landscape

Project description: The primary study area for this research is the Credit Valley Watershed and Region of Peel, which has undergone rapid suburbanization since the mid-1900s. The project aimed to leverage the unique spatial coverage and temporal depth offered by Landsat data, supported by aerial photography and field data, to model spatial-temporal periods of forest growth and decline in a suburbanizing landscape. It also seeks to explore relationships between observed forest changes and both natural and anthropogenic drivers using historical environmental records, population and infrastructure expansion statistics and policy information.

Student(s): Mitchell Bonney

Supervisor: Prof. Yuhong He

 

Project title: Performance Evaluation of Low-Cost Sensors for Urban Air Pollution Modelling

Project description: This research aimed to examine the validity of non-regulatory instruments used in citizen science for air quality projects. Ambient air conditions in Mississauga and Hamilton were sampled using EPA certified instruments. For this project,  a direct  comparison between an EPA grade monitor(Ecotech Serinus 40)and low-cost sensor(Aeroqual Nitrogen Dioxide Sensor) was conducted to assess the validity and reliability of data produced by the lower-cost sensor. This project may help reduce confusion in the market place and in research of commercial air sensors performance compared to reference instruments by assuring these monitors produce data of sufficient quality.

Student(s): Anna Shadrova

Supervisor: Prof. Matthew Adams

 

Project title: The Effect of Salt Pollution on Dragonfly Survival and Success in Urban Environments

Project description: The salinization of freshwater habitats is causing decreases in aquatic biodiversity on a global scale. This project sought to quantify both direct and indirect effects of salinity exposure on dragonfly persistence.  Aquatic larval dragonflies were directly exposed to environmentally realistic concentrations of salt and measured for growth rate and survival; while terrestrial adult dragonflies were tested for indirect effects of salinity exposure during their earlier life stages by quantifying individual size and population sex ratio.  

Student(s): Rosalind Murray

Supervisor: Prof. Shannon McCauley