Kira Holland

Kira Holland
MSc Student

Supervisor: Dr. Trevor Porter
Hometown: San Antonio, Texas



  • MSc Candidate – University of Toronto Mississauga
  • BA Geography and Geology – University of Texas, at Austin

Research and Professional Interests

During my undergraduate, I decided to by an enigma as a Texan studying Arctic climate change! I spent two months in the summer at the University Centre in Svalbard (UNIS) in Norway, studying permafrost, periglacial processes and environmental change in the High Arctic. I retrieved a lake sediment core from a karst lake (in Linnédalen, Western Spitsbergen, Svalbard) for my honours research. This was my first introduction to the field of paleoclimatology. I also gained invaluable research experience conducting Arctic fieldwork, learned how not to die if you fall into the Arctic Ocean, and found out how not to be eaten by a polar bear. Upon returning, I graduated from UT Austin with two BAs in Geography and Geology and then I immediately ran away to Canada to pursue an MSc in Geography.

My Master’s research focuses on reconstructing late Holocene paleotemperatures and sea-ice conditions in the western Canadian Arctic using ice wedges as an archive for climate proxies (i.e. water isotopes d18O and dD, and marine aerosols). My work focuses on the Mackenzie River Delta in the Northwest Territories. Understanding past climate change is crucial to predicting Arctic system responses to contemporary and future climate change, and my research will help fill the gap in the spatially and temporally incomplete record of past Arctic conditions.

Why Geography at UTM?

I discovered UTM while searching for potential Master’s projects that combined my interests in paleoclimatology and permafrost. My Supervisor, Dr. Trevor Porter, had advertised my current project on U of T’s Geography website, and my decision was made. With the promise of Arctic fieldwork, the Department’s academic resources, and the welcoming geography community, UTM has proven to be an excellent choice for graduate work.