Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I grew up in a town of 2,000 people (Watrous, Saskatchewan) and have lived most of my adult life in Regina and Saskatoon, along with shorter experiences in Germany and Barbados. The town of Watrous is located in the potash belt of the Prairies and is co-located with the resort village of Manitou Beach. The cultural importance to many Indigenous peoples of the healing waters of Manitou Lake and the unique water qualities that make it the highest density water in the world (alongside the Dead Sea in the Middle East) have always been intriguing to me and led me to a career in water resources and environmental engineering.
I completed my engineering education at the University of Saskatchewan and worked at the National Water Research Institute of Environment Canada in Saskatoon before moving to become a professor at the University of Regina. I developed my research program in water management, treatment, extremes and impacts while at the U of Regina and have continued to evolve that program throughout my career. I moved back to USask in 2017 and then to the University of Lethbridge in 2021.
How long have you been at the U of L and what do you do here?
I’ve now been at the U of L for over five months as the vice-president (research). I have an academic position in Geography & Environment and continue to supervise five graduate students at my previous institutions, with plans to recruit at least one more in 2022.
My primary role at the U of L is the VP Research and includes supporting, promoting, advocating for and facilitating research to enhance the visibility and recognition of the U of L. The quality of research being done here is exceptional and I’m honoured to be able to talk about and celebrate the discoveries, innovations, creativity and scholarship that our students, faculty and staff undertake.
I’ve also recently been appointed to a four-year International Joint Commission Study Board for the St. Mary and Milk rivers, reviewing water allocation and apportionment between the United States and Canada. Given southern Alberta has 70 per cent of the irrigated agriculture in Canada, this is a very important study for the region and a great opportunity for the U of L community to contribute to transboundary water policy and practice.
What’s the best part of your job?
My favourite part of my job is when a researcher makes a new and meaningful connection that moves their dreams forward. Whether I can help by introducing people to each other, finding new funding sources and networks for a project or program that needs a boost, making space to learn from each other and together, and sharing what we’ve learned and need to know more about, I enjoy working directly with researchers to achieve their goals. When U of L researchers are successful and achieve their goals, that’s truly exciting and joyful for me. And when someone has struggled to find a path to achieve their goals and then we find that path together or discover a new path toward their goals, that’s very inspiring and rewarding.
What are you most excited about moving into the Spring 2022?
I hope we will continue to see more in-person activities and events and more opportunities to get to know more people beyond a two-dimensional screen view. I’m excited to see people in the hallways and have conversations about what they’re working on, striving for and accomplishing. Moving into Spring 2022, I expect to spend more time with U of L partners, funders, organizations and associations, governments and communities who are interested in what we do and how they can work with us.
What do you enjoy doing outside of work?
I really enjoy camping, although I would correctly term it “glamping” since I bought a comfy little motorhome. I’ve taken the road less travelled with family from the Prairies all the way to Newfoundland and Labrador, while also making sure to see extended family in the Ottawa Valley and Montreal, into the Yukon and Alaska a couple of times, and up, down and across the Prairies and BC (once again, making sure to see more family). On those kinds of trips, I always buy one of three things as a memento of the places I visited and people I met: a cute Christmas tree ornament, an odd fridge magnet, or a piece of locally handcrafted artwork.
Photo credit: Austin Knibb BFA (New Media) '20