STFX Master’s Student Awarded Prestigious Nserc Alexander Graham Bell Canada Graduate Scholarship
June 03rd, 2015
StFX master’s student Laura Graham has received the prestigious NSERC Alexander Graham Bell Canada Graduate Scholarship Masters CGS-M. The scholarship is valued at $17,500 for 12 months and is awarded to high caliber students engaged in their master’s degree.
“I’m honoured,” says Ms. Graham of Ottawa, ON, a 2014 StFX environmental sciences graduate now completing a two-year master’s in earth sciences at StFX, where she is researching carbon dioxide transport out of soil and through snow pack.
“It’s exciting to be recognized in that sort of way. I’m glad to see all my hard work paying off,” she says on receiving the award, which helps students develop research skills and assists in training highly qualified personnel by supporting students who demonstrate a high standard of achievement in undergraduate or early graduate studies.
Ms. Graham says her master’s research builds off her undergraduate work started with earth sciences professor Dr. Dave Risk, who is also supervising her master’s degree.
She is studying the advective-diffusive snow gas transport of CO2.
“Different methods of gas transport affect the timing and magnitude of CO2 release to the atmosphere, and could potentially create significant lags between the timing of CO2 production and emission,” she says.
“This in turn would affect global feedback loops. This research is important because it tries to understand the interplay between the two main gas transport mechanisms: diffusion and advection. Some unexpected patterns in CO2 fluxes of soil-snow systems have been observed in places such as Colorado, Alaska, and Nova Scotia. These patterns can’t be explained biologically, so we look to the physical possibilities to explain them using mathematical modelling along with field data from North Mountain, Cape Breton.”
Ms. Graham says this research will help to better inform global carbon budgets with more accurate winter CO2 flux measurements.
“Additionally, it will inform the soil biology community that soils are active in the winter, but not because of a change in biological activity. Finally, it will fill the research gap that exists in understanding the interaction between diffusion and advection in snow-covered environments.”
Ms. Graham has a field site in northern Cape Breton where she’s had some successful data collection from infrastructure installed last winter.
Later this month, she will travel to the Toolik Field Station Institute of Arctic Biology in Toolik, Alaska to collect data samples and work with one of the lab’s collaborators, Dr. Susan Natali, an assistant scientist at the Woods Hole Research Centre.