Researching Canada’s north

Throughout the upcoming year, 15 Laurier students will be conducting research in Northern Canada after receiving funding from the Northern Scientific Training Program (NSTP).

The NSTP is a federal program that provides supplementary funding to senior undergraduate and graduate students to conduct research in Canada’s North. While the majority of Laurier students who apply to the program are geography and environmental studies majors, any field of scientific research is eligible for funding.

As chair of the Northern Studies committee, Laurier associate professor Brent Wolfe is responsible for compiling student applications and submitting them to the NSTP.

Laurier students have been participating in the program for almost 20 years; however, this year students received the most funding, due in part to the large number of applicants.

“An important point for this year is that we’ve received the largest amount from NSTP in our history of applying and it was $34,300 in support of 15 student applications,” explained Wolfe.

“It speaks to the health and growth of our Northern Research Program here at Laurier. We’re thrilled to have received these funds. They certainly are very helpful to offset the extra costs of doing Northern research, so we certainly appreciate the support.”

Of the 15 students who will be conducting the research, five are doctoral students, six are graduate students and four are senior undergraduate students. Research projects are planned for the Yukon, the Northwest Territories, northern Alberta and northern Manitoba. The projects will focus on the physical sciences, human sciences and life sciences; students will spend from one week up to four months at their field sites.

Graduate student Erin Dobson, who also received funding from the NSTP last year, will travel to Churchill, Manitoba to continue her research on the hydrology of tundra ponds. “[The NSTP funding] is great because it supports our fieldwork and we’re able to go up [North] and complete our analyses.”

“It is an important supplementary source of funding,” said Wolfe. “It is very costly to do research in Northern Canada and so this is a source of funding that those of us who participate in this program have come to rely on to help get our students up to their field sites.”