Congratulations to the Recipients of the 2021 Faculty of Forestry Best Master’s Thesis and Best Doctoral Dissertation Awards

These two awards recognize outstanding academic achievement in doctoral and Master’s research. We are incredibly fortunate to have such exceptional graduate students contributing to the reputation of the Faculty as a hub for world-class, impactful research. We look forward to celebrating their continued success and accomplishments.

Thank you to the Best Dissertation and Thesis Awards Committee (PhD committee: Stavros Avramidis, Richard Hamelin, Nicholas Coops, Chair*; MSc committee: Stavros Avramidis, Richard Hamelin, Nicholas Coops, Shannon Hagerman, non-voting Chair) for their thorough work.

Best Master’s Thesis Award Recipient

Daniel Sax

Daniel Sax

Department: Forest Resources Management
Supervisor: Dr. Lorien Nesbitt
Dissertation Title: Expelled from the Garden? Understanding the Dynamics of Green Gentrification in Vancouver, BC

Mr. Sax’s research addresses a crucial societal issue, specifically the need to understand processes of ‘green gentrification’ from an environmental justice perspective. His research stands out as exceptional for its innovative, ambitious and creative analytical approach combined with meaningful community engagement. The research included a comprehensive systematic “state of the field’ review as well as an in-depth qualitative case study based on extensive interviews and participant observation. This inquiry matters to ensure that important sustainability efforts, for example, Vancouver’s Greenest City initiative, succeed without adversely affecting vulnerable groups. His research findings are also highly relevant to ongoing efforts and conversations to address Vancouver’s housing crisis. On both accounts, he is actively working to make his findings accessible to practitioners in the city. His work has been published in 1 article with 3 additional articles in review. In addition, he has contributed to numerous refereed talks (4) and has also written in outreach form to engage with his community partners and communicate his finding more broadly.

Best Doctoral Dissertation Award Recipient

Kelsey Copes-Gerbitz

Dr. Kelsey Copes-Gerbitz

Department: Forest and Conservation Sciences, and Forest Resources Management
Supervisor: Dr. Lori Daniels, and Dr. Shannon Hagerman
Dissertation Title: Fire in a dynamic social-ecological system: Legacies and future of fire in British Columbia, Canada

Dr. Copes-Gerbitz’s research investigated the pressing societal challenges of how to address the growing wildfire risk in western North America. Her research was highly impactful with the potential for large implications in our understanding of fire occurrence and risk in BC. She undertook a detailed collaborative case study approach to investigate the complexities of wildfires in BC, and brought together a multidimensional analysis approach to allow a wide variety of evidence to be collated to understand fire and fire risk. In doing so, her research reached out to fire experts, and also to indigenous communities to ensure that their perspectives on fire and fire risk were incorporated in her compilation. As a result, the thesis is highly impressive in its ability to design, collate and validate this diversity of empirical evidence around fire. Her thesis had resulted in a number of high-impact peer-reviewed journal publications, as well as articles specifically designed to reach First Nations and the general community.

*Per University’s policy re: disclosing any conflicts of interest or perceived conflict of interest in adjudicating merit-based awards, members of the committee who may have a conflict of interest in adjudicating a nominee will recuse themselves from any discussion, decision, debate, or vote on any matter involving the conflict of interest. Should you have questions, kindly contact

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