The Faculty of Forestry wishes to congratulate Professor Isla Myers-Smith and the project team and collaborators on being awarded the Canada Excellence Research Chair in global change ecology. The position comes with an $8 million grant towards Isla’s research in Arctic greening.
As Canada Excellence Research Chair (CERC) in global change ecology, Isla and her team will study the impacts of global change on northern ecosystems. The research program will focus on tundra and boreal ecosystems in the Western Canadian North, which face threats to sustainable food systems, wildlife populations and their habitats, which together challenge the resilience of communities.
The program will investigate how warming temperatures and shifting seasonality affect Arctic tundra, alpine, and boreal forest ecosystems, including changes in plant growth, habitat composition, wildlife movement and species ranges. It will also examine the collective impact of these changes on the livelihoods of Indigenous communities in the Yukon Territory, Canada.
“As we continue to redefine and reimagine the UBC Faculty of Forestry, we are thrilled to welcome Dr. Isla Myers-Smith, one of the world’s leading experts in tundra and northern boreal ecosystems,” says Dean Robert Kozak. “As a global change ecologist, Isla will be studying the impacts of a warming planet on these vital and threatened landscapes and communities in the Canadian Arctic.”
Additionally, this CERC program aims to provide international leadership in Arctic research and will integrate long-term monitoring, remote sensing, drone technology, and traditional knowledge from Indigenous partners in the Yukon and Northwest Territories.
“I am very excited to begin this research program that will bring together researchers in the Faculty of Forestry, across the UBC campus and in the Yukon, NWT and beyond,” says Dr. Isla Myers-Smith. “The climate change challenges that the Canadian North is facing will require a collaborative approach to research, and this project will bring people together to address Northern research priorities together.”
Isla’s research focuses on the study of the ‘greening of the Arctic’ and the responses of plants to climate warming, as well as related impacts such as shrub expansion and permafrost thaw. Her research group, known as “Team Shrub“, employs a range of tools, including measuring tapes and drones, to document changes in the Arctic region, particularly in the Yukon Territory of the Canadian Arctic and across the tundra biome.
About the Team
The full UBC team for the proposal (in alphabetical order) includes: Marie Auger-Méthé, UBC Statistics/EOS; Cole Burton, UBC Forestry; Warren Cardinal-McTeague, UBC Forestry; Nicholas Coops, UBC Forestry; Lori Daniels, UBC Forestry; Sue Grayston, UBC Forestry; Danielle Ignace, UBC Forestry; Tongli Wang, UBC Forestry; Tara Martin, UBC Forestry; Sean Michaletz, UBC Botany.
Yukon, NWT and international partners include: YukonU; Outpost Research Station; Aurora Research Institute; NASA ABoVE Project; Mike Suitor, Yukon Government Dept. Environment; Cameron Eckert, Yukon Government; Caitlin Willier, Yukon Government Dept. Environment; Syd Cannings, Environment and Climate Change Canada; Thomas Jung, Yukon Government Dept. Environment; Laurence Carter, Ivvavik, Parks Canada; Ian McDonald, Vuntut, Parks Canada; Trevor Lantz, UVic; Noémie Boulanger-Lapointe, UVic; LaLiberte, UdeMontreal; Heather Johnson, USGS; Anne Bjorkman, UGothenburg; Sarah Elmendorf, UCBoulder; Bruce Forbes, ULapland; Scott Goetz and Logan Berner, Northern Arizona U; Schaepman-Strub, UZurich; Kerby, UAarhus
The Canada Excellence Research Chairs (CERC) program was established by the federal government in 2008 to strengthen Canada’s ability to attract the world’s top researchers. UBC will receive up to $24 million over eight years to support these three new chairs and their teams to establish ambitious research programs. CERC chairholders conduct ground-breaking research in various fields, such as health sciences, engineering, natural resources and social sciences.
The program has successfully attracted renowned scholars from around the world, strengthening Canada’s research capacity and fostering collaborations. Through its support for exceptional researchers, the CERC program enhances Canada’s global competitiveness and drives innovation, benefiting both the country and the international community.
The CERC program is a tri-agency initiative of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. It is administered by the Tri-agency Institutional Programs Secretariat (TIPS), which is housed within SSHRC.
Applications are invited from a broad range of disciplines in the social sciences and humanities, natural sciences and engineering, and health and related sciences. Canada Excellence Research Chairs are selected through a highly competitive and rigorous selection process involving a multilevel peer review assessment.