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Pledge boosts TRU industrial research

Research chair a first step towards ecosystem reclamation centre
December 3, 2015 10:49 A.M.

Genome B.C. has pledged $250,000 towards creation of a Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) industrial research chair position at TRU. 

Creating the position supports development of industry-based solutions to environmental problems and is seen as a first step towards creation of a Centre for Ecosystem Reclamation at TRU — the first of its kind in Canada.

Growing public perception of the impact of human activity on the environment, human health, economic well-being, biodiversity and standards of living has led to an increased demand for advanced ecosystem mitigation and restoration.

"Resource industries helped build the province of British Columbia,” said Lauchlan Fraser, full professor and candidate for the NSERC Industrial Chair. “It is appropriate that we can now use modern genetic tools to help solve environmental disturbances caused by mining, forestry and ranching and the challenges of restoration in the face of climate change." 

Prof. Lauchlan Fraser

Fraser is the inaugural director and research leader of the Centre for Ecosystem Reclamation.

Industry-specific regulations exist for the mining, oil and gas, forestry and transportation industries and the Centre for Ecosystem Reclamation at TRU would add innovative strategies to restoration management plans. 

Using genetic tools to establish biodiversity and ecosystem function baselines pre-disturbance is an example of such innovation: this baseline would be used during restoration to meet ecosystem recovery benchmarks. More effective reclamation even plays a role in climate change as mine sites, specifically water levels and longevity of species, will be affected by changes in climate.

“Genome BC is committed to investing in key sectors of British Columbia- mining and energy play a vital role in our social and economic fabric,” said Dr. Alan Winter, president and CEO of Genome B.C. “We are pleased to be leading the way for this important position: Dr. Fraser is an ideal candidate to be the first NSERC Industrial Research Chair at TRU.”

“This proposed centre represents the next logical step for continued excellence in restoration ecology at TRU,” said TRU president Alan Shaver. 

“This investment by Genome B.C. into reclamation research will take restoration and climate change ecology to the next level at TRU and have a positive impact on the tools available to ensure the environmental sustainability of our region — one of TRU’s major strategic priorities.  The results of this research will be of interest nationally and globally.”

Genome B.C. has a number of partnerships with post-secondary institutions in the province. The agency serves as “a catalyst for the life sciences cluster on Canada’s West Coast,” and manages a portfolio of more than $710 million in 254 research projects as well as science and technology platforms. 

Michael Mehta says:
December 3, 2015 03:24pm

Some great news today regarding a new industrial chair at TRU. Congratulations to all involved.

Since it’s my experience that funders like Genome BC typically require industrial support as matching in some way or another, I’m sure that we would all like to know who this partner might be. Is it mining company Imperial Metals – responsible for the devastation associated with the tailing pond breach at Mount Polley? If so, what is the nature of that agreement? Surely something like this should be made public and at a minimum discussed in Senate.

The article is silent on this, and of course TRU has not communicated anything yet to faculty and others.


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