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Arctic change

Graduate student wins third prize at international Arctic research event


By Jeff Green

Benjamin Misiuk, a doctoral student in the Department of Geography, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, placed third in a poster competition during the international Arctic Change conference held Dec. 11-15 in Quebec City.

Humbling experience

The title of his presentation was Two Ways of Seabed Mapping: Benthic Habitat Maps Produced Using Science and Local Knowledge.

Benjamin Misiuk speaking with Daniel Taukie from Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated during the Arctic Change conference.
From left, Benjamin Misiuk and Daniel Taukie, Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated, at the conference.
Photo: Submitted

“To be recognized at a meeting of researchers who are so passionate about Arctic science was humbling,” Mr. Misiuk told the Gazette.

“The work I presented was collaborative though, with contributions from each of my co-authors. These were my supervisors, Drs. Trevor Bell and Evan Edinger from Memorial; Teresa Tufts, Manasie Kendall, a Memorial geography alumnus; Janelle Kennedy, Government of Nunavut; and Dr. Alec Aitken from the University of Saskatchewan.”

International audience

More than 1,400 experts from around the world gathered for the conference, where they discussed issues resulting from climate change and modernization in the Arctic.

The event explored the latest findings in Arctic research touching on topics such as dwindling sea ice, community health and education, changing wildlife habitats, international boundary disputes, commercial shipping and resource exploitation.

Michelle Kamula, a scientist from the University of Manitoba, and Benjamin Misiuk handling a box core seabed sample aboard the RV Nuliajuk.
From left, Michelle Kamula, a scientist from the University of Manitoba, and Benjamin Misiuk handling a box core seabed sample aboard the RV Nuliajuk.
Photo: Submitted

Hosted by ArcticNet, a Canadian Network of Centres of Excellence, in collaboration with its national and international partners, the event was one of the largest international Arctic science meetings ever held in Canada.

Memorial is a member institution of ArcticNet.

Research exposure

The conference included a poster competition to recognize excellence in science by early career researchers; the poster competition was open to master’s and doctoral students with an abstract approved for presentation.

Mr. Misiuk says participating at such a high-profile event provides tremendous exposure to his research.

“This conference provided the perfect venue to showcase what we’ve learned so far about seabed habitats near Nunavut’s capital city, Iqaluit,” he explained.

Still from an underwater video showing some of the seabed habitat in Frobisher Bay (lasers are five cm scale).
A still from an underwater video showing some of the seabed habitat in Frobisher Bay (lasers are five centimetres scale).
Photo: Submitted

“The city is growing and this can impact nearby marine ecosystems,” he continued. “We used traditional Inuit knowledge alongside scientific sampling to create a snapshot of current seabed habitat conditions, which can be used to detect change if it occurs. It was great to talk about this work to other interested scientists, government personnel, and Inuit who attended. Their feedback really will influence how we progress with this project.”

Cash prizes

Winners of the poster awards were presented with $1,000 for first place, $600 for second place and $400 for third place in each of the following three categories: Social and Health Science, Marine-Natural Science and Terrestrial-Natural Science.

Memorial representation

Dr. Bell also attended the conference. He was joined by Dr. Ashlee Cunsolo, director, Labrador Institute, who also took part in the conference. She spoke at a panel discussion focused on the visions of a future Arctic during the conference.

She was joined by a number of other Memorial representatives. Among them were Caitlin Lapalme, laboratory co-ordinator at the Labrador Institute; Robert Way, a post-doctoral fellow with the Labrador Institute and Department of Geography; Dr. Marie Clément, research associate with the Labrador Institute and the Marine Institute; and Chelsea Boaler, a PhD student with the Marine Institute and the Labrador Institute.

Among others that attended were students from the Inuit bachelor of education program, a collaboration between the Labrador Institute, the Faculty of Education and the Nunatsiavut Government; Dr. Luise Hermanutz, Department of Biology, Faculty of Science; and Rudy Riedlsperger, a PhD student in the Department of Geography.

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