Fulbright Canada Research Chair looking to change the way we think about and use water on the Prairies

By Krista Baliko Posted: August 14, 2019 11:50 a.m.

Dr. Soe Myint, a Fulbright Canada Research Chair in Environmental Studies, at the Arizona State University library.
Dr. Soe Myint, a Fulbright Canada Research Chair in Environmental Studies, at the Arizona State University library. Photo: Peiyuan Li, Arizona Sate University

While droughts and floods are as old as time, there has been a sharp increase in their frequency here in Canada and around the world - to negative effect.

According to a Government of Canada agroclimate report, in 2017 the southern regions between British Columbia and the southeastern Prairies faced their driest summer in 70 years, while that spring a portion of the northern agricultural region in Alberta and Saskatchewan experienced extreme moisture conditions that caused substantial delays in spring seeding, crop development, and harvesting.

These extreme climate events are taking their toll on the land, and, with a critical need to address them, the University of Regina is pleased to welcome Dr. Soe Myint, a Fulbright Canada Research Chair in Environmental Studies.

"While I am at the University of Regina I will be examining ground and surface water changes in central and western Canada between 2002 and 2017 to try to understand if and how environmental degradation, social and economic changes, and land use dynamics influence these changes," explains Myint.

"My proposed study is designed to provide transformative options for future water use and policy changes for sustainable resource management."

Myint, who is a professor in the School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning at Arizona State University, says that climate change and global warming are impacting and will continue to impact water availability, which is closely connected to the agricultural economics and food security of Canada.

"I will not only be able to contribute to the fields of hydrology and food security, land change science, and socio-economic investigation, but also demonstrate the tremendous potential of spatio-temporal modeling research on key environmental issues," says Myint, who will be at the University from September to December and collaborate with researchers at the Prairie Adaptation Research Collaboration (PARC) and in the Department of Geography and Environmental Studies.

"Urgent matters, such as these recent drought conditions, climate change and variation, and floods stress the importance of water use and availability," says Myint.

Dr. Kathleen McNutt, Interim Vice-President (Research), says Myint's scholarship will have a meaningful impact for years to come.

"Dr. Myint has an impressive academic record and the body of research he will contribute to while at the University of Regina is important for the Prairies and the country," says McNutt. "I look forward to what his work and his collaborations with the University's world-leading scholars will accomplish, as well as to the attention it will draw to key environmental issues of the Prairies and Canada as a whole."

Myint says he is excited to start his research program.

"The University of Regina is perfectly positioned to be a leading force in the nation's water security, ecology, food security, pollution, and preservation of the natural environment, which is ideal for me because of my research interests," says Myint, who adds that he looks forward to meeting with the exceptional community of highly qualified personnel within the University's relevant research centres and institutes.

"I hope I will get the opportunity to work with some of these brilliant researchers and scholars at the University of Regina."

Dr. David Sauchyn, director at PARC and professor in the Department of Geography and Environmental Studies, will work with Myint once he arrives to the University.

"I look forward to collaborating with Dr. Myint and, with his expertise in the remote sensing of environmental change, to his contribution to our climate change research at PARC," says Sauchyn.

The Canada-U.S. Fulbright Program operates on the principle of reciprocal exchange and provides the opportunity for outstanding American scholars to lecture and/or conduct research in Canada.

The University of Regina has previously welcomed Dr. Roe W. Bubar, Fulbright Specialist, from Colorado State University, 2012-2013, as well as Bettina Schneider, Fulbright Student, from the University of California Davis, 2006-2007, Cheryl Camillo, Fulbright Student, from the University of Maryland, 2015-2016, and Dr. David Russo, Fulbright Canada Research Chair from Frostburg State University in Maryland, 2017-2018.

The University of Regina has two Fulbright visiting research chair opportunities available in Mental Health and Water, Environment and Clean Energy. The deadline to apply is September 16, 2019.


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