As part of Earth Day, a University of Guelph institute is announcing funding for seven interdisciplinary research projects that tackle human-environmental crises.

The Guelph Institute for Environmental Research (GIER) will provide $105,000 from its small grants program to new and ongoing U of G projects.

Established in 2019, the institute is intended to stimulate collaborations across campus and raise the profile of environmental research at U of G.

Dr. Madhur Anand speaks at the launch of the Guelph Institute for Environmental Research - GIER
Dr. Madhur Anand speaks at the launch of the Guelph Institute for Environmental Research (GIER)

The institute includes more than 100 researchers from all seven colleges at the University who are working on solving the world’s environmental problems through innovation and interdisciplinary collaborations.

“It is so inspiring to discover and support the imaginative ways in which GIER researchers across all of our colleges aspire to improve life,” said Dr. Madhur Anand, inaugural director of GIER and professor in the School of Environmental Sciences (SES). “These new projects — as with the work of so many GIER researchers — highlight the spirit of international Earth Day: to acknowledge and honour the interdependence among human beings and other species and the planet we share.”

The following researchers will receive GIER funding for 2020-21:

• Drs. Brittany Luby, Department of History, and Andrea Bradford, School of Engineering, will further develop the Manomin Project, a community-engaged research initiative committed to restoring ancestral crops and revitalizing cultural foodways in Anishinaabe-Aki.

• Drs. Ryan Norris and Elizabeth Gow, both of the Department of Integrative Biology, and Dr. Lee Niel, Department of Population Medicine, will assess the costs and benefits of unsupervised outdoor access for cats through a combination of ecology, welfare science and custom-built technology.

• Dr. Sheri Longboat, School of Environmental Design and Rural Development, and Dr. James Longstaffe, SES, will work with the Oneida Nation of the Thames community to integrate knowledge and build capacity around environmental risk assessments.

• Dr. Olaf Berke, Department of Population Medicine, and Dr. Lorna Deeth, Department of Mathematics and Statistics, will assess how socio-economic disparities can cause and amplify health inequalities during the COVID-19 pandemic.

• Dr. Jesse Popp, SES, will evaluate best practices in environmental monitoring to develop more holistic frameworks for Indigenous stewards and Western scientists to foster meaningful and respectful collaborations.

• Drs. Shoshanah Jacobs and Karl Cottenie, both in the Department of Integrative Biology, will develop Squirrel Life, a citizen science project that provides experiential learning opportunities, generates valuable monitoring data and encourages people to connect with their environment.

• Drs. Stefan Kremer and Dan Gillis, School of Computer Science, and Dr. Geneviève Ali, SES, will design and test machine learning models to predict river flows and floods and engage with relevant stakeholders to effectively mobilize their findings.

For questions or information on GIER, email