Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 76.63
Liaison Karen Oberer
Submission Date Dec. 11, 2020

STARS v2.2

McGill University
AC-9: Research and Scholarship

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 11.73 / 12.00 Karen Oberer
Sustainability Officer
McGill Office of Sustainability
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Total number of employees that conduct research:

Number of employees engaged in sustainability research:

Percentage of employees that conduct research that are engaged in sustainability research:

Total number of academic departments that include at least one employee who conducts research:

Number of academic departments that include at least one employee who conducts sustainability research:

Percentage of departments that conduct research that are engaged in sustainability research:

A copy of the inventory of the institution’s sustainability research (upload):
Inventory of the institution’s sustainability research:

Below is a list of researchers conducting sustainability research that are included, but not limited to, the full list of researchers identified as conducting sustainability research (see uploaded file for full list):

Dr. David M. Green (Redpath Museum, Curator of Vertebrates) is past Chair of the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada and science advisor to DFO Science. This experience affords him outstanding expertise in effective science advice to government as well as the development of policy for species at risk. He studies landscape ecology, conservation biology, and range dynamics, primarily of amphibians. Dr. Green is the recipient of the Pimlott Award for 2006 from Nature Canada for outstanding service in the cause of conservation in Canada. He was President of the Herpetologists' League in 2016 and 2017, serving as Vice-president during 2014 and 2015. He also received the Bruce Naylor Award of Excellence in Natural History for outstanding contributions to museum-based natural history studies in Canada by the Alliance of Natural History Museums of Canada in 2011.

Dr. Lauren Chapman (Dept. Biology), Canada Research Chair (Tier 1) in Respiratory Ecology and Aquatic Conservation, studies the selective pressures and evolutionary forces underlying patterns of distribution and movement of animals, integrating ecology, evolution, physiology, and morphology with natural history in field and laboratory experiments. Dr. Chapman is known for her work on the ecology and evolution of respiratory strategies in fishes related to oxygen gradients, and its application to conservation concerns.

Dr. Elena Bennett (Dept. Biology) is co-chair of the international project ecoSERVICES, which aims to set the research agenda for ecosystem services for the coming decade, and lead author on the IPBES Global Assessment. Dr. Bennett was a Leopold Leadership Fellow (2012), and a Trottier Public Policy Professor (2013-2014). At McGill, she has won awards for undergraduate teaching, graduate supervision, and contributions to campus sustainability. In 2012, she was selected to be one of two representatives of the Royal Society of Canada at the Summer Davos meeting of the World Economic Forum held in Tianjin, China. In 2016, she was named one of six NSERC Steacie Fellows. Also in 2016, she received the Alice Johannsen Award (for the Montérégie Connection Project) from the Mont Saint-Hilaire Nature Centre for a significant contribution towards the protection of nature.

Dr. Andrew Hendry (Redpath Museum/ Dept. Biology), investigates evolutionary forces that influence the evolution of biological diversity, focusing specifically on how differences in natural selection lead to dynamic adaptive divergence and speciation. His empirical work focuses on salmon, Trinidadian guppies, three-spine stickleback, and Darwin’s finches of the Galapagos. He is particularly well known for having shown how species can evolve rapidly when they colonize new environments.

Dr. Anthony Ricciardi (Redpath Museum/MSE) is a leader in studies of biological invasions. His research uses empirical modeling, meta-analysis, and field experiments to predict the ecological impacts of invasive aquatic species. In particular, his work links the rate of invasion to human activities, native species richness, and the physico-chemical environment.

Dr. Irene Gregory-Eaves (Dept. Biology) studies the impact of climatic and anthropogenic change on species dynamics. As a paleolimnologist, she is particularly well known for her work on sockeye salmon, in which she demonstrated that populations have been highly dynamic over the past 2,000 years.

Dr. Andrew Gonzalez (Dept. Biology) is Director of the Quebec Centre for Biodiversity Science and Co-Chair elect of the Group on Earth Observations – Biodiversity Observations Network. His research lab focuses on 4 main areas: biodiversity change and connected protected area networks; a mesoscopic theory of biodiversity; evolutionary rescue; and economic inequality and biodiversity change.

Dr. Catherine Potvin (Dept. Biology) is a Trottier Fellow from the Trottier Institute for Science and Public Policy, the Director of the Panama Field Study Semester; and a Canada Research Chair in Climate Change Mitigation and Tropical Forest (Tier 1). Dr. Potvin’s lab focuses on four main research areas: biodiversity and ecosystem functioning livelihoods; empowerment and biodiversity; REDD+: carbon and co-benefits; and science to inform climate change policy. During her career she has edited two books and published more than 100 scientific journal articles or book chapters. Dr. Potvin served as Panama’s negotiator of REDD in the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (2005-2009). She also led the Sustainable Canada Dialogues, an initiative that mobilizes scholars from across Canada to propose a blueprint for Canada’s transition to a low carbon economy.

Several members of the Faculty of Arts contribute to the McGill School of Environment to provide expertise on issues related to socio-cultural and political and economic aspects of biodiversity. Specifically, Colin Scott (Dept. of Anthropology) performs research that tracks the evolution of indigenous land and sea rights, as state governments, metropolitan developers and indigenous peoples make competing claims for ownership and jurisdiction. He also examines the bearing of ethnological notions of cultural identity, tradition, continuity and change on the discursive restructuring of rights. From the Department of Economics, Prof. Robert Cairns examines microeconomic foundations of environmental accounting and technological and economic foundations for climate policy.

Representing the Faculty of Law in the School of Environment is Prof. Jaye Ellis, who teaches and conducts research in the fields of international environmental law, public international law, international legal theory and international relations. Her D.C.L. focused on principles of international environmental law and their influence on the development of international regimes for environmental protection. Prof. Ellis’s current research project focuses on the intersections among law, politics, economics, ethics, and science as these social systems are brought to bear on problems of environmental degradation. One facet of this research addresses the increased importance of transnational law, paying particular attention to the role of non-state actors in transnational space.

Dr. Nii Addy (Desautels Faculty of Management) is Assistant Professor (Research) at the Institute for the Study of International Development (ISID). Dr. Addy’s work focuses on developing, implementing, and assessing strategies and policies for institutional change in multi-stakeholder partnerships spanning societal sectors (businesses, public agencies, and civil society organizations) and industrial sectors (education, agriculture, nutrition, health, etc.). His interdisciplinary work combines qualitative and quantitative approaches, with the goal of informing how diverse stakeholders can work together effectively for sustainable development. His current projects include cross-sector partnerships promoting entrepreneurship for improvements in agri-food, nutrition and health in North America and Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). He has been a researcher and consultant on projects for a number of organizations, including the UK Department for International Development (DFID), the World Bank, the Hewlett Foundation, Mathematica Policy Research, Inc., and ICF International.

Dr. Nathalie Tufenkji (Dept. Chemical Engineering), Canada Research Chair (Tier 1) studies microbial or particle transport and attachment to surfaces to understand how colloid or biocolloid attachment to sediment grains predict the contamination potential of waterborne microbial pathogens or anthropogenic materials in the natural aquatic environment. Beyond her research and teaching roles, Dr. Tufenkji also serves as Associate Director of the Brace Center for Water Resources Management at McGill and has co-chaired several major international conferences. She has also served on the editorial boards of the journals Environmental Science and Technology, npj Clean Water, Water Research, Colloids and Surfaces B, Advances in Colloid and Interface Science, Environmental Science: Nano and Frontiers in Chemical Engineering

Dr Viviane Yargeau (Dept. Chemical Engineering) examines the fate of pharmaceuticals which are released into the environment and in particular into the water system. She has provided the first data on the level of contamination by pharmaceuticals of rivers located in Quebec and studied the variations of concentrations along the river with respect to types of municipal wastewater treatment used and volume of wastewater discharged. She has also conducted a critical review of the effect of ozonation on the degradation of antibiotics. Her work has made advances in the detection limits of several important man-made chemicals in the environment. In a second research stream she is investigating techniques to produce hydrogen as a fuel from biodegradation of waste. She is involved in several ongoing research projects, including “Reducing Releases of Harmful Chemicals into the Great Lakes by Ozonation of Municipal Wastewater” (Environment and Climate Change Canada - 2018-2020).

Dr. Susan Gaskin (Dept. Civil Engineering and Applied Mechanics) - Professor Gaskin’s research concerns fluid flow in the environment and more specifically the modelling of pollutants released from a point source into surface waters. Research is aimed at increasing our understanding of the turbulent mixing processes and developing models to improve the prediction of the dilution and transport of the pollutants. Studies also aim to improve understanding for flow dynamics to reintroduce and maintain riverine habitat requirements for fish. Her past work also extended to water resources modelling in the closed Basin of Mexico to predict water use subject to constraints (such as climate change) and demands (such as increased population).

Several members of the department and Earth and Planetary Sciences (Faculty of Science) also are major contributors to research that focuses on aquatic systems:

Dr. John Stix, (Dept. Earth and Planetary Sciences) performs research in the following areas: petrology and geochemistry of intermediate and felsic magmas; micro-analysis of trace volatile and light lithophile elements by ion microprobe, inductively-coupled plasma mass spectrometry laser, and electron microprobe studies; understanding physical processes and forecasting eruptions at active subduction-zone volcanoes; geochemistry of volcanic gases, their use for eruption prediction, and their impact on the atmosphere; new infrared remote sensing techniques to measure gases at active volcanoes; integration of geological, geochemical, and geophysical datasets to model volcano plumbing systems. Moreover, Dr. Stix believes it is important that his students, both graduate and undergraduate, recognize the importance of sustainability in their own research activities. As Associate Dean of Research in the Faculty of Science, he believes it is important that the culture of sustainability permeates through the research activities of the Faculty.

Dr. Jeffrey McKenzie (Dept. Earth and Planetary Sciences) applies numerical modeling, hydrochemistry, and field methods to study northern peatlands and pro-glacial systems. He studies the impact of climate change on the vulnerability and sustainability of groundwater resources, primarily in Peru and the Arctic.

Dr. Gail Chmura is Past-President of the Canadian Quaternary Association and current Canadian delegate to the International Union for Quaternary Research Congress. Her research examines how land use (e.g., fertilizer runoff from agriculture, constructed barriers from urban development) affects sustainability of salt marshes and mangroves as they respond to sea level rise. She asks to what degree these wetlands serve as natural climate solutions, i.e., do they persist as sinks or become sources of greenhouse gases as they are impacted by land use change? She also examines the climate feedback of these wetlands when drained or reflooded after drainage.

Dr. Nigel Roulet, (Dept. Geography), is a James McGill Professor of Biogeosciences and Director of the Global Environmental and Climate Change Research Centre. His primary interests are on the interactions among climate, hydrology, and ecosystem structure and function that determine the biogeochemistry of the gaseous exchanges between ecosystems and the atmosphere and the lateral water exchanges between ecosystems within catchments. His ecosystems of interest are primarily forests, peatlands and shallow lakes, and the ecoclimatic regions he is most interested in are boreal, subarctic and Arctic. He approaches his research by combining empirical studies from the scale of individual plants to landscapes such as the Hudson Bay Lowlands, with a theoretical approach using simulation.

Dr. Oliver T. Coomes (Dept. Geography) performs research in the following areas: environment and development in Latin America; peasant economy; cultural ecology; environmental conservation and economic development; traditional agriculture and rainforest extraction; and peasant adaptation to environmental and economic change in Amazonia. Dr. Coomes was editor-in-chief of “World Development," the leading development studies journal in the field, from 2003-2012.

Dr. Sarah Turner (Dept. Geography) performs research in the following areas: Development geography; Southeast Asian geographies; upland minorities in peninsula Southeast Asia and southwest China; Hanoi street vendors and informal sector workers; Eastern Indonesia entrepreneurs; livelihood studies; everyday politics and resistance; commodity chain approaches; agrarian change; and innovative qualitative methods. Her research strives to anchor development thinking and practice in the day-to-day realities and aspirations of local people who often find it difficult to ‘have a voice’ given their own political, cultural or economic positions.

Dr. Treena Wasonti:io Delormier (School of Human Nutrition) is Associate Director, Centre for Indigenous Peoples’ Nutrition & Environment (CINE) and a Canada Research Chair Tier II in Indigenous Peoples’ Nutrition and Food Security. Her research focuses on the food, nutrition and the of Indigenous peoples. She is involved in health promotion interventions that address the social determinants of health underlying the health inequities Indigenous Populations experience, particularly in a historical context of colonialism. Dr Delormier's research approaches employ qualitative methodologies, and privilege Indigenous and community based methodologies. She is dedicated to building capacity in Indigenous health research through mentoring and training students and community researchers.

A brief description of the methodology the institution followed to complete the research inventory:

1. The initial list was submitted to me by the McGill Sustainability Systems Initiative. It was list of all MSSI members and included their research interests, website, and SDGs related to their work.
2. A second list was submitted to me by a colleague in the Office of the Vice-Principal (Research and Innovation). She ran a list of sustainability keywords against a database of project titles of funded academic faculty members. I reviewed each entry in this list and removed the names of those whose research was not sustainability-focused, which I determined by reading online descriptions of their research interests.
The methodology by which this list was developed is as follows: "A list of keywords relating to sustainability and sustainability research was compiled and run against McGill's research funding database. If two or more keywords were present in a researcher's project title, then that researcher's name was included on the list of researchers conducting sustainability research. Only individual names of faculty and staff were included in the total headcount, even if they had multiple sustainability projects being done in 2018-2019."
Only tenure-track academic staff are included in the final list. The keyword list mentioned above was the same keyword list used to determine sustainability-focused courses.
3. I then added the names and research interests of all faculty members of TISED, the Trottier Institute for Sustainability in Engineering and Design.
4. I reviewed the research interests of all faculty members belonging to academic units offering environmental and sustainability-focused courses and programs.
5. Noticing that there was a dearth of researchers from the Faculty of Arts in the current list, I scoured the research biographies of those faculty members belonging to sustainability-focused centres.
6. I received a list of active Canada Research Chairs (2018) whose research possibly pertained to sustainability. I went through this list manually, reading the CRC descriptions and determined which ones I deemed to be most relevant to the topic.
The final list is therefore a compilation of researchers who self-identify as sustainability researchers (e.g., MSSI and TISED members) and those chosen by matching keywords to their published research interests. While I have attempted to be as thorough as possible, I will no doubt have missed some researchers in my inventory. My selection of researchers rests on my understanding of "sustainability-focused"; in general, I was looking for at least 2 keywords pertaining to sustainability while I was reading researcher biographies. The list includes academic faculty members who were employed at McGill from 2018 to present.
7. Cassandra Lamontagne, Concordia University, reviewed the list of researchers as part of her overall review of the STARS submission. I followed her suggestions by reviewing and refining the list even further and by providing a rationale for the inclusion for most of the researchers.

Please note that I have mostly included only the names of tenure-stream academic faculty (professors, assistant professors, associate professors) as this data is more readily available and reliable. One exception is George McCourt, who is a long-time Senior Faculty Lecturer in the School of Environment.

Faculty members from the field of medicine are likely under-represented as I excluded researchers working on specific illnesses (cancer, HIV/AIDS, Alzheimer's Disease, dementia, depression, etc.). Even though medical research is widely applicable to sustainability concerns, it was difficult for me to determine which should be classified as "sustainability focused." I felt that including any researcher working on these illnesses might artificially inflate our numbers.
[Please see the attached document for a more thorough account of the inventory methodology].

Website URL where information about the institution’s sustainability research is available:
Additional documentation to support the submission:

The McGill-Affiliated hospitals are listed as separate units under Medicine. I have merged these hospitals into the Medicine Faculty, reducing the number of total units from 99 to 95.

The information presented here is self-reported. While AASHE staff review portions of all STARS reports and institutions are welcome to seek additional forms of review, the data in STARS reports are not verified by AASHE. If you believe any of this information is erroneous or inconsistent with credit criteria, please review the process for inquiring about the information reported by an institution and complete the Data Inquiry Form.