Premier Wynne talks climate change with students at UTSC

February 21, 2018 by Dan Haves

On February 13, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne visited U of T Scarborough’s Department of Physical and Environmental Sciences to hear first hand from graduate students about some of the pressing issues facing our planet today.

"I want to understand the work that you're doing,” Wynne said during her visit. “I want students to have the opportunity to question me because there is nothing more important to the future of the province then you and the work that you're doing.”

Lori vandenEnden, a PhD student in the Myrna Simpson Research Group, had a chance to share her research on shifts in soil organic matter composition and biogeochemistry with climate change.

“I analyse soil from experimentally manipulated forests to see if there are any changes in carbon storage or cycling with climate change,” says Lori. “The unique feature of my project is that I look at sites that have been continuously manipulated for a long time, 10 to 20 years, which allows us to understand what we might expect with long-term environmental change.”

Lori says, while being a bit of a nerve wracking experience, sharing her research with Premier Wynne was rewarding.

“I think it is important for scientists to speak with politicians about climate change,” she says. “I feel that more informed politicians can help shape the public understanding of the challenges we are facing currently.”

Lori also had the opportunity to talk with the Premier about some of the funding challenges Canadian researchers face.

“She wanted to know why none of our study sites were in Ontario. But the fact is that the funding available in the US to establish long-term ecological research programs does not exist in Canada.”

With the recent appointment of Professor Molly Shoichet as Ontario’s first Chief Scientist, Lori is optimistic about the future for science in the province and how it will inform policy.

“It’s great that we now have a Chief Scientist. Particularly in the world we live in with many people using science and pseudoscience to push their own agendas, it is crucial to have a system in place to ensure that government policies are based on facts.”

You can learn more about Lori’s research by visiting the Myrna Simpson Research Group website.