We seek to positively impact global society through research and training in earth, environmental and geographic sciences in areas that include water resources, mineral exploration, tectonics, natural hazards, global change, and sustainability.

INSTITUTES AND LABS

Our institutes and labs form the foundation of our research efforts, where our faculty members work with a number of community and industry partners to advance knowledge in the environmental and geological sciences, and provide hands-on research and learning opportunities for students.

The Centre for Environmental Assessment Research (CEAR) at UBC supports research about environmental assessment (EA) processes and methods, and helps integrate this information into practice. Research conducted and supported by CEAR contributes to resource development by furthering knowledge about the role that EA plays in helping to advance natural resource management practices that benefit Canadians.

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The Complex Environmental Systems Lab is a new research facility at UBC Okanagan. We study the management and governance of natural resources from a complex systems perspective. We work at the scale of regional landscapes, acknowledging the intricate interdependency of human and environmental systems.

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The FiLTER Lab is a new research facility accessible to researchers across UBC’s Okanagan campus as well as external researchers. Made possible by investments from the Government of Canada and the generous donations of Charles Fipke, it specializes in trace element analysis and electron microscope imaging. Services include inductively coupled plasma spectrometry, scanning electron microscopy, and electron probe micro analysis.

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BRAES is a group of over 30 faculty members and their graduate students working in ecology, biodiversity and conservation, and environmental sustainability on UBC’s Okanagan campus. BRAES’ special strength is its multidisciplinary focus, with members from departments of biology, mathematics and statistics, literary and cultural studies, earth and environmental sciences, physical geography, economics and creative arts.

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The PALEO LAB specialises in the use of midge fossils for the reconstruction of past environmental changes, particularly glacial and postglacial climates, and recent human impacts on lake ecosystems. We collaborate extensively with researchers at universities across Canada, as well as Parks Canada and the Royal British Columbia Museum.

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Our research is aimed at examining displacement and distortion in convergent margins. We are currently conducting research programs in the Tama Kosi area of east-central Nepal, the Kanchenjuga region of far east Nepal, the Hindu Kush of northwestern Pakistan, and the cratonic rocks of Northern Saskatchewan. These study areas provide the opportunity to examine well-exposed sections of exhumed middle to  lower crust within the youthful Himalayan orogen and contrast that with similar rocks involved with ancient orogensis. This type of research enables us to identify and track common processes across different orogens through time.

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Research Themes

Tectonics & Geochronology

What is the timing and nature of processes that form mountain belts and continents? Learn more.

Biogeochemistry

How do human activities and global change impact element and greenhouse gas cycles?

Wildfire

How should biomass be managed at the interface between forests and communities?

Global Change

How will climate change alter the frequency and magnitude of floods, drought, and wildfire, and recreational use of the landscape? Learn more.

Paleoecology

What can the past tell us about future environmental change? Learn more.

Environmental Impact Assessment

How will development choices change our environment? Learn more.

Watershed Science

How does forest disturbances, such as wildfire and timber harvesting, impact water quality and supply? Learn more.

Ecology

How do human activities, such as logging, mining and recreational use of watersheds, affect ecological processes in terrestrial and aquatic environments? Learn more.

Land Surface Processes

How do landscapes evolve and change over different time scales?

Opportunities for Undergraduate Students

The Department of Earth, Environmental, and Geographic Sciences offers many opportunities for undergraduate students to gain valuable research experience. You can participate in research either as a volunteer research assistant, or through Directed Studies and/or Honours opportunities. Explore your options below.

The opportunity: Get experience helping faculty members, graduate students, or a mixture of the two, with their research projects. Students can participate in lab-based or field research, at study sites in diverse forests, grasslands, lakes and rivers, and agroecosystems. This is a non-paid, non-credit based opportunity that will give you the chance to participate in various elements of conducting research. The duties and length of the opportunity is determined by the supervising faculty member.

Prerequisites: Typically, no experience is required, but some research labs may require students to have previous research experience. Some opportunities may also require the completion of certain courses prior to volunteering. Consult your program advisor or a faculty member for more information.

The opportunity: Carry out your own research project under the supervision of a faculty member in earth, environmental, and geographic sciences. You can earn three or six credits, depending upon the project.

Prerequisites: Third-year standing and permission of the department head and a faculty member to supervise the project. Consult your program advisor or a faculty member for more information.

 

The opportunity: Investigate a research problem under the supervision of a faculty member. You will be involved in all aspects of the research process, such as research design, data collection, and data analysis. Presenting findings is another key component of research, and this option requires completion of a written report and a public presentation of your research findings.

Completion of the undergraduate honours thesis contributes six credits towards your degree, but does not guarantee an honours distinction. To receive the honours distinction, you will also need to satisfy all of the graduation requirements including, but not limited to, a minimum average of 75% in all courses, and a minimum grade of 75% on your honours thesis.

Prerequisites: Fourth-year standing, a minimum average of 75% in all courses taken, and a research supervisor. Consult your program advisor or a faculty member for more information.

Awards for Undergraduate Students

The IKBSAS Undergraduate Research Awards (URA) and the NSERC Undergraduate Student Research Awards (USRA) provide exceptional research experiences for students at UBC’s Okanagan campus.

The purpose of the awards is to encourage undergraduate students to pursue innovative and original research as part of their learning experience.

Our Partners and Donors

Together, we are making a difference, locally and around the world. Our partners and donors allow us to carry out our mission of helping the community, making advancements in research, and providing quality education in the field of environmental and geographic sciences.

If you are interested in becoming a partner or donor, we would love to hear from you.