Dr. Madhur Anand will serve as director of the Guelph Institute for Environmental Research (GIER) at the University of Guelph for a second two-year term.
A professor in the School of Environmental Sciences (SES), she was appointed as inaugural director of the institute in fall 2019.
Under her renewed directorship, Anand will continue to champion cross-disciplinary research at U of G to address critical environmental issues from climate action and sustainable communities to clean water and equitable economies.
GIER is intended to bring together University researchers and to share insights with national and international audiences.
Involving about 130 faculty members and a governance committee with representatives from all seven colleges, GIER was created “to highlight and promote the already outstanding recognition that U of G has for environmental research,” said Anand.
“It was also created to recognize that our world’s environmental crises require a coming-together of different disciplines and sectors across different parts of the University. At GIER, we’re interested in the interdisciplinary interfaces between the natural sciences and engineering, the social sciences and humanities, and the arts.”
“I’m delighted that Dr. Madhur Anand will continue as director of GIER for another term,” said Dr. Gwen Chapman, provost and vice-president (academic). “She leads a key interdisciplinary research initiative that promises to help find solutions to some of the planet’s most pressing environmental challenges.”
The institute runs events and panels as well as an annual symposium. Held virtually this year, the symposium brought together about 100 faculty members and external participants.
GIER events have addressed topics ranging from climate policy to knowledge mobilization. For example, one session brought together SES professor and geologist Dr. Emmanuelle Arnaud and novelist Catherine Bush, coordinator of U of G’s creative writing MFA program, to discuss glacier science and imagining climate change.
Earlier this year, Anand discussed COVID-19 and the environment along with Dr. John Fryxell, Department of Integrative Biology, and Dr. Robin Roth, Department of Geography, Environment and Geomatics, in a session moderated by Mike Schreiner, Guelph MPP and leader of the Green Party of Ontario. Several events involved international speakers and audiences, including participants in the United States, India and Pakistan.
“All the problems we had with respect to the environment before the pandemic are now even more acute, focused and urgent,” she said.
GIER funding each year supports interdisciplinary campus research in any aspect of the environment. This year’s strategic themes are human-environment systems, Indigenous environmental research, art-science collaborations and environmental communication. Funded projects have ranged from climate change to pollution remediation to biodiversity conservation.
Under a matching funds program, the institute also supports members applying for grants from external funding agencies.
Beyond campus, Anand points to initiatives such as science-heavy reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services to underline the need for a cross-disciplinary campus research institute that helps to create, share and communicate information and knowledge.
“Those reports and results are largely communicated by scientists, but that’s not good enough for the rate and magnitude of change required. We absolutely need to bring together the natural sciences, the social sciences and the arts to effect social change.”
Dr. Madhur Anand