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Photo of Tricia Stadnyk. // Photo courtesy of Tricia Stadnyk.

Tricia Stadnyk wins the 2020 Faculty Sustainability Research Award

By Nikayla Goddard, June 6 2020 —

Tricia Stadnyk, associate professor of geography in the Faculty of Arts, recently won the 2020 Faculty Sustainability Research Award for her project, Using water isotopes to assess and predict changes in global water balance. Stadnyk’s impressive project as well as her other roles in international projects with the United Nations (UN) and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) lend themselves to her interesting portfolio and career.

Stadnyk is a hydrologist, studying water resources with a focus on the continental water supply of North America. Her international work focuses on applying some of the large-scale models she developed for Canada that look at future water supply under climate change and seeing how they can be applied to improve the global water balance. As Chief Scientific Investigator on a Coordinated Research Project with the UN and IAEA for the past year-and-a-half representing Canada, Stadnyk plays a key role in looking at and developing new policies for estimating global water balance. 

Stadnyk said she was surprised when she was notified of her win — she said the university claimed it was a competitive award, and it was the first award she applied to at U of C. 

“I was really surprised and honoured to receive it,” she described. “It really means a lot to me just because of my environmental background and the fact that environmental engineering and sustainability underpins the whole reason why I’m in the field that I’m in. Especially looking at conserving water under climate change and looking at preparing ourselves for the future, sustainability plays a huge role in what I do.” 

Stadnyk experienced a unique undergraduate program called Environmental (Civil) Engineering at the University of Waterloo, followed by a Doctorate in Water Resources at the University of Manitoba. 

Stadnyk’s project and position as Chief Scientific Investigator will culminate in a TecDoc, which she describes as a published and distributed document that will provide recommendations for other numerical modellers around the world that are looking at water resource issues. 

She explained further, “Particularly, the UN is interested in supporting developing nations that might not have the ability to study the proper or best way of doing things themselves, because research takes money and time. It’s a roadmap for if you need to produce good estimates of global water balance or even your local or regional water balance.

“It’s a valuable contribution in that it helps standardize what we’re doing in the community and to provide guidance for best procedures to get the best, most reliable answers.”

When asked if there is any information she thinks other should know about water scarcity and balance, Stadnyk said that it’s important to remain cognizant of our own water usage.

“In Canada, I think we’re very slow to come around to this issue of water scarcity and the idea that our water resources aren’t infinite,” she said. “Especially here in Alberta, the forecast of our climate change is showing that we’re likely to be the hardest hit in terms of a decrease in supply […] It doesn’t hurt everyone to think about how they use their water and [consider] freshwater availability and what that means.”

Stadnyk added that she is new to the University of Calgary, “So if there are students interested in this research, then they should not hesitate to reach out and contact me,” she concluded. 

A complete list of the 2020 Sustainability Award winners and finalists can be found here.

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