FES Celebrates Women in Science Day
February 11, 2020 is International Day of Women and Girls in Science celebrating the theme, ‘Investment in Women and Girls in Science for Inclusive Green Growth.’ In observance of the event, UN Women has called for opportunities for women and girls to innovate in science and technology, and for companies around the world to adopt the Women’s Empowerment Principles that promote and uphold women’s empowerment in the workplace, marketplace and the community. To celebrate the day, we feature our female scientists and their significant contributions in their respective fields.
Colla is a conservation biologist whose work primarily focusses on the conservation of at-risk pollinator species. She is a classically trained ecologist using scientific principles to address real-world conservation issues. As pollinators and pollination have become important issues among policymakers and the public in recent years, her work has become more interdisciplinary, working at the science-policy interface. She works closely with environmental NGOs, landowners, academic partners and government agencies at the municipal, provincial and federal levels to implement conservation management based on the best available science. Her research considers species with large ranges across the US and Canada but also local species which are at-risk here in Ontario. She helps run one of the largest North American pollinator citizen science projects, BumbleBeeWatch.org, which utilizes photos from the public to gain scientific information on the ecology and status of native bumblebees. The Identification Guide which she co-authored is one of the key resources for the understanding of bumblebee species in North America and her publications cited by other scholars signify their impact in the field of conservation science.
Curiosity about the natural world and its inhabitants has always guided my attentiveness in science. Originally, I was trained as a marine biologist and worked in the Whale Research Lab in Newfoundland with Jon Lien, where we co-wrote (with S. Staniforth) Wet and Fat: Whales and Seals of Newfoundland and Labrador. From field work on whales and sharks, my PhD research moved inland to Brock Fenton’s bat lab. Studying human relationships with ‘charismatic’ animals (such as whales) and then less loved mammals (for example, bats) drew me into the interdisciplinary areas of human-animal studies, natural history, conservation, environmental education and philosophy, and feminist science and technology studies. Current research includes FES colleagues and graduate students, and a University of Toronto team (led by Dr. S. Ruddick), researching urban human-animal encounters in the greater Toronto area, whilst working with the Toronto Wildlife Centre and humane removal groups. Also collaborated with Anna Zalik and Elizabeth Havice (UNC Chapel Hill) on ocean ‘frontiers’ and what it means to privatize, democratize and decolonize the ocean commons.
Fraser undertakes research within the broad area of avian ecology, primarily focused on colonial nesting water birds in both fresh water and marine environments. In the marine ecosystems, her research focuses on understanding the impacts from offshore oil and gas operations on seabirds and falls mostly in the area of environmental policy. Her most recent project considers the criteria used for offshore leasing and how decisions are undertaken with respect to areas that are near or within conservation areas. She also conducts field-based studies on the ecology and management of double-crested cormorants and black-crowned night herons. She is running a long-term monitoring program at Tommy Thompson Park in Toronto where currently the largest colony of double-crested cormorants in North America resides. In addition to the monitoring work which tracks nesting chronology and reproductive success, she undertakes a wide variety of projects associated with these birds such as quantifying how much and what kinds of human debris are incorporated into cormorant nests.
In the Social Exergy + Energy Lab, where I mentor graduate students and emerging scholars, I conduct empirical research about problems specific to how communities engage in a low-carbon energy transition to maintain average global temperature rise to 1.5°C. On one side, I combine my engineering and geography training to study and work with technology innovation researchers to follow trends, facilitate, characterise, and analyse the research and development, demonstration and diffusion of low-carbon innovations, with particular attention to demand-side, for example, the diffusion of solar windows. On another side, I work with social scientists and use interdisciplinary analysis to better characterise and understand how governance and low-carbon innovations combine and embed into communities, and how options affect social acceptance, or potentially exacerbate or improve inequalities and participation in a renewable energy transition. I have recent publications on the Green New Deal in Canada and Renewable Energy Communities under the new European Clean Energy Package. Additionally, I am co-founder and Chair of the Steering Committee of Women and Inclusivity in Sustainable Energy Research (WISER) Network.
Use the hashtag #WomenInScience with messages that defy gender stereotypes and spread the word on the need to include more women and girls in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields!