MtA professor receives research funding to study environmental change in Canadian lakes and rivers


Study seeks to find out more about ‘rock snot’ algae and its impact on salmon
SACKVILLE, NB — Mount Allison University geography and environment professor Dr. Joshua Kurek has been awarded over $78,000 from the Canadian Foundation for Innovation (CFI) through the John R. Evans Leaders Fund. The funding was announced by The Honourable Dominic LeBlanc, Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Member of Parliament for Beauséjour, on behalf of the Honourable Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Science, at Mount Allison on April 15, 2016.

With this new research infrastructure funding, Kurek will establish the Environmental Change and Aquatic Biomonitoring Lab (ECAB Lab) at Mount Allison.
“My research program focuses on understanding how environmental stressors impact lakes and rivers,” explains Kurek. “Having essential equipment both in the lab and in the field will allow us to get a better picture of long-term environmental changes and what they mean to freshwaters. I would like to thank the CFI for this support as it helps my program to succeed at a high level.”
“State-of-the-art facilities and equipment help attract and retain top researchers in Canada,” says LeBlanc. “Today’s funding announcement highlights the importance of such infrastructure and its role in contributing to Canada’s record of scientific excellence. ”

Kurek and his research team, made up of several Mount Allison undergraduate students, will be studying lakes and rivers in Maritime Canada this summer. They will be looking specifically at potential impacts of recent environmental changes, including the freshwater algae didymo (commonly known as ‘rock snot’) on juvenile salmon habitat and diet.
“Although their impact on salmon habitat is still under assessment, didymo blooms are believed to be caused by changes in environmental conditions now favoring its bloom proliferation (ie shifts in nutrients and indirect effects of climate change),” explains Kurek. “Impacts to aquatic habitat and biota (e.g. juvenile salmon) are expected if blooms persist.”

Mount Allison University President and Vice-Chancellor Dr. Robert Campbell welcomes the new research funding.

“This kind of investment by the CFI allows researchers like Dr. Kurek to engage in world-class research projects. It also allows our students the opportunity to participate in these research projects as part of their undergraduate education, an invaluable experience.”

Along with the CFI funding, Kurek also holds a Discovery Grant from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) and funding from the New Brunswick Environmental Trust Fund.

Joshua Kurek