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Inuvik PhD candidate Erika Hille nets $50,000 award for permafrost research

Her work focuses on how permafrost thaws depending on the surrounding terrain
Inuvik-based PhD candidate Erika Hille has been awarded the Garfield Weston Award in Northern Research on July 5 for her work in comparing permafrost thaw in different terrains around the Beaufort Delta and beyond. The honour comes with a $50,000 prize to put towards her education. Screenshot courtesy of Universities Canada

An Inuvik-based PhD candidate has been awarded a $50,000 prize for her research of northern ecosystems and biodiversity.

Western Arctic Research Centre director Erika Hille was named the winner of the Garfield Weston Award in Northern Research July 5 by Universities Canada.

Her research project, “the geochemical responses of Arctic freshwater systems to regional variability in permafrost thaw across the Canadian Arctic,” examines how waterways and basins respond to permafrost thaws, depending on the surrounding terrain. Though her focus is largely on the Beaufort Delta, she is also comparing her findings to other parts of the north less under threat of permafrost thaw, such as the Apex River watershed in Iqualuit and the Meacham River Watershed in Resolute, both in Nunavut. It will help inform future decisions involving water resources in the north.

“We are incredibly proud of Erika Hille and the research she leads at Aurora College,” said Aurora College president Andy Bevan. “Her research is relevant to Northerners, particularly in the Beaufort Delta where the effects of permafrost thaw on freshwater systems are not fully understood. This research will generate applied knowledge in the North, for use by Northerners.

“As Aurora College transitions into a polytechnic university, we will continue to build on our strengths in Northern applied research.”

Hille has lived in Inuvik for over 10 years. Her PhD is through Queens University. In her career, she has also been awarded an Alexander Graham Bell Canadian Graduate Scholarship through the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada and a POLAR Northern Resident Award through Polar Knowledge Canada.

About the Author: Eric Bowling

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