School of Graduate Studies

School of Graduate Studies
School of Graduate Studies

Getting to the Core of Climate Change

​Donya Danesh’s academic work focuses on long-term climate impacts to fresh water resources. But her world has long been organized around water – the child of two environmental engineers, she learned at a very young age from the intrinsic value of water and the “things” that live within it. This was the start of a life-long journey.

“As part of my PhD program in Biology at Queen’s, I am making the study of water my profession—and it is the perfect fit for me”, Donya confirms. Together with her supervisor, Professor Brian Cumming, she researches the long-term climate impacts on fresh water resources. “We study lakes in the transitional region between Manitoba’s prairies and Ontario’s boreal forest to get a better understanding of climate development in the last 10,000 years. This research is critical to determine how to preserve water as a valuable resource.”

Collaboration has long been a valuable way for Donya to get research done. That’s how she co-founded (and currently chairs) the now hugely successful Water Initiative for the Future (WatIF): Graduate Student Conference. “I wanted to make new connections” she explains, “and so in 2013 I signed up to help run a local water symposium for grad students at Queen’s and RMC in hopes of making new friends and becoming a part of the community.”

The results were fantastic. Students from Queen’s and the Royal Military College came out in droves, and the atmosphere was vibrant, hopeful, and inspired. “If this could happen at Queen’s,” Donya and her co-organizers wondered, “imagine what could happen across Canada?” It was then that they decided to create a conference, and so a one-off symposium became WatIF, which grew to national, and this year, for the first time, international proportions.

In the spirit of spreading ideas that matter, Donya’s current dream is to give a TED talk. “Really all I want to do is work hard and empower the people around me and live by what I say. If I can lead by example I can help people to become the best versions of themselves, to feel empowered, and inspired.”