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Water researchers land at Queen’s

Conference encourages graduate students from around the world to network and share their work with peers.

One hundred graduate students from around the globe will visit Queen’s for the student-run Water Initiatives for the Future (WatIF) conference. Students from a wide range of disciplines will come together over four days to confront the challenges and opportunities for the future of the world’s water supply.

This is the first year WatIF will include international graduate students. Donya Danesh, PhD’17, the chair and co-founder of WatIF, says organizers broadened the scope of the conference after seeing how participants benefited from interacting with and seeing presentations by peers in different fields during previous year’s events.

“There were students in the chemistry or biology departments who were doing almost the same research but from different perspectives. They found themselves stumped by certain components of their work,” says Ms. Danesh.  “They’d see a presentation by someone in a different field and, all of the sudden, they’d have the answer they were looking for. That was just on Queen’s campus. Imagine the lack of communication between disciplines in general when it comes to studying water.”

Group photo of the WatIF 2014 delegates. This year's conference will welcome graduate students from around the globe to discuss water research. (Supplied Photo)

Students will participate in a number of guided events, panel discussions and keynote speeches July 27-29. Highlights of the conference include a climate action workshop hosted by Sustainable Kingston, a full day of activities and facilitation focused on interdisciplinary dialogue hosted by Waterlution, and keynote addresses by Queen’s ecologist John Smol, Lisa Guppy, program director with the United Nations University Institute for Water, Environment and Health, and Michael Steger, professor of applied social psychology at Colorado State University.

Attendees who arrive the day before will also have the option of taking part in a free pre-conference field trip sponsored by Utilities Kingston. Delegates will receive a guided tour of the Ravensview Waste Water Treatment Plant, one of the most environmentally sound plants of its type in North America.

On the final day of the conference, participants will have the chance to sit in on student presentations by their peers. Each group of presenters has been divided into separate themes – discussing the socio-economic impact of water supply, the role of the water supply in our ecosystems, and the effect of the oil, gas and energy industries.

For more information about the Water Initiative for the Future, or the conference, please visit the website.