‘Canadians have connections to lakes and forests’

Nora Casson, associate professor, Department of Geography

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In October, the University of Winnipeg (U of W) bestowed geography associate professor Dr. Nora Casson with the Erica and Arnold Rogers Award for Excellence in Research and Scholarship.

“It was an incredible honour, particularly because you’re nominated by your colleagues. It means a lot to me to be recognized for the things that I really value,” Casson says.

While growing up, she spent many hours in and around Algonquin Provincial Park and came to love the outdoors.

“I grew up in southern Ontario. I was really fortunate and spent a lot of summers in the forest. I did a lot of canoeing, so I had a lot of exposure to the outdoors and to lakes,” Casson says.

Since joining the U of W geography department in 2014, she has garnered more than $2 million in research grants. Casson and her research group study the ecosystems of lakes, streams and wetlands.

“Ecosystems are really complex, and they’re like puzzles that you have to figure out,” Casson says. “There’s many things that affect how ecosystems work and how lakes and streams work. In order to do that kind of work, you have to collaborate with experts from all kinds of different disciplines, which is really fun.”

Casson is passionate about ecosystems, too. “Lots of Canadians have really strong connections to lakes and to forests. We know that some of our activities can have really negative influences on those ecosystems,” she says.

The award-winning researcher is also involved with the Pathways to Graduate Studies program, which is designed to build community among Indigenous students in science.

“The group of students who have come through that program are really bright, motivated and interesting students who have taken this opportunity and have gone to some really incredible places,” Casson says.

What do you like about Winnipeg?

“My favourite thing about Winnipeg is the rivers that run through it.”

What do you do in your spare time?

“Since moving to Winnipeg, I have gotten into curling. I’m on a curling team with some other faculty members from the U of W.”

What is something you have learned from your students?”

“The students I see are mostly ones who are concerned about the environment and climate change. What that teaches me is (that) even though we’re facing all kinds of challenges as a society, (we should) continue to have hope because of the incredible energy and enthusiasm of those students.”

Published in Volume 77, Number 14 of The Uniter (January 12, 2023)

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