Celebrating Earth Day 2015 with Student Researcher Katharine Woodford

The Verschuren Centre at Cape Breton University envisions a world where clean technologies, low carbon energy and sustainable food production support resilient economies and communities and where poverty and environmental degradation are eliminated. The Centre believes in partnerships – we are inclusive and entrepreneurial.  Part of  its mission is to contribute to the industrial, social and economic renaissance of Cape Breton Island and Nova Scotia.

To a large extent, this involves creating innovative solutions to some of Cape Breton Island’s legacy challenges  – the remains from years of industrial activity – steel making and mining.   Once the solutions are determined, we need checks and balances to ensure we are on the right track.  Earlier this year one of CBU’s science students, Katharine Woodford, began a study to evaluate the health of a local fish species exposed long-term to passively-treated mine water.   Katharine grew up in Glace Bay, an area surrounded by coal mining activity; she is hopeful that her research will have a positive impact on her hometown.  Under the supervision of VC’s Chair of Environmental Remediation, Dr. Ken Oakes, and collaborations with several VC staff, Katharine performed extensive fieldwork, sampling from Gardiner Mines and Cadegan Brooks (receiving mine water) and Southwest Brook (no mine water), and evaluating the samples.

Fish health is an excellent indicator of biological integrity and tells us if the processes used to remediate industrial areas are working or if adjustments are required.   People depend upon research such as this to provide the best course of action in making their communities healthy and sustainable.   We are looking forward to hearing the results of Katharine’s study.  Her work is making a positive impact and helping us to become part of the solution.