PICS Interns at Work

PICS intern Tristan Douglas (L) meeting with PICS SFU program manager Nastenka Calle (R) and Dr.  Goetz Schuerholz from CERCA (below) on a set of indicators for estuary health and climate change mitigation.

While COVID-19 restrictions have delayed the summer start of some of the 10 PICS internships in 2020, many are underway. Students are working remotely from home and connecting with their supervisors virtually as they conduct research and assist with tasks such as running online workshops, interviews and surveys; their work is helping advance the climate action plans and programs of our solution seeker partners during these extraordinary times. Learn about the work of some of our interns:

Brennan Strandberg-Salmon, a 2nd year SFU student, is helping the BC Council for International Cooperation develop a ‘How-To Guide’ for industry and professional associations, which will help their members mitigate and adapt to the impacts of a changing climate.  He has been researching and consulting associations on the role they can play to respond to the climate emergency. Next up he will be organizing a virtual Roundtable Consultation event involving around 25 representatives from provincial and national associations.  The Guide is set to be published at the end of July 2020. Brennan is majoring in Resource and Environmental Management.

PICS intern Vanshika Jotsinghani (L) meets with Angela Nagy from GreenStep about the EcoFund program

Working all the way from Bombay, Vanshika Jotsinghani, a UBC undergrad majoring in International Economics, is supporting the EcoFund program led by GreenStep. EcoFund is a voluntary program that helps businesses reduce their carbon footprint and save money. Hotels add an eco-fee to hotel stays, which generates an eco-fund used to undertake energy assessments and invest in large energy efficiency projects at their property. Vanshika is helping to analyze the data gathered so far, and measure the impacts of energy efficiency measures on hotels’ energy costs and carbon footprint; she has spotlighted 5 hotel success stories so far, with more hotel evaluations planned for the fall.  

Tristan Douglas, an Earth Ocean and Atmospheric Science Master student at UVic is working with Cowichan Estuary Restoration and Conservation Association (CERCA) on a pilot study to establish a set of indicators for estuary health and climate change mitigation. He helped organize a March workshop with multidisciplinary experts on estuary health, using a climate lens. Working with CERCA he has subsequently helped produce a comprehensive list of estuary health indicators which was reviewed by workshop participants. The goal is that selected indicators will be transferable to other coastal communities on the Pacific coast that are seeking to monitor the impacts of climate change and mitigation strategies on their estuaries in a practical and cost-effective manner. Upcoming work includes the identification of knowledge gaps needed for assessing the health of the Cowichan estuary and its climate change vulnerability, and to help implement a monitoring plan based on the established indicators.

Tristan Flock, a 4th year UBC Engineering student, is working with Engineers and Geoscientists BC to help with the development of their ‘Climate Change Action Plan’ to address climate change issues related to that sector. Much of Tristan’s work takes place in the engagement process, where he listens, records, and relays the climate-related hopes and concerns of professional engineers and geoscientists. So far, he has gained insight into the world of engineering and sustainability, which he hopes to incorporate into his future career.