Environmental research at the University of Windsor includes a broad cross-section of researchers, drawing expertise from the Faculties of Science (Biological Sciences, Chemistry and Biochemistry, Earth and Environmental Sciences, the Great Lakes Institute for Environmental Research (GLIER)) and Engineering. University of Windsor scientists are advancing ecological knowledge and developing leading-edge environmental applications of their research and technology. The University of Windsor is strategically located in the Huron-Erie corridor at the center of the Great Lakes in south western Ontario. This area contains a heavily industrialized core surrounded by lands used for intensive agriculture that depend on and impact the quality and health of the Great Lakes.
GLIER was established in 1981 and was expanded in 1993, which led to considerable growth in environmental research across the University. GLIER focuses on multiple stressors with strengths in monitoring and modeling the fate, transport and bioavailability of organic and metal contaminants, the effects of pollutants and multiple stressors on biological processes, vectors and trophic impacts of species invasions, geochemistry, and environmental genomics related to conservation strategies, invasion pathways and adaptive responses to stressors. GLIER has a suite of state-of-the-art laboratories for organic and metal analyses, GIS, evolutionary and conservation genetics, stable isotopes, aquatic ecology, and environmental materials characterization analysis. It also hosts the NSERC-funded Canadian Aquatic Invasive Species Network which was renewed in 2010. GLIER is also home to the NSERC Collaborative Research and Training Experience (CREATE) training network, whose mandate addresses graduate and postdoctoral training in Aquatic Ecosystem Health. This international collaboration was funded in 2011 with $1.9 million in support from NSERC and the University of Windsor.
Research strength in Biological Sciences and Earth and Environmental Sciences include behavioural and evolutionary ecology, conservation genetics, environmental assessment, geofluids, geochemistry and environmental geoscience, environmental genomics and proteomics, reclamation and remediation research and technologies, management and control of invasive species. The Faculty of Science is conducting innovative national and international research in Canada’s Arctic, the oil sands of Alberta, in Indonesia, and in Central and South America.
The University of Windsor’s proximity to the full diversity aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems across the Great Lakes basin is unique in Canada. Evaluation, conservation and sustainability of these systems is fundamentally important to natural resources and regional and national economy. In partnership with the regional government, the University of Windsor has established the Pelee Environmental Research Station in Leamington, Ontario to foster fundamental research, and an aquatic facility in the town of LaSalle, Ontario to enhance specific fish habitat and breeding, an emerging strength in Biological Sciences and GLIER.
Research in the area of environmental remediation is prominent in several disciplines. Engineering research contributes to the development of sustainable green energy sources (solar, wind, biomass, geothermal), environmentally friendly materials and manufacturing processes, and technologies for clean water, air and soil. Engineering has rich history of pioneering leading edge environmental approaches and methods and working with industries and organizations to develop real-world solutions, ranging from: extensive studies into airshed pollution modelling, monitoring, and health effects; the development of efficient fuel production and electricity from waste products; assessing the recovery and recycling of materials from used automobiles; the development of novel techniques to enhance water treatment; the use of enzymes and bacteria to enhance wastewater treatment processes; and the application of environmentally sound engineering principles to enhance quality of life.
Interdisciplinary collaborations between Chemistry and Biochemistry and Environmental Engineering focus on development of new environmentally-friendly processes, clean stoichiometric processes, catalytic chemical and biocatalytic processes for waste water treatment. Some of the applications include production of resins (applications for coatings, metal casting and forest products), petroleum refining and extraction (oil sands remediation) and ethanol production.
These Interdisciplinary collaborations in the area of Environmental and Ecosystems will strengthen the available research infrastructure and facilitate faculty, staff and students from different disciplines to develop multidisciplinary approaches to enhance and sustain a healthy environment and ecosystems.
Studies continue on the environmental impacts that transportation systems have on surrounding communities, resulting in noise pollution, air pollution from combustion, air quality measurement, combustion emissions, and air pollution control. Research on environmental issues continues to be important as we strive to improve our quality of life and that of future generations.