Catherine FebriaThe International Association for Great Lakes Research named UWindsor professor Catherine Febria one of the inaugural recipients of its Large Lake Champion Award. Photo by Shayenna Nolan.

Prof recognized as champion of world’s lakes

A University of Windsor professor’s commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion has made her one of the inaugural recipients of the Large Lake Champion Award from the International Association for Great Lakes Research (IAGLR).

The debut award recognizes and honors five individuals whose work has made significant contributions to sharing the social, economic, and ecological understanding of large lakes of the world.

Catherine Febria, Canada Research Chair in Freshwater Restoration, professor of integrative biology, and a researcher with the Great Lakes Institute for Environmental Research, says she was honoured and surprised to receive this recognition, especially along trailblazers who have been doing incredible work for so long.

“This award is one that I share with so many others — team members and community partners — who have all informed and contributed to the work I do to advance and accelerate freshwater restoration research and practice here in the Great Lakes and beyond,” says Dr. Febria.

“I also have much gratitude for the IAGLR committee and community for creating this award, broadening the scope of what we recognize as impact and excellence beyond just western science.”

During the COVID shutdown, Febria transformed the traditional seminar series at GLIER to a tremendously popular Great Lakes-wide international virtual showcase for early career scientists with special attention to justice, equity, diversity, inclusion, and indigeneity as evidenced in this Science Direct publication.

GLIER director Mike McKay says transformation of the seminar series was a silver lining of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The focus on environmental stewardship, sustainability and collaboration across disciplines, networks and communities reflected Dr. Febria’s approach to science and offers a fresh take on how to work together to innovate and solve complex problems, whether they are economic, social or environmental,” says Dr. McKay.

IAGLR awards committee co-chair Neil Rooney says the association applauds Febria’s community-engaged and place-based approach to research that connects land, water, and people: “More and more, this approach is being recognized as necessary to advance and accelerate the science and practice of freshwater restoration and sustainability."

Febria demonstrates commitment to promoting reconciliation not only through her research but also her service.

She helped launch IAGLR’s Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Committee and hosted the first Traditional Ecological Knowledge roundtable at the association’s annual conference. She has also been advancing efforts at the University of Windsor as part of the Faculty of Science’s EDI Task Force, and as associate director of FishCAST, an NSERC-CREATE graduate student training program.

Her award was announced in May at the Joint Aquatic Sciences Meeting in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where she also delivered a plenary lecture.

—Sara Elliott