Postdoctoral Fellow

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Graham Epstein

Postdoctoral Research Fellow, OceanCanada

As an environmental social scientist my research explores a wide range of questions at the intersection of people, the environment and policy. Specifically my research investigates how environmental policies influence behavior and sustainability outcomes in different contexts using both qualitative and quantitative method and seeks to uncover the contexts in which particular policies are likely to increase prospects for sustainability. I completed an undergraduate degree in Ecology at the University of Waterloo, a Master’s in International Rural Planning and Development at the University of Guelph and a PhD at Indiana University. My research has been published in a number of different venues including the International Journal of the Commons, Ecology and Society and Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability.
Email: Graham.Epstein(at)

Current Graduate Students

Mark Andrachuk

Mark Andrachuk

PhD Candidate

Mark Andrachuk has expertise in social-ecological resilience and transformations, governance networks, knowledge systems, and climate adaptation. He has extensive experience working on international projects, multi-disciplinary research teams and contributing to scientific research syntheses and identification of policy priorities. His current doctoral research, based in Vietnam, investigates how fishing communities can create or become more engaged in programs to improve livelihoods and ecological sustainability. This work explores questions about fishers’ perceptions of environmental change, how to further engage fishers in co-management networks, and how successes with small-scale fisheries management in some communities can be spread to other communities. Mark uses a variety of research approaches, including social network analysis, participatory data collection, resilience assessments, and community-based adaptation and vulnerability frameworks. His background in human dimensions of environmental change and natural resource conservation research is complemented by recent work on knowledge mobilization as a means to bridge scientific knowledge for application in policy and practice.
Email: mandrach(at)
Twitter: @markandrachuk


Evan Andrews

PhD candidate

I am interested in how our values and beliefs interact with social-ecological systems to influence our perceptions and responses to environmental change. In my PhD research, I will build a transdisciplinary approach for understanding these interactions in the context of marine systems in the Atlantic Ocean. My goal is to identify pathways for the integration of values and perceptions in environmental governance to enhance the resilience of Atlantic coastal marine systems. Under the supervision of Dr. Derek Armitage, my PhD research is part of the OceanCanada Partnership in which I am collaborating with the Atlantic Working Group to develop broad descriptions and analyses of Atlantic coastal regions. Through my work, I am committed and excited to learning from my colleagues, research and community partners, and mentors to build my skills as a transdisciplinary researcher. I hold a Bachelor of Arts degree in Justice Studies from the University of Regina and a Master of Environment and Sustainability from the School of Environment and Sustainability at the University of Saskatchewan. In addition, I am collaborating on the Delta Dialogue Network, led by Dr. Toddi Steelman, in which we have carried out research about how Indigenous youth can lead sustainability science in the Saskatchewan River Delta. In my spare time, I am writing and reading like crazy, but in my spare, spare time, I am involved in the Canadian water polo community as a domestic and international referee.
Email: e3andrews(at)


Sajida Awan

PhD candidate

After my MBA I became involved with a grass roots level development organization called “SUNGI Development Foundation” which works in some of the most deprived parts of Pakistan, including the earthquake-affected areas. Having gained experience of working in development, I later joined UNICEF where I spent over two and a half years in the Water and Sanitation section, assisting to provide improved facilities throughout the earthquake affected zones as well as promoting better hygiene understanding and practices, focusing primarily on the health and welfare of children and women. Then I joined UNDP, where in my role as Program Associate I was independently as well as in support to other team members worked on Rule of Law, Strengthening democracy through Parliament, Legal Empowerment of the Poor and Election and other governance related projects.
While working with UNDP, in pre-disaster phase in the governance unit, I could see the bad governance challenges in the government sector but working during disaster phase (2010-2012) I could see the governance issues even in the donor as well as NGO sector. This implies that the sustainable development itself has challenges from within. An analysis of this situation has led me to focus my future career goals to further my understanding of Economic Development and Environmental Sustainability, an increasingly important area of study and policy making which seeks to create links between Environmental and Social sustainability, while also ensuring that all development and social planning and interventions contain an aspect or awareness of gender issues.
Email: s9sultan(at)


Samantha Berdej

PhD Candidate

I am originally from rainy Vancouver, BC where I completed a BSc in natural resources conservation at the University of British Columbia. I came out to Waterloo, Ontario to complete a Masters degree at Wilfrid Laurier University and stayed on to do a PhD at the University of Waterloo in the department of geography and environmental management. I am interested in the human dimensions of marine conservation and environmental governance, mainly in developing countries. My current research broadly focuses on finding forms of governance that “fit” complex social-ecological systems, with the aim to understand the enabling role of bridging organizations in multilevel ocean governance in Southeast Asia’s Coral Triangle Initiative.
Email: smberdej(at)
Twitter: @SBerdej

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Irene Brueckner-Irwin

MES candidate

I am a Master’s student in the School of Environment, Resources and Sustainability at the University of Waterloo. Previously, I completed a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Chemistry at Trent University. Broadly, I am interested in reconciling human and environmental needs in changing environments. My research explores the relationship between marine conservation measures and the wellbeing of coastal communities, with a case study focusing on fishing communities in the Outer Bay of Fundy. My research is part of the OceanCanada partnership.
Email: ibrueckn(at)
Twitter: @iebrueck


Cheryl Chan

MES Candidate

Originally from Toronto, Ontario, I studied biology and education concurrently at Queen’s University; completing a B.Sc.H. in 2009, and a B.Ed. in 2010. After graduating, I pursued an interest in international education by moving to Nanjing, China, where I taught at a Canadian international school. Since returning to Canada, I have gained experience in restoration ecology by engaging in field work, and collaborating with stakeholders on a variety of restoration projects through Niagara College’s Ecosystem Restoration program. These opportunities have allowed me to better understand how communities interact with ecosystems, and how these types of relationships might be articulated or represented. Currently, I am an MES student at the University of Waterloo. My research explores some of the connections between ecosystem services and social well-being in coastal communities


Kara Cox

MES Candidate (Co-supervised with Dr. Simon Courtenay, University of Waterloo)

I am a Masters student in the School of Environment Resources and Sustainability, in the Combined Water Program. Previously I completed my Honours Bachelor of Environmental Earth Science at Lakehead University. My undergraduate thesis focused on monitoring the stability and viability of a remediated stream in Nipigon Bay, focusing on Coaster Brook Trout habitat requirements and stream morphology. I am interesting in creating true sustainability and working towards repairing current environmental damage and preventing future problems where possible. My research will focus on micro plastic pollution in freshwater systems and the impacts associated with micro plastics.
Email: k5cox(at)

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Thomas Dyck

PhD Candidate (Co-supervised with Dr. Ryan Plummer, Brock University)

I am a PhD candidate in the Department of Geography and Environmental Studies at Wilfrid Laurier University. I am interested in collaboration, community engagement, knowledge, and the evolving ways that communities participate in environmental resource governance and the multi-level implications on social, political, cultural, and environmental contexts. My current research involves a collaborative research partnership with three Ontario First Nation communities to examine adaptive forms of water governance. This research examines community perspectives and approaches to water governance, shedding light on the challenges on opportunities for addressing the complex and uncertain water issues confronting First Nations. Prior to my PhD, I worked within the Ontario Ministry of Environment focused on source water protection. I received my MA in Geography at the University of Hong Kong, where I completed a dissertation on the economic and environmental outcomes of land policy and land use change in China. I currently sit on the Canadian Water Network Student and Young Professional Committee as the Social Media and Communications Coordinator.
Email: dyck3730(at)
Twitter: @thomasdyck

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Ana Carolina Esteves Dias

PhD Candidate

I am originally from Brazil, where I graduated from the State University of Campinas in 2012 with a four years degree in Biology. I also hold a degree in Biology Education and a MSc. in Ecology from the same University. Since 2016, I am a PhD candidate at the University of Waterloo. Through my years of studying, I became fascinated by the research field in Applied Ecology and interdisciplinary research concerning social and environmental issues. My primary research interest lies in human and environmental interactions, especially regarding environmental governance towards social and ecological sustainability. I understand that human well-being depends on nature, and nature is affected by human actions. Therefore, humans and nature may be considered as two subsystems of the same social-ecological system. My motivation in this field is to identify which elements combine to generate a balance between nature conservation and human well-being and how these could be applied to environmental governance. I am also engaged with outreach activities at the coastal zone in order to foster environmental stewardship and local development.
Email: acesteve(at)

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Fatima (Noori) Khan

MES Candidate

Having always been interested in the environmental field, I learned to define my interests in the academic world at York University while completing a Bachelor in Environmental Studies along with a Minor in Anthropology. Diving deeper into my passion for the environment, I am pursuing a MES in the School of Environment, Resources and Sustainability at the University of Waterloo. Working with a collaborative research team, I am focusing on how environmental changes are understood by the people directly affected. My interests include uncovering realities of complex socio-ecological systems and cultures, sharing narratives and histories of human interaction with resources, and empowering locals as agents of change. My research site is located on the East-Coast of India where I will be exploring how my interests are woven within changes in coastal communities.
Email: fnkhan(at)


Danielle Lindamood

MES candidate

Originally from California, I am pursuing a Master’s in Environmental Management in the Sustainability Management program at University of Waterloo. After completing two bachelors’ degrees at California Lutheran University in Global Studies and French, I worked in The Gambia with Agua Inc, an international development group focusing on sustainable water projects. My professional and academic interests in the intersection of environmental problems, business, and international development brought me to the School of Environment, Enterprise, and Development at University of Waterloo. I use social-ecological systems to examine the relationship between environment, enterprise and development in developing nations with a particular focus on the emerging influence of social enterprise.
Email: dlindamood(at)


Dulguun Maidar

MES Candidate

My name is Dulguun Maidar and I am from Mongolia, an Asian country situated between Russia and China. In recent years mining industry is growing in exponential rate attracting investments, bringing development. On the other hand, this development endangers the traditional land using culture and lack of knowledge dealing with international business environment, and has put Mongolia in an awkward position. Observing all the change happening, pushed me to get interested environmental field and stakeholder engagement methods to bring every side of the certain issue to the table. To briefly introduce my academic background, I obtained my undergraduate degree at the Hunter College of City University of New York double majoring in Political Science concentrated in United States Politics and Economics. As a young man wishing to make my own contribution to facilitate resolving some of above challenges, I entered Master of Environmental Studies in Sustainability Management degree program.
Email: dmaidar(at)


Bradley May

PhD Candidate

I have been a part-time PhD candidate since 2010. My interests are in climate change adaptation, risk management, natural hazards, and most recently, adaptation leadership. I started on this journey back in 1978 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Geography (with courses in archaeology) from Wilfrid Laurier University. From there I moved to the University of Toronto and finished a Master of Arts at the Institute for Environmental Studies in 1984. I have recently retired from the federal civil service, with expertise in both project and program management. I also actively participate in Brock University’s Environmental Sustainability Research Centre (ESRC) and their Sustainability Science and Society (SSAS) Master’s program.
Email: b3may(at)
Twitter: @BradKMay