Science in Canada’s North

Awards and Fellowships


This prestigious $100,000 prize recognizes significant contributions that have helped to shape our thinking and understanding of the North. Prize winners Dr. Michel Allard (2017), Dr. John England (2016), Dr. Ian Stirling (2015), Dr. Charles Krebs (2014), Dr. John Smol (2013), Dr. Louis Fortier (2012), and Dr. Serge Payette (2011) have all made lasting contributions while cultivating the next generation of northern scientists.

2017 Recipient: Dr. Michel Allard
Professor in the Department of Geography, Laval University

Dr. Michel Allard has been researching the dynamics of permafrost in Nunavik (northern Quebec) for almost four decades. His research has particular application to the unique challenges of building and maintaining transport infrastructure in the north, and to understanding the impact of climate change on the Arctic. He is also recognized for his collaborative approach to working with Inuit communities to ensure research results and solutions are well-understood and practical.

Read more about Dr. Allard and previous recipients of the Weston Family Prize for Lifetime Achievement in Northern Research.



Through a competitive process, awards are presented at the graduate and postdoctoral levels to outstanding students, and are administered by the Association of Canadian Universities for Northern Science (ACUNS) and the Wildlife Conservation Society Canada.

Highlighted here are some of the award recipients who are advancing our understanding of important scientific issues facing the North:


Dr Stirling photo with polar bears - Dec 2015

Dr. Ian Stirling

Department of Biological Sciences

University of Alberta

Dr. Ian Stirling is a Canadian polar marine mammal scientist and a world-renowned authority on polar bears and polar ice-breeding seals. Much of his research has focused on the ecological relationships between polar bears, seals, and sea ice conditions. One significant result was a study published in 1999, which confirmed for the first time that the negative impact of climate warming on polar bears in Western Hudson Bay was statistically significant.


Kelsey Russell

Masters Candidate, Natural Resources and Environmental Studies

University of Northern British Columbia

Kelsey’s research focuses on a woodland caribou herd in west-central Yukon. She is examining the relationship between this herd and fire – how and why these animals use burned areas and how to predict when they can once again become sustainable habitats. Her findings will provide valuable insight into the conservation and management of caribou habitat.

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CALLAGHAN, David website photo

David Callaghan

Masters Candidate, Biological Engineering

University of Manitoba

Increased development and mining in Canada’s North typically impacts water-ways and lakes which, in turn, affect species of fish. David’s research will characterize spawning habitat and behaviour, leading to a better understanding of the reproduction of northern lake trout. He hopes his results will map out ways to conserve and help sustain the diversity of species and northern fisheries.

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BOUCHARD, Frédéric website photo frontal

Dr. Frédéric Bouchard

Postdoctoral Fellow

Université de Montréal

Aquatic ecosystems are integral to biogeochemical cycles. Frédéric’s research in permafrost regions, such as Bylot Island in Nunavut, will help to create an understanding of how the land and water aspects of the carbon cycle respond to permafrost breakdown. This research will also provide insight into how this process will be affected by ongoing and future climate change.

POMERLEAU, Corinne website photo

Dr. Corinne Pomerleau

Postdoctoral Fellow

University of Manitoba

Corinne is studying trophic relationships and the feeding ecology of the bowhead whale and other baleen whales in Baffin Bay in the context of rapid climate change. Her research will aid our understanding of the Eastern Canada-West Greenland bowhead whale population and their place in the food chain.

THOMSON, Laura website photo

Laura Thomson

PhD Candidate, Geography

University of Ottawa

Laura is studying the multi-decadal response of Arctic mountain glaciers to changing climate conditions. Her field work involves installing and servicing weather stations and high-precision GPS stations that monitor ice motion. Laura was also named a Weston Scholar in 2004 through the Canadian Merit Scholarship Foundation.

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BOULANGER-LAPOINTE, Noémie website photo

Noémie Boulanger-Lapointe

PhD Candidate, Geography

University of British Columbia

Noémie’s work centers on the availability and nutritional value of berry species in the Canadian Arctic. She is evaluating environmental and climatic factors in addition to human and animal harvesting affecting four species of berries at the landscape level. This is the largest study done to date adding a wealth of information to knowledge of the Arctic food chain.

YURKOWSKI, David website photo

David Yurkowski

PhD Candidate, Environmental Research

University of Windsor – GLIER

David is studying the ringed seals’ foraging habits, movement and use of habitat as related to the availability of resources and abundance. The ringed seals are an integral part of the Arctic ecosystem as well as the Inuit culture. His research will provide important information about the implications of climate change for this species.

GRABOWSKI, Meagan website photo

Meagan Grabowski

Masters Candidate, Zoology

University of British Columbia

Meagan’s work takes her to the Kluane Region of the Yukon Territory. She is looking at how factors such as nutrients, herbivory and climate affect boreal shrub growth. As temperatures rise, knowledge in this area could be instrumental in projecting future vegetation change and climate feedback.

GALIPEAU, Philippe website photo

Philippe Galipeau

Masters Candidate, Habitat and Wildlife Management

University of Quebec

Philippe is studying the connection between resource selection behaviour and successful reproduction in the rough-legged hawk, the peregrine falcon, the gyrfalcon and the snowy owl in the Canadian High Arctic. This is part of a larger study examining ecological components of birds, such as these, in the context of climate change and industrial development.