Sept. 22, 2016
Kevin Stevens, an associate professor in Laurier’s Department of Biology, researches wetland plant ecology, both in Northern Canada and in Southern Ontario. He studies everything from rivers, streams, creeks, ponds, lakes or marshland and the factors that impact plant communities.
“Humans are dependent on wetlands for a number of ecological services,” said Stevens. “They are a breeding ground for insects, fish and birds. They support fisheries, diverse wildlife assemblages and we rely on them for cleaning water and buffering areas against storm surges.”
Stevens is a Canadian Rivers Institute associate and works within Laurier’s Centre for Cold Regions and Water Science under the Laurier Institute for Water Science and the Cold Regions Research Centre.
“The facilities we have available to us at Laurier and the support behind these research initiatives helps our work tremendously,” said Stevens.
A large part of his research takes him up north to mines at all different stages of remediation. His group monitors the previous success of restoration efforts, helps develop restoration plans for the future and tries to understand how mines have impacted natural wetlands to plan better for future restoration. Over the last two summers, eight Laurier students conducted research at three different mines throughout the Northwest Territories.
“In some areas mining has had a substantial environmental impact; our goals are to discover what the impacts to the environment are and to help minimize future impacts,” said Stevens.
However, Stevens doesn’t downplay the ample research experiences closer home. His research in Southern Ontario focuses on the Grand River Watershed where he analyses the effects of water quality on vegetation as well as risks facing rare plant species.
He says both his work up north and locally are are unique and exciting opportunities, especially for his undergraduate and graduate students to participate in field research.
“Many students stay at Laurier because they see the opportunities here,” said Stevens. “To be able to come into a research program at the undergraduate level can help further a students’ career substantially. Many of our students, graduate and undergraduate, are winning awards, attending international conferences and doing research work locally and up north. It’s a phenomenal experience for students.”
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