Happy rocks, happy climbers: Towards sustainable impacts of outdoor rock climbing in Nova Scotia
Project leads: Heather Cray and Alana Westwood
Project contact: Heather Cray
Bouldering, top-rope, and other outdoor climbing styles are growing in popularity across Nova Scotia and the world. However, more hands and feet on the trails and rocks often means more ecological impacts. While some outdoor climbing spaces are located on public lands, many are privately-owned spaces where access is granted by the grace of landowners, contingent upon good behaviour and responsible stewardship of the space. In the absence of good climbing and approach practices, we risk not only losing access to these places, but also their physical and ecological deterioration. This project seeks to 1) evaluate the current and historical conditions of popular outdoor climbing places in Nova Scotia, 2) determine current stewardship practices of climbers, and 3) identify community-led solutions to identified challenges.
If you are interested in applying to lead this project, please send an email to Dr. Heather Cray and include a letter of interest, CV, and unofficial academic transcripts.
Learn more about the SRES Research Legacy Scholarship and Dalhousie admission criteria for Master of Environmental Studies students.
Information for Prospective Students
Prospective students and postdocs
Thank you for your interest in joining our research group! Even when there are no funded opportunities posted, we welcome members who bring their own project ideas to the lab. Though most professors receive a large volume of inquiries from prospective students, each lab only has a few spaces available.
The Westwood Lab is committed to research grounded in application and coproduction. Here you will grow your skills in research, leadership, communication, project management, and thinking critically about pressing environmental challenges. We also commit to ensuring all graduate students receive a minimum stipend.
If you would like to express interest in joining the Westwood Lab for your studies, send an inquiry email to a.westwood[at]dal[dot]ca which includes:
- A brief description of your interests.
- Any particular research questions. You do not need a fully developed idea, but demonstrate that you’ve thought about potential topics. Even better, make a clear link to past research by Dr. Westwood or other lab members (see the lab page on ResearchGate or individual members’ profiles on Google Scholar).
- The methods you might use to answer this question. Examples include field research, geomatics/GIS, social science, or a blend of methods. If possible, link to methods used in the past by lab members.
- Any experience you have sharing your work with public audiences or working with non-academic groups (e.g. government agencies, Indigenous communities, industry). If you don’t yet have this experience, are you open to gaining it?
- A CV or resume and transcripts (unofficial are fine). Indicate what your GPA is out of (e.g. 4.5, 10, 4).
- Tell us what funding opportunities will you apply for, and when they are due. For ideas, see the Faculty of Graduate Studies page or Dr. Aerin Jacob’s extensive list (which also includes prizes and awards).
- Tell us how your approach to research aligns with the lab’s values.
- The subject line of your email must include the word K’jipuktuk (the L’nui’simk word for the place also known as Halifax, located on the unceded territory of the Mi’kmaq). Inquiries without this word in the subject line may be deleted without response.
Important things to know when developing your inquiry:
Undergraduate thesis students
Generally, an undergraduate thesis is completed during fall and winter semester. Ideally, you will spend the preceding spring and summer collecting data and are paid for doing so. To be eligible for funding to support your research (for example, an Undergraduate Student Research Award), it is best to get in touch with your prospective supervisor by January or February before your thesis year.
Dr. Westwood supervises students in the Master’s of Environmental Studies (MES) program, so be sure you are familiar with its requirements. Though the program begins each September, scholarship applications close at the end of November of the previous year. If your project does not have prior funding, Dr. Westwood will help you to craft a scholarship application. It is best to contact a prospective supervisor at least a year before you plan to start your Master’s.
Dr. Westwood supervises and co-supervises students in the Interdisciplinary PhD (IDPhD) program. This challenging but highly rewarding program prepares scholars to tackle cross-cutting, real-world problems. Admissions can be any term, but in order to apply, prospective students must first assemble a proposal and committee. If your project does not have prior funding, Dr. Westwood will support your scholarship applications (due in December). It is best to contact a prospective supervisor at least a year before you intend to start your PhD.
Postdoctoral fellows hold a senior role within the lab and as such, are expected to demonstrate considerable leadership. If not joining through a funded opportunity, be specific about what funding sources you will apply for and be prepared to lead the application (with Dr. Westwood’s support).