Head of Lab: Dr. Melanie Zurba

Professor Zurba’s work focuses on projects that are developed and implemented in collaboration with communities. Professor Zurba has worked collaboratively with Indigenous communities in Canada and abroad on projects focusing on co-management of species and protected areas, shared forest tenure agreements, Clean Environment Commission hearings for water regulation, land use and occupancy mapping studies, food sovereignty, health promotion and wellbeing, and land-based learning and curriculum development. Her work has also contributed to public discussion on what “reconciliation” means in Canada through her work on learning and relationship building through the shared-governance of land. Professor Zurba is also interested in how global policy frameworks affect community participation in the day-to-day management of the environment.

Polina Baum-Talmor

Polina is a Social Scientist with over 12 years of qualitative and quantitative research experience, and she is currently a Research Associate in Dr. Zurba’s Lab. Her research focuses on flexible employment, multifaceted aspects of food in the workplace, the interactions between coastal and seagoing communities in relation to food and the impact of digitalization on skills and training. She studies the often-under-researched group of people who operate ships, namely seafarers. She developed a genuine interest in seafarers after finishing her BA, which almost led to her joining the maritime industry as a Merchant Navy officer.

Polina’s PhD (2018) from Cardiff University (UK), focused on careers and labor market flexibility in global industries, using the case of seafarers. Polina also holds an MA in Anthropology (2012), and a BA in Sociology, Anthropology and Human Resources (2009) from the University of Haifa (Israel). Polina is an Associate Fellow at the Seafarers International Research Centre (SIRC), Cardiff University (UK) and a Research Associate at the Haifa Research Center for Maritime Policy and Strategy (Israel). She previously worked as a Postdoctoral Researcher at Solent University in the UK. More information can be found on https://www.linkedin.com/in/polinabaumtalmor/.

Julie Marie Hyde

A pracademic with an interdisciplinary scholarly upbringing, Julie draws upon the fields of peace and conflict studies, critical childhood studies, postcolonial studies, and educational studies to explore the lived experiences of young people in educational, community, and organizational settings—highlighting how they contribute to their sociopolitical worlds.

She holds a doctorate in Peace and Conflict Studies from the University of Manitoba as well as a Masters in Peace Education from the UN-mandated University for Peace. Her dissertation research (Troubling pathways: Exploring experiences of young people in Winnipeg’s inner city through a peace & conflict studies frame) employed arts-based narrative methods to examine the perceptions and experiences of Indigenous and newcomer students in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Currently, as a Mitacs-funded postdoctoral fellow, she is undertaking a multi-partner research project exploring the child/youth engagement practices employed by Canadian conservation organizations

Melika Habibi

In 2016, Melika completed her master’s degree in International Law at the University of Tehran. In her thesis, she explored how ill-conceived environmental policies, environmental mismanagement, and ignoring Indigenous peoples rights could threaten international peace. Currently, she is pursuing an Interdisciplinary PhD under the supervision of Dr. Melanie Zurba and Dr. Ryan Bullock at Dalhousie University. Her doctoral research will contribute to the exploration of international guiding frameworks for protected areas and their affect on the development and implementation of Indigenous-led protected areas in Canada. She will also explore how Indigenous leaders in Canada participate in the development of international guiding frameworks for protected areas and identify barriers, opportunities, challenges and benefits to their participation in terms of Indigenous-led protected area development in Canada. Melika’s doctoral research seeks to build on such concepts as: ways of empowerment, equity, and active, and deliberate involvement of new Indigenous-sourced knowledge, all as part of meaningful inclusion of Indigenous peoples in decision-making, supported by ‘collaborative environmental governance’.

Michael Anaba

Michael is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Interdisciplinary Studies from the University of New Brunswick under the supervision of Dr. David Busolo and Dr. Melanie Zurba. He holds a Master of Science degree in Epidemiology from the University of Witwatersrand, South Africa and a Bachelor of Science degree in Public health and Nursing from Catholic University College in Ghana. Michael worked in his home country- Ghana, as a registered nurse and clinical research associate in South Africa, where he was involved in clinical research on cancer prevention and control. Michael has a particular interest in the potential for interdisciplinary approaches to reducing health disparities among immigrants and refugees. His doctoral research focuses on using community-based participatory research approaches to understand the nature-based program’s role in improving Syrian youth’s health and well-being.

Jessica Campese

Jess (she / her) is currently pursuing an interdisciplinary PhD at Dalhousie University, working within the Sustainable Nunatsiavut Futures (SNF) project and under the supervision of Dr. Melanie Zurba and Dr. Jörn Schmidt. As a social science practitioner, she has been working collaboratively with communities and civil society groups at the local, national and international scales on research, policy and action for equitable and effective environmental governance for over 15 years. The main focus of this collaborative work has been Indigenous-and community-led and engaged governance. She has lived throughout the southeastern United States, as well as in Tanzania and Switzerland. Her undergraduate (New College of Florida) and master’s (Sanford School of Public Policy, Duke University) theses focused on collaborative governance of marine and coastal resources. As a Fulbright scholar, she researched and co-developed resources on human-rights based conservation approaches, including in relation to equitable power- and knowledge-sharing. In her PhD research, Jess will be exploring learning processes and outcomes in relation to governance and knowledge co-production.

Emily Wells

Emily (she/her) is a biologist-turned-social scientist who is pursuing her Master of Environmental Studies under the supervision of Dr. Kate Sherren with Dr. Melanie Zurba as a committee member. She is largely interested in the cultural, political, and social nuances of environmental management as well as community-based and participatory methods. Her thesis work seeks to assess relational values and trade-offs in Dykeland management along Nova Scotia’s Bay of Fundy coast. Emily’s research background spans 10 years and multiple fields: beginning in genetics, she later worked in behavioral ecology and biogeography laboratories before settling into interdisciplinary marine studies. She has multiple peer-reviewed publications on the topics of plastic pollution, equity in science, and more. Parallel to research, Emily is passionate about participatory learning: she has worked in education for seven years, engaging youth in environmental stewardship and leading English-as-Second Language (ESL) workshops. Emily is a settler from the ancestral homelands of the Beothuk (Conception Bay, Newfoundland) and is currently a grateful visitor in Mi’kma’ki.

Morgan Brimacombe

Morgan (she/her) is pursuing a Master of Environmental Studies with the Community Engaged Co-Lab under the supervision of Dr. Melanie Zurba and Dr. David Busolo. Deeply interested in interdisciplinary approaches to environmental sustainability and social justice, Morgan obtained her Bachelor of Arts degree with a major in Global Studies from Vancouver Island University. Her interests lie in the nuances of environment, equality, and wellbeing using collaborative and creative research. She brings her experiences engaging in community groups and artistic spaces to help create dialogues around climate grief and emotional resiliency in new and changing environments.

Ahmad Hameed

Ahmad is pursuing his Master of Environmental Studies through the Community-Engaged CoLab under the supervision of Dr. Melanie Zurba. With background both in the natural and social sciences, he is interested in interdisciplinary approaches to environmental crises. Ahmad completed his Bachelor of Science with majors in Environmental Sciences and Sociology and a minor in Political Science at Forman Christian College in Lahore. His research interests lie primarily in the socio-political dimensions of the environment with a close focus on issues of environmental justice and equity, Indigenous governance, climate change, and community participation in decision-making. In the Community-Engaged CoLab, his research focuses on designing governance frameworks for protected areas with meaningful Indigenous participation.

Tyler Doucet

Tyler (he/him) is a Master of Environmental Studies student under the supervision of Dr. Peter Duinker with Dr. Melanie Zurba as a committee member. He completed his Bachelor of Urban Forestry at the University of British Columbia. It was there that Tyler developed research interests in urban forest resilience, municipal forest management, environmental governance, and the intersection of those three topics. Tyler’s current research explores participation in urban-forest governance and NGOs’ contributions in municipal forest governance processes, programs, and decision-making.

Armand McFarland

Armand graduated from the University of Guelph with an Honours BSc, majoring in Marine and Freshwater Biology. He has worked in California drafting reports evaluating the effectiveness of marine protected areas (MPAs) and volunteering as a lab technician identifying krill, studying eelgrass beds, and working aboard a vessel monitoring Californian MPAs. Armand is now a candidate for a Masters in Marine Management in the Marine Affairs Program at Dalhousie University.

Armand is interested in effective and equitable MPAs, and hopes to develop his knowledge and skill set to preserve and improve on the efficacy of these spaces. He is further interested in Indigenous Knowledge Systems and their importance for marine conservation. Armand is currently researching the development of an Indigenous co-governance framework in MPAs managed by Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

Aden Morton-Ferguson

Aden (he/him) is a Master of Environmental Studies student under the supervision of Dr. Melanie Zurba. He graduated his undergraduate degree with a Bachelor of International Development Studies, with a specific emphasis in Environment and Development from the University of Guelph. Aden has always been interested in and concerned with the well-being of both human beings and the environment. He is particularly interested in the relationship between humans and the natural environment. His current research interests are related to understanding the human experiences of environmental issues, the importance of Indigenous knowledge and governance, and community-engagement.

Sophie Boardman

Sophie Boardman (they/she) is a returning lab member who spent the past 2 years serving as an AmeriCorps VISTA member at a community health center. She is excited to return to Dalhousie to pursue her Master of Environmental Studies under the supervision of Dr. Melanie Zurba working with the Conservation through Reconciliation (CRP) partnership. Sophie completed her Combined Honours Degree in Environment, Sustainability, Society (ESS) and Environmental Science at Dalhousie University in 2020. Dr. Melanie Zurba supervised her Honours Thesis which explored the Indigenous Circle of Experts (ICE) governance outcomes of social learning through their work with Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas (IPCAs). Sophie has community engaged work and research experience in Mi’kma’ki and Cambodia. Her masters will be exploring Indigenous and stakeholder relationships around the governance of IPCAs across Canada.

Kateryna Rudenko

Kateryna Rudenko is a student in her last year of Bachelor in International Relations at the National University of “Kyiv-Mohyla Academy”, Ukraine. She lives in Halifax and works in the Community Engaged Co-Lab as an intern funded by Mitacs, a nonprofit Canadian research organization. She deals with analyzing the spaces created for dialogue around environmental issues that can contribute towards marginalization and tries to find the ways in which discourses can be altered to restore social justice. She studies how Ukrainian-Canadians have adapted to Canada after migrating in the XIX-XX centuries, precisely how they make nature a medium of expressing their nostalgia in the folk culture and try to recreate their homeland while cultivating foreign soil. As a huge number of Ukrainians cross the Canadian border and people of Ukrainian origin feel magnetized towards their root, this topic is gaining new meanings.