Dr. Caroline Aubry-Wake (PhD) will receive the 2023 Governor General's Gold Medal at the 2023 University of Saskatchewan (USask) spring convocation June 6.
The award recognizes outstanding academic performance in a graduate program based on a student's thesis, coursework, publications and other criteria. Students in every USask graduate program are eligible to be nominated.
"It is an immense honour to be recognized for my doctoral work and my contributions to academic excellence at USask," said Aubry-Wake. "[This award] validates all the efforts that went toward producing my doctoral thesis and reinforces my belief that my work is making a valuable contribution to the scientific community and society at large."
Aubry-Wake's research focuses on how mountain snow and ice serve as crucial water resources for downstream environments, especially in the context of climate change. Since she was a teenager, Aubry-Wake has been concerned about the consequences of climate change for both human societies and ecosystems, and her research at USask works to investigate and address those concerns.
"I hope that my research will have a meaningful impact on future water security," she said. "My expertise is in combining fieldwork and process-based hydrological modelling at a small scale to understand how water moves in alpine basins. My doctoral work primarily focused on the Peyto Glacier Research Basin in the Canadian Rockies.
"This small-scale work, which is very detailed and specific to that location, then helps us understand how mountains in the Canadian Rockies, and other mountain ranges, behave, and how they are changing in a warming climate. In other words, by knowing a lot about this small area, we can understand a little bit more how all mountains functions, and contribute to the wider understanding of how water moves in the landscape."
Lord Dufferin, Canada's third Governor General after Confederation, created the Academic Medals in 1873 to encourage academic excellence across the nation. Over the years, they have become the most prestigious award that students in Canadian schools can receive.
Aubry-Wake says that the reward is validation for many years of hard work.
"It feels amazing. A PhD journey is hard in the best of cases, and I am really proud of what I accomplished, so seeing it officially recognized by the university feels incredibly rewarding."
Aubry-Wake has also been awarded the 2023 USask Graduate Thesis Award (PhD) in the Social Sciences for outstanding research achievement.
"I had some amazing opportunities during my PhD, such as presenting some of my scientific insights at the World Meteorological Organization for the High Mountain Summit in Geneva in 2019, or meeting Greta Thunberg on her tour of North America and discussing the links between climate change, wildfire activity and glacier melt, but some of my most vivid memories are from spending time with the science community we build at the Coldwater Lab, such as our weekly after-work pond hockey games in Canmore or our lunch-time trail runs!"
Aubry-Wake says she is grateful for all of the support she has had along the way, and that she is proud to be part of the scientific community.
Her PhD was supervised by USask Canada Research Chair in Water Resources and Climate Change, Dr. John Pomeroy (PhD).
"Science is a collaboration! I am very grateful to all the folks who have helped and supported me in this journey. Building a supportive community to help in the good and bad times of the PhD process made all the difference. So I am very excited to share and celebrate this achievement with my friends, family and colleagues."
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