This past June saw the inaugural Water & Environment Student Talks (WEST), a water conference convening graduate students and young professionals from across the Pacific Northwest. WEST hosted over 35 student talks on water treatment, stormwater management, water pollution control and water policy. The conference team also brought in David Anderson, a former federal Environment Minister, Drs. Kathryn Harrison and John Grace from UBC, Jack Cooley from the Squamish Streamkeepers Society, and Jana McLean, an environmental lawyer, to bring valuable insight and seasoned perspectives to the event.
The conference was a concerted effort by a team of graduate students in the civil and chemical engineering departments to bring the water community together. From their perspective, the Pacific Northwest is an important hub for water and water research and UBC’s Civil and Chemical Engineering Departments are strong contributors to that hub. The departments have produced interesting research in nutrient recovery, drinking water treatment and appropriate technology for small communities, however, the team wanted to go beyond the walls of the engineering faculty and connect with researchers in other departments at UBC, other universities in Vancouver and beyond! The conference was designed to showcase this research by creating a space to give graduate students opportunities to present their work to their peers.
The feedback received from delegates has been so positive that the organizers are already preparing for next year’s event. The team hopes that the conference will become an annual event and will grow to include other researchers and young professionals in the region, building and strengthening an effective interdisciplinary water community. Thanks to all the sponsors and partners for their generous contributions that made WEST possible. The team is looking forward to seeing you next year at Water & Environment Student Talks 2015!
BY: Aline Bennett, Laith Furatian & Chris Lawson