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Last PERG Bulletin
August 8, 2019

The second issue of the 2019 edition of the newsletter Écho tourbières was published. This newsletter is intended for anyone interested in the world of peatlands.

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Groupe de recherche en écologie des tourbières

From guts and soils: the Arctic Microbiome International PhD School in Whapmagoostui-Kuujjuarapik
July 24, 2019
Photo: © Pierre Coupel/Sentinelle Nord – Université Laval

This July, 18 PhD students from 10 nations and all continents and 12 mentors took on a plane early morning from Quèbec to fly their way to Whapmagoostui-Kuujjuarapik. The mission was attending the International PhD School “Arctic Microbiomes” organized by Sentinelle Nord by the Université Laval.

What brought us all together is the shared interest in microbial life (organisms invisible to the bare eye, including bacteria, phytoplanktonic algae, fungi and viruses). These omnipresent groups of life are known to effect human well-being since centuries. Therefore, many technologies in the field of microbiology are usually driven by the need to understand illnesses as well as the effect of microbes in our intestines on our health. Nevertheless, the presence and effect of microbial life in our ecosystems, is often still a mysterious black box. Among the lecturers and students, hence a diversity of fields came together from analytical chemistry to astrobiology and remote sensing to finally several flavors of Arctic and Antarctic microbiology to understand and research the status of the “unseen” life in the Canadian Arctic.

For 10 days we experienced the whole range of fieldwork during wild weather conditions and had the chance to board a helicopter to see rare permafrost sites, took on a boat into the ice-sheet filled Hudson Bay, measured soil contamination and sampled salad-sized assemblies of cyanobacteria (single cell organisms forming thick mats here). All this was possible through the guidance and input of some of the most renowned mentors in these fields as well as the latest state of technology – despite the otherwise remote settings of the CEN station. This enabled us – within 2 days after sampling – to sequence metagenomes and thereby draw conclusions on the communities from all sampled sites.

Also, we all connected on more than a professional level, when sharing community meals in the infamous kitchen, fighting off swarms of mosquitos and black flies, having the honor to join Cree gathering and teepee building, roasting sausages at camp fire, exchanging languages and reaching out to the locals in a small science workshop in the supermarket. This school fused personal and professional scientific interest with understanding our research’s impact on local communities. Science communication was not just enacted here to curious children’s eyes, but also in a live-streaming to visitors from the National History Museum London, just before enjoying a great last day by the Hudson Bay, watching the ice melting and dripping in the sun.

Maria Scheel (doctorante à l'Université d'Aarhus, Danemark)

CEN members honoured for their invaluable contribution to research
June 21, 2019

CEN researcher Monique Bernier becomes the first woman to receive the prestigious Larry Morley Gold Medal from the Canadian Society for Remote Sensing. Professor Bernier has maintained close ties with the Society throughout her career, including chairing it from 2009 to 2014. The Society acknowledges Ms. Bernier's exemplary contribution to the remote sensing sector in Canada as a researcher, professor and through her unifying involvement in several organizations, including the Association Québécoise de télédétection.


Researcher Warwick F. Vincent had the honour of being one of the first four recipients of the Helmholtz International Fellow Award, and the accompanying €20,000 prize. The Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres awards this prize to renowned foreign researchers who collaborate with one of the Helmholtz research centres. Professor Vincent is collaborating with the Alfred Wegener Institute to better understand the effects of climate change on northern geo-ecosystems.


Five new data publications on Nordicana D!
June 19, 2019

In order to cope with the increase in the amount of data generated by CEN's work and to meet a growing demand for access to it, CEN has set up the Nordicana D collection. This collection, produced solely in electronic form, is freely accessible, via the Internet, to CEN researchers and to all other users interested in CEN's work. Thanks to the work of Luc Cournoyer, technical editor of Nordicana D, and teams of researchers, five additional datasets have very recently been added to the collection. You will find reproductive monitoring data for avian predators, arctic foxes and red foxes on Bylot Island, gas concentrations in thermokarst pools in Nunavik, beach ridge locations in the Champlain Sea and permafrost geochemistry.

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Second edition of the CÉGEP A-Laurendeau's Northern Project
June 17, 2019

For the second edition of the Northern Project, six students enrolled at Cégep André-Laurendeau in Chemistry and Biology Completion Project stayed in Whapmagoostui-Kuujjuarapik, Nunavik. An internship from June 4 to June 17, 2019 was conducted in partnership with the CEN to apply the knowledge acquired during this course. The two chemistry students focused on the detection and extraction of contaminants from car batteries, specifically lead and sulphuric acid batteries. On the biological side, the students focused on the inauguration of a community greenhouse containing two growing systems, one hydroponic and the other in soil enriched with mycorrhizae. After designing and building both systems from recycled materials, the community was invited to visit the community greenhouse at an open house on Wednesday, June 12. The knowledge acquired about hydroponic and enriched soil plant cultivation was transferred to the community to enable them to maintain a successful community greenhouse. The residents of Whapmagoostui - Kuujjuarapik have also been made more aware of the environmental importance of battery recycling. The students greatly appreciated their experience and thanked the CEN for their warm welcome. 

Comité Projet Nord

CEN Shares its Northern Expertise with Future Researchers
May 30, 2019

The CEN greatly contributed to mentoring a course entitled Introduction to Northern Research Issues organized by the INQ from May 6 to 10, 2019 in Quebec City. The course objectives were to fully prepare researchers to work in a northern context, in difficult field conditions, and to help them learn how to establish meaningful relationships and partnerships with northerners. Nine of the 22 mentors were CEN members, including establlished researchers, research staff and grad students. CEN was able to share its northern expertise and know-how, and therefore contribute to the training of future northern researchers!


Latest edition of the CEN bulletin
April 23, 2019

You will find lots of fresh news from CEN members in the latest edition of the Bulletin!

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