Research Interests

Research Interests​

My main research interests are: (1) the effect of landscape disturbance (e.g. forestry, agriculture, mining, urbanisation, wildfire, climate change) on the behaviour, fluxes and fate of water, sediment and chemicals in the environment at a range of time and space scales; and (2) the development of appropriate information and advice for improved management of land and water resources. Specific interests include:

  • Landscape disturbances on aquatic systems
  • Effects of wildfire and forest disturbance on soil erosion and sediment fluxes
  • Sediment sources, transport, storage and budgets
  • Sediment management in river basins
  • Environmental fallout radionuclides and other environmental tracers
  • Sediment fingerprinting
  • Nutrients and contaminants in soils, sediments and waters
  • Mountain geomorphic processes
  • Ecology-water-sediment interactions

Selection of present and recent research projects

Forest Renewal British Columbia (FRBC) Endowed Research Chair Operating Grant (2007 – ongoing) – several projects including: sediment fingerprinting in Canadian watersheds; sources of sediment in proglacial environments; impacts of wildfire on soil erosion and fine-grained sediment dynamics in forested aquatic systems; composition and quality of urban street sediment in Prince George and its impact on air and water quality. Funds: ~$500,000.

NSERC Discovery Grant – Advancing techniques to fingerprint sediment sources in disturbed watersheds. Project team: P.N. Owens, PI. Duration: 2018 – 2023 (5 years). Funds: $180,000.

Nechako Environmental Enhancement Fund (NEEF) – Integrated watershed research in the Nechako river basin: Phase 1 and 2. Project team: Stephen Déry, Phil Owens, Margot Parkes and Ellen Petticrew (all UNBC). Duration: 2014 – 2022 (9 years). Funds: ~$1,000,000 from NEEF with ~$1,000,000 as matched funding from other sources.

Environment and Climate Change Canada, Environmental Damages Fund – Evaluating the resiliency of aquatic ecosystems to a catastrophic mine tailings spill event: the 2014 Mount Polley incident in the Quesnel River watershed, British Columbia: Phase 1 and 2. Project team: UNBC (Ellen Petticrew (PI), Phil Owens, Stephen Déry), UBC (Sue Baldwin, Bernard Laval), U of Lethbridge (Greg Pyle). Duration 2016 – 2020 (4 years). Funds: ~$1,000,000. 

NSERC Collaborative Research and Development Grant - Contributions of climate change and hydro-electric regulation to the variability and change of freshwater-marine coupling in the Hudson Bay System. Project team: U of Manitoba (David Barber, PI, and others), UNBC (Stephen Déry, Phil Owens and Ellen Petticrew), University of Quebec and other institutions.  Duration: 2015 – 2020 (5 years). Funds:  ~$9,000,000 (50% from NSERC and matched funding from Manitoba Hydro).

Environment Canada – Lake Winnipeg Basin Stewardship Fund (LWBSF) – Designing and managing riparian areas to filter phosphorus and sediment. Project team: UNBC (Phil Owens, PI) and U of Manitoba (David Lobb). Duration: 2013 – 2017 (4 years). Funds: $147,500.

Canada Foundation for Innovation (John R Evans Leaders Fund) – Infrastructure to support innovations in soil erosion and sedimentation research. Project team: David Lobb (PI, U of Manitoba) and Phil Owens (co-PI). Duration 2014 – onwards.  Funds: $620,000 (50% from CFI, 50% from Manitoba Research) plus other matched-funding.

Selection of present and recent graduate students and researchers

  • Dr David Gateuille (Post-doctoral research fellow)
  • Dr Leticia Gaspar (Post-doctoral research fellow)
  • Barry Booth (Research Manager, co-supervised with Déry, Parkes, Pettticrew)
  • Todd French (Research associate, co-supervised with Ellen Petticrew)
  • Jordan Lindgren (Research associate, co-supervised with Ellen Petticrew)
  • Masoud Goharrokhi (PhD student, co-supervised with David Lobb)
  • Alex Koiter (PhD student, co-supervised with Ellen Petticrew)
  • Kristen Kieta (PhD student, co-supervised with Ellen Petticrew)
  • Dominic Reiffarth (PhD student, co-supervised with Ellen Petticrew)
  • Kristina Anderson (MSc student)
  • Katrina Caley (MSc student)
  • Kristen Kieta (MSc student)
  • Mike Leggat (MSc student)
  • Gabrielle Lint (MSc student, co-supervised with Ellen Petticrew)
  • Ty Smith (MSc student)
  • Richelle Sussbauer (MSc student)
  • Jason Vanrobaeys (MSc student, co-supervised with Michael Campbell)
  • Aaron Zwiebel (MSc student, co-supervised with Ellen Petticrew)