Water researchers to collaborate with Fulbright Canada Visiting Research Chair

Brooks will be giving his initial talk to the U of L audience on Thursday, Dec. 5 from 3 to 4 p.m. in WE1001, presenting Understanding Risks of Fish on Prozac, Bugs on Drugs and other Harbingers of an Urbanizing Water Cycle

Dr. Bryan Brooks, a professor of environmental science and biomedical studies at Baylor University's College of Arts & Sciences (Waco, Texas) will be getting his feet wet in more ways than one as he begins a research term with colleagues at the University of Lethbridge’s Alberta Water and Environmental Science Building (AWESB).

As the recently-appointed Fulbright Canada Visiting Research Chair, Brooks will arrive at the U of L in January 2014 to work on projects of common importance to communities on both sides of the Canada-US border.

Dr. Bryan Brooks will arrive on campus in January 2014 but has already begun collaborative work with U of L researchers.

Though they are more than 3,000 km apart, there are many parallels between the semi-arid environment of southern Alberta and the areas of Texas that Brooks studies. Urban intrusion on watersheds, climate change and other environmental stressors affect both regions.

“My goal is to develop a more complete understanding of water quality in the watersheds of semi-arid regions in Alberta that are undergoing urbanization," says Brooks. "I am looking forward to working with, and learning from, the researchers at the AWESB to build on my team’s ongoing work in semi-arid regions of Texas and other parts of the U.S., so we can advance sustainable water resource management efforts together."

Brooks is recognized as an international expert on contaminants and water quality issues in urban regions. His research team focuses efforts on water quality and water reuse, comparative toxicology and pharmacology, sustainable molecular design/green chemistry, developing approaches to define contaminant risks and the ecology and toxicology of harmful algae blooms.

A transplanted Californian, Brooks has taught at Baylor since 2002 and has served as director of the university’s environmental health science program since 2008. He is the author of more than 100 book chapters and journal articles and has been recognized by Baylor’s chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, one of the nation’s leading collegiate honor societies, for his exceptional student mentoring.

“Having Bryan on campus will be a great benefit to a number of different research teams at the U of L,” says Dr. Joe Rasmussen, a Canada Research Chair in Aquatic Ecosystems and the Director of WISE. “I know Bryan both personally and as a researcher, and we are extremely lucky to have him working with us. He’s got a great ability to connect with students, members of the community and colleagues from different disciplines. His enthusiasm for teaching and learning is contagious, and I am really looking forward to hearing his perspective on our common areas of research.”

Rasmussen and other WISE researchers, including geographers, biological scientists, physicists, water-quality and toxicology specialists, GIS imaging experts and glacier researchers among others, are analyzing water resources, water quantity and quality. They then overlap related social science investigations, such as water policy and economics.

Their studies often investigate water resources and river systems of western North America, including the Saskatchewan River Basin and adjacent watersheds. The investigations consider fundamental aspects of water science, as well as applied science and management directed towards the simultaneous goals of environmental health and socioeconomic prosperity.

WISE is one of 12 Centres and Institutes at the University of Lethbridge. Growth of research centres and institutes in strategic areas, and the continued development of existing centres and institutes, is a key feature of the Strategic Research Plan of the University of Lethbridge.

Centres and Institutes Director, David Hill, says Brooks’s appointment to the WISE group will further expand its reach in each of the research and broader external communities.

“Bryan has a number of innovative research efforts to his credit, and we are very pleased he will be on campus for a sustained period of time to work with our researchers in the WISE Centre," says Hill. "Adding Bryan to the WISE group underscores the value of the Centre and Institute concept, which is to bring different people and levels of expertise together to work on a common theme, in this case, water. They are already working on projects that have a bigger impact because they are working together. Bryan’s research and his networks will be a valuable addition to that process.”

Recipients of Fulbright awards are selected on the basis of academic or professional achievement, as well as demonstrated leadership potential in their fields. Fulbright Canada, a joint, bi-national, treaty-based organization was created to encourage mutual understanding between Canada and the United States of America through academic and cultural exchange. Fulbright Canada is supported by the Canadian government through the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada; by the United States government through the Department of State; and by a diverse group of corporate sponsors, charitable trusts and university partners. It is governed by an independent board of directors and operates out of Ottawa.