Distinguished researchers from Mexico visit York’s FES

Pictured above, left to right: Brent Rutherford, Margarita Soto, Lorrain Giddings and Abdel Maarouf

Distinguished senior researchers at the Mexican Institute of Ecology (Instituto de Ecologia, in Xalapa), the premier institution of its kind in Mexico, recently visited York. Margarita Soto who heads the regional bioclimatology department, and Lorrain Giddings, director of computing, were at the University this past week, consulting with research colleagues and meeting with other possible York collaborators, such as Irene Rubinstein of CRESTech.

Soto and Giddings have been collaborating with FES Prof. Brent Rutherford and FES Prof. Abdel Maarouf in an ongoing research project entitled “Food Security, Biodiversity and Health Impacts of Short- and Long-Term Changes in Precipitation”, which is initially funded by IDRC (International Development Research Centre).

Rutherford explains that the team’s research is focused on patterns of drought and flood conditions over the entire North American continent. They base their information on precipitation records collected from 7,000 weather stations from the mid-1800s to the present. Their results show that drought/wet zones do not correspond to traditional climate zones.

“Our findings open new fields of investigation in the field and have direct impact on farming, health and biodiversity,” says Rutherford. “We intend to study the relationship of drought/wet periods to changes in agricultural production and food security, changes in human health – such as malaria and dengue fever – and changes in biodiversity.”

Adds FES Prof. Howard Daugherty, “This is a research project that has significance for food security, biodiversity and human health, but also global climate change as well. It is an example of an integrated, international research project, building on institutional linkages between Canada and Mexico that will have direct applications to environmental problems and human society.”

During their visit, Soto and Giddings also met with various officials at the University, including Associate VP International Adrian Shubert, FES Dean David Morley and FES Associate Dean Robert MacDonald.


Above left to right: Soto and Giddings