Undergraduate Research, Public and Private Partnerships

March 2016
Pierre Tulk_624
| Pierre Tulk, Global Food Security

Every year at this time, students across the country compete to undertake summer research internships with some of the country’s top researchers. Research internships provide terrific opportunities for students to gain hands-on experience; in 2015, seventeen Macdonald students participated in the program.  While the majority of the student research was funded by NSERC and CIHR awards, Pierre Tulk’s work was funded through the Schull-Yang International Research Award, made possible by the generosity of McGill alumni Joseph Schull, BA’82, MA’85, and Anna Yang, BCL, LLB’88.

Pierre, an undergraduate student majoring in Global Food Security/Ecological Agriculture, is the first recipient of the Schull-Yang Award. During the summer of 2015, Pierre undertook research in Panama in Phase 3 of the Indigenous Stewardship of the Environment and Alternative Development (INSTEAD) project. The project took place on the Atlantic slope and littoral of the province of Veraguas, Panama. It is the eastern-most territory occupied by the Ngöbe and Buglé indigenous communities. While territorial self-determination is central to the political program of these people, the area is also confronted with non-native infrastructure development, real estate and tourist speculation, and mining concessions. Predominantly covered by mature moist tropical forests, the zone is one of the key pieces of the Panamanian portion of the Mesoamerican Biological Corridor and has a very high conservation value.

The first step in self-determination for the Ngöbe and Buglé people requires knowledge of the territory, hence the creation of an atlas, the initiative for which emerged from the communities themselves, with the aim of improving political power while promoting and conserving traditional culture. The project looked into training the local peoples in research methodologies relevant to mapping and analyzing land use, food security, and potential areas of conservation zoning through the process of a participatory regional mapping exercise (atlas). Pierre’s project led to the dissemination of the final edition of a geographical atlas of the indigenous territory that will be used to assess local patterns of land use, which will aid the indigenous community in the development of conservation policies. The project was co-supervised by Dr. Caroline Begg (Plant Science) and Professor Daviken Studnicki-Gizbert (History & Classical Studies).

Comments are closed.