J. Scott MacIvor - 2010 Winning Essay

J. Scott MacIvor

Since I was a child I've been fixated on the diversity of life and how things interact with one another. I would collect and categorize, manipulate, then create my own "constructed" ecosystems, incorporating local flora and fauna retrieved during daily hikes with my parents. These hobbies continued through to high school, albeit in other forms that included collections of plants, insects and aquarium fishes.

Immediately embarking on an undergraduate degree, my hobbies soon became questions - then with guidance and motivation - these questions became research projects. I quickly realized that I wanted to understand how biodiversity influences ecosystem functions, and in what ways sustaining ecosystem functions benefitted both human and non-human inhabitants.

I began a Master's thesis at Saint Mary's University eager to study the functions of constructed ecosystems in urban areas, including green roofs, cemeteries, public and private gardens and parks. My project is now concentrated on how green roof plant species and functional group differences can affect services such as stormwater retention, building thermoregulation and habitat provisioning for insects. I've already discovered several new species records for the province on rooftops. This year I'll start a PhD at York University where I will expand upon these urban ecological applications, with a stronger focus on pollinator diversity and conservation.

In my career as an ecologist, I am determined to evaluate and monetize the ecosystem services of urban green spaces, and promote citizen engagement in maintaining them so to increase energy savings, sustainable development, urban aesthetics and human health.