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Grant Clark

Associate Professor

(affiliated with the McGill School of Environment)

grant [dot] clark [at] mcgill [dot] ca (Email ) | T: 514-398-7784 |  Macdonald-Stewart Building, MS1-099  |  Website |     Student projects

Degrees

B.Sc. (Agr.Eng.) (Alta.)
Ph.D. (McG.)

Short Bio

Grant grew up on a mixed farm in Central Alberta. He received an industry-cooperative B.Sc. in Agricultural Engineering from the University of Alberta, Edmonton (1993) and a Ph.D. in Biosystems Engineering from McGill University, Montreal (2000). Grant then worked as a Research Associate and Assistant Professor at the University of Alberta until coming to McGill in 2007. His research program in ecological engineering involves the use of computational tools and physical systems to study how ecosystems can be designed, created and managed so as to provide services and solutions.

Research Interests

Ecological engineering is the creation of a community of plants, animals, microbes, and possibly technological components, so that they provide some service. An example of such an engineered ecosystem is an in-vessel composter, in which a community of microbes breaks down organic waste into a soil-like product and the vessel controls the microbes’ environment to keep them happy.

A different view of ecological engineering is the study of existing ecosystems to learn how material and energy flow through them. This knowledge of those principles is then used to design better technological systems. An example of such ecologically-inspired design is the study of convective airflow through termite mounds, so that the observed principles can be used to design a naturally-ventilated building.

Ecosystems are complex adaptive systems, meaning that they are made up of very many components that interact with one another and their surroundings in complicated and surprising ways. The dynamics of complex systems give rise to fascinating spatial and temporal patterns across different scales. Natural systems that are driven by energy gradients tend toward increasing complexity. All living things can be thought of as complex systems, such as plants, which are made up of trillions of cells and use gradients in light energy and chemical concentration to grow. Ecosystems are also part of the family of complex adaptive systems, although they include many individual organisms and are thus organized at a larger scale.

Our research group uses physical experiments and computer models to study existing ecosystems so that we can better engineer our own systems.

Current Research

  • Optimiser la gestion des eaux de surface et l'irrigation des arbres urbains – Optimisation of the water surface management and the irrigation system of the city trees
  • Ecological engineering for optimal management of agricultural and municipal organic residues

Courses

BREE 252 Computing for Engineers 3 Credits
    Offered in the:
  • Fall
  • Winter
  • Summer


BREE 322 Organic Waste Management 3 Credits
    Offered in the:
  • Fall
  • Winter
  • Summer


BREE 490 Engineering Design 2 3 Credits
    Offered in the:
  • Fall
  • Winter
  • Summer


BREE 495 Engineering Design 3 3 Credits
    Offered in the:
  • Fall
  • Winter
  • Summer


BREE 501 Simulation and Modelling 3 Credits
    Offered in the:
  • Fall
  • Winter
  • Summer


BREE 518 Ecological Engineering 3 Credits
    Offered in the:
  • Fall
  • Winter
  • Summer

 

Publications

View a list of current publications

 

Links of Interest