2013-2015 Trottier Fellows

Lea Berrang Ford

Lea Berrang Ford

Elena Bennett

Elena Bennett

Catherine Potvin

Catherine Potvin

The first awards to create Trottier Fellows in Science and Public Policy were made in 2013 to Professors Lea Berrang Ford (Geography), Elena Bennett (Natural Resource Sciences and School of Environment) and Catherine Potvin (Biology).


About the 2013-2015 Trottier Fellows


Lea Berrang Ford


Dr. Lea Berrang Ford is an Associate Professor in the Department of Geography at McGill. Combining a background in Geography, Environmental Change, and Epidemiology, her research focuses on the environmental determinants of global health and infectious disease, with particular interest in climate change and health science and policy. Her projects employ mixed methods (qualitative and quantitative), and include spatial analysis, epidemiologic analysis, ecohealth approaches, and systematic review. She currently co-leads  an international, interdisciplinary research team investigating vulnerability and adaptation to the health effects of climate change among remote Indigenous populations in Peru, Uganda, and the Canadian Arctic, funded by the IDRC/Tri-Council IRIACC program. The bulk of her global environmental health fieldwork has been based in Uganda. Prior to her time at McGill, Dr. Berrang Ford worked with the environmental issues division and the zoonotic and vectorborne disease division at the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC), with collaborative research with PHAC ongoing. She is also the co-founder of the recently launched Tracking Research in Adaptation to Climate Change (TRAC3)(www.trac3), focusing on development of novel metrics and comprehensive datasets for global climate adaptation policy.

Trottier Fellowship

Through the Trottier Public Science Policy Fellowship, Dr. Berrang Ford’s lab has characterized evidence-based policy priorities, developed methods and metrics for policy evaluation, and identified monitoring tools for climate change adaptation within Canada and globally. This work is aimed at generating ‘useable science’: science designed to contribute to decision-making and inform policy. This has included working closely with policy partners at the Public Health Agency of Canada and Health Canada, but also through training of students and young researchers in the integration of science and policy for environmental health. With the support of TISPP, Dr Berrang Ford has launched a new international consortium (TRAC3) that is working to develop – and make publicly available – systematic and comprehensive metrics for tracking and evaluating climate change adaptation globally. TRAC3 was launched at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conference of the Parties (COP) in Lima, Peru in December 2014. Working with federal partners, Dr Berrang Ford’s team has developed a summary of strategic research priorities related to climate change and health for the Public Health Agency of Canada, and reviewed monitoring and evaluation tools and options for climate change metrics in adaptation policy with Health Canada. The TISPP fellowship has also supported research internships in science-policy in Dr Berrang Ford’s lab, as well as the development of a proposed program for a joint federal Public Servant in Residence, a collaboration with the McGill Institute of Health and Social Policy to bring a health policy expert to McGill to promote collaborative training and Communities of Practice in the integration of science and policy for public health decision-making in Canada.

For more information on TRAC3, please visit the TRAC3 website or go to the TRAC3 Emerging Results page for a summary of TRAC3 activities and results

Trottier-funded research has led to the following publications (young trainees are underlined, key policy or Community of Practice collaborators are starred):

TRAC3 (2014) Emerging research results, outreach brochure for UNFCCC COP, Lima, Peru, December 2014. Link: http://issuu.com/fordlab/docs/trac3/1?e=0/10828188

Austin, S.E., J.D. Ford, L. Berrang-Ford, M. Araos, S. Parker*, and M.D. Fleury* (In press) Public health adaptation to climate change in Canadian jurisdictions. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.

Berrang-Ford, L., T. Pearce*, and J.D. Ford (In press) Systematic review approaches for climate change adaptation research. Regional Environmental Change.

Ford, J., and L. Berrang-Ford (In Press) The 4Cs of adaptation tracking: consistency, comparability, comprehensiveness, coherency. Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change.

M. Araos, L. Berrang-Ford, J.D. Ford, S.E. Austin, and R. Biesbroek* (In review) Adaptation in large cities: a systematic global assessment. Climatic Change Letters.

Lesnikowski, A., J.D. Ford, L. Berrang-Ford, M. Barrera, and S.J. Heymann* (2015) How are we adapting to climate change? A global assessment. Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change 20:277-93.

Berrang-Ford, L., J.D. Ford, A. Lesnikowski, C. Poutiainen, M. Barrera, and S.J. Heymann* (2014) What drives national adaptation? A global assessment. Climatic Change Letters 124:441-450.


Student interns at the TRAC3 information booth at COP20 in Lima, Peru (2014)

Student interns at the TRAC3 information booth at COP20 in Lima, Peru (2014). McGill’s TRAC3 project was the only booth from a Canadian University at COP20. Photo credit: Jahir Anicama Diaz


Malcolm Araos Egan (science-policy research intern) presenting TRAC3 adaptation tracking tools at the Adaptation Futures conference in Fortalez, Brazil (2014)

Malcolm Araos Egan (science-policy research intern) presenting TRAC3 adaptation tracking tools at the Adaptation Futures conference in Fortalez, Brazil (2014). The conference brought together researchers, policy makers, and practitioners from developed and developing countries to share insights and strategies for decision making into the challenges and opportunities of climate change adaptation. Photo credit: Donna Yoo


Cover page of TRAC3’s launch of emerging research results (2014).

Cover page of TRAC3’s launch of emerging research results (2014). Visit the TRAC3 Emerging Results website.


Lea Berrang Ford on the Department of Geography website

Lea Berrang Ford, Geographic and Environmental Epidemiology Lab

Elena Bennett


Dr. Elena Bennett is an Associate Professor in the Department of Natural Resource Sciences and the McGill School of Environment. She received her BA in Biology and Environmental Studies from Oberlin College in Ohio in 1994, earned her MSc in Land Resources in 1999 (U. Wisconsin) and her PhD in Limnology and Marine Sciences in 2002 (U. Wisconsin). She is an expert in ecosystem services (benefits that people obtain from nature) and is co-chair of the international project ecoSERVICES (now under the auspices of Future Earth), which aims to set the research agenda for ecosystem services for the coming decade.  She has received over $2 million in grants to support her research, and published over 70 peer-reviewed articles and book chapters. Dr. Bennett was a Leopold Leadership Fellow, and received training from this group in communication and engagement with policy-makers (2012), and was recently named a Trottier Public Policy Professor (2013-2014). She put this training into practice during a recent opportunity to speak at a Congressional Briefing in the US Congress (on agriculture and ecosystem services). At McGill, she has won numerous awards, including awards for undergraduate teaching and graduate supervision.  In 2012, she was selected as one of two young scientist representatives of the Royal Society of Canada to attend the Summer Davos meeting of the World Economic Forum held in Tianjin, China.

Trottier Fellowship

As a Trottier Public Policy Fellow, she is working on a project with local communities in the Montérégie on the ecosystem service implications of land use planning, and how an ecosystem service framework can help improve decision-making, especially about conservation and restoration issues such as the design of the Montreal Greenbelt. With a large team of collaborators, she is developing and empirically testing a modeling framework that quantitatively links land use pattern, biodiversity, and ecosystem services in the agricultural landscape around Montreal. The ecological science on which the project is based involves collecting field data on land use pattern across the Montérégie as well as on the services provided, and using this data to build quantitative models of the linkages between landscape connectivity, biodiversity. The policy and outreach component involves using this framework with local towns to build practical decision-support tools that will help communities grapple with the challenges of environmental management in the face of local, regional, and global change.

Dr. Bennett’s globally-focused policy and decision-oriented research has led to publication of a manuscript on planetary boundaries that can be found here.

Steffen, W., K. Richardson, J. Rockström, S. Cornell, I. Fetzer, E. M. Bennett, R. Biggs, S Carpenter, W. de Vries,  C. A. de Wit, D. Gerten, J. Heinke, C. Folke, G. Mace, L. M. Persson, V. Ramanathan, B. Reyers, S. Sörlin. 2015. Planetary Boundaries: Guiding human development on a changing planet. Science.


Elena Bennett Research Image 1

Sylvestre leading our stakeholders in a scenario development exercise.


Elena Bennett Research Image 2
     Photo credit: Alex Tran Photography

Carly Ziter ‘measuring’ trees in the Monteregie. Photo credit: Alex Tran Photography


Elena Bennett Research Image 3

A landscape of the Monteregie from Mont Saint Hilarie Nature Centre.


Elena Bennett on the Department of Natural Resource Sciences and McGill School of Environment website

Catherine Potvin


Dr. Catherine Potvin obtained her Ph.D. from Duke University, North Carolina, and since then has always worked on issues related to global climate change, being a Professor in the Department of Biology. She has developed expertises on tropical forest ecology and carbon storage and has been working with the Embera people of Panama since 1994, in developing participatory approaches to integrate the human dimension in biological analysis. Beginning in 2002, Dr. Potvin worked closely with Panama’s National Authority for the Environment (ANAM) on forest carbon stocks and served as Panama’s negotiator of REDD in the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (2005-2009). Her current research in Panama spans a broad range of issues from remote sensing to capacity building and conflict resolution, the unifying theme being forest conservation and climate change. During her career, she has edited two books and published >100 scientific journal articles or book chapters.

J’ai obtenu un doctorat en botanique de l’Université Duke en Caroline du nord. Je travaillais alors, et je travaille toujours sur la problématique des changements climatiques.Je suis professeure titulaire au département de biologie de l’université McGill. Actuellement je travaille surtout en écologie tropicale et mes recherches appuient les efforts internationaux visant à réduire le déboisement dans les tropiques.  C’est très important de le faire tant dans le cadre de la lutte aux changements climatiques que pour protéger la biodiversité. Dans ce cadre je travaille depuis maintenant 10 ans avec les peuples autochtones du Panama qui vivent dans la forêt. J’ai eu l’opportunité de représenter le Panama dans les négociations internationales sur le climat pendant six ans.  De ce fait j’ai acquis une solide expérience internationale en politique. J’ai publié plus de 100 articles scientifiques et reçu d’important prix en reconnaissance de mes travaux.

Trottier Fellowship

Sustainable Canada Dialogues (SCD) seeks to motivate change and help Canada in its necessary transition toward a low carbon economy. Through mobilization of scientific expertise, the initiative identified positive solutions that overcome obstacles to sustainability. These issues are covered in Acting on Climate Change: Solutions from Canadian Scholars [PDF, 11.7MB]

The initiative is oriented around three central activities:

Beginning the Dialogue: Climate Change and Sustainability Actions for Canada, diagram

Canada Research Chair on Climate Change Mitigation and Tropical Forests: Science for Empowerment, Dr. Catherine Potvin


A second series of awards will be made in 2015.

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