Maya Adachi is a fourth year honours student in the Sustainable Environmental Management program. Her interests are in environmental and energy conservation, habitat restoration and management, and environmental policy. As Maya hopes to pursue further studies and a career in environmental conservation and policy, she pursued Senior Honours Work (SHW) to gain the practical skills and experience that would benefit her future endeavours.
Over the past summer, Maya worked for a conservation area and gained experience in park maintenance, which included trail maintenance and enhancement, invasive species removal, and restoration projects in order to maximize wildlife habitat and biodiversity. This work piqued her interest in the effects of ecosystem conservation and restoration, and led her to this project focusing on restoring degraded site to serve as suitable habitats for native flora and fauna species.
Maya is completing a thesis-based project in which she is considering how wildlife communities have changed in response to vegetation management in the Cell 1 wetland at Tommy Thompson Park. The goal of her research project is to study how the establishment and management of Phragmites australis, and subsequent native plant restoration by the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority, have impacted the wildlife in a wetland at Tommy Thompson Park. Her SHW entails literature review of similar research regarding the impacts of Phragmites, analyzing wildlife observation and systematic datasets provided by the TRCA, and using GIS to plot waypoints from the data. “The most exciting element of my SHW is interpreting how the vegetation changes have affected wildlife communities over a span of 16 years. I am excited to represent and communicate this data in my thesis, and hope the results serve as an example for future conservation efforts”, she explained.
Maya’s SHW is supervised by Professor Gail Fraser, the Undergraduate Program Director and Sustainable Environmental Management Coordinator at EUC. Professor Fraser’s research in waterbird ecology, wildlife management, and protected area management served as an inspiration for Maya. “I requested Dr. Fraser’s supervision because of her expertise in wildlife management and her work with the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority. She was also one of the most memorable professors I’ve had throughout my studies!”, she explained.
While her SHW has been challenging, especially in working with several large datasets, the project has provided an opportunity to strengthen her skills in using various applications, such as Excel and ArcGIS, to interpret and represent data. This work has allowed her to strengthen practical skills, including research synthesis and communication, which will be valuable in her future studies and career endeavours. “My SHW provides me with the opportunity to build on the knowledge I have gained throughout my degree and apply it to a real-life case study. This has allowed me to learn more about local conservation issues and management projects, and meet one-on-one with experts in the field.”
Her advice for students considering pursing Senior Honours Work is to choose a topic that you are passionate about, and keep your future goals in mind as an inspiration because SHW can be challenging, but also incredibly rewarding!