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University of Regina researchers have positive impact on the environment on Earth Day

News Release Release Date: April 21, 2016 9:00 a.m.

As the world celebrates Earth Day on April 22, so too do two University of Regina researchers who are bringing their research to the forefront showing their commitment to helping create a more sustainable planet.

Dr. Andrew Cameron, assistant professor in the Department of Biology, and his team of scientists are trying to understand how oil-eating bacteria work together to break down oil and other contaminants.

“The environment naturally breaks down toxins in oil,” says Cameron. “Bacteria can take an oil molecule – such as a pipeline leak – and degrade it into something non-toxic.”

Cameron’s research is looking beyond placing a few species of microbes onto a spill. Rather they are seeing if they can replicate the exact environmental factors that need to be present to ensure the oil-eaters can do their job properly. Cameron’s research has the potential to have a major impact on reducing the environmental damage spills cause.

Another project aimed at influencing our environmental actions is the work of Dr. Katherine Arbuthnott, a conservation psychologist at Campion College. She is providing insight into human behaviour that is crucial for the implementation of climate change solutions.

Arbuthnott’s research focuses on the best way to influence people to act in more environmentally-friendly ways and has found that people’s aversion to loss can be used as a way to motivate them to make more sustainable choices.

“While conservation psychologists can’t fix environmental problems directly, we can suggest how people will best be inclined to hear information, why and how they will resist pro-environmental behaviours, and suggest approaches to solutions that might see more people adopting them.”

Earlier this year the University launched the Strategic Plan on Sustainability – a plan that commits the campus community to playing a major role in sustaining human wellbeing and the natural environment for the next five-years and beyond.

 

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