UFV Approves the Creation of a New School of Science

The UFV Senate recently approved the formation of a School of Agriculture, Geography, and the Environment (SAGE) in the science department. The plan is to establish the new school by Sept. 1, 2019.

The agriculture department has not yet fully joined the new school of science, though they are associate members. According to Lucy Lee, dean of science, this is because the shift from a department to a school can be a slow process. Since the physical location of the agriculture department is in Chilliwack, more time will be needed to organize the logistics of the transition to a school of science.

To create the new school, the smaller units within the science department, agriculture, and possibly food sciences, will merge into a larger group which includes geography and environmental studies, so that they can work together. According to Lee, smaller units don’t have the same resource and staffing advantages as a larger group under the supervision of a director who has more time to oversee the entire unit.

read more here for the official article.


Geography 452 – Advanced Field Methods and Techniques

Winter 2019 Schedule

Interested in Climate Change Adaptation in BC’s Agricultural Sector?

GEOG 452 will cover climate change adaptations of agricultural practices.

As one of the course requirements, students will attend the 2019 BC Agriculture and Climate Change Research Education Series occurring on

February 28th , March 7th, March 14th, and March 21st
from 6:30-8:30 pm


Education Series Information

Participants will learn about climate change adaptation in British Columbia via presentations by professionals currently working in the field and have the opportunity to participate in facilitated discussion


Educational Themes:

Climate change projections in agricultural regions across BC and implications for the sector

Climate change adaptation planning

The role of applied research for climate change adaptation

Knowledge transfer and extension strategies for applied climate change research

GEOG 312 – Field Trip Adventures

The GEOG 312 class travelled to the BC Interior October 5th – 6th, exploring human-environment relations of our colonial past and our transformation to a globally-integrated capitalist economy. A few highlights include: (1) exploring Alexandra Provincial Park, discussing power dynamics between colonial officials and First Nations communities, and their varied understandings of the environment and development; (2) an informative talk by Robin Strong, Xaxli’p Community Forest Manager, and a visit to an eco-cultural restoration site; and (3) an awe-inspiring visit to the Highland Valley Copper mine and tailings pond. The class particularly enjoyed our visit with Robin and are thankful for her time and knowledge shared. After the visit Robin wrote indicating: “I wanted to say how impressed I was by your class, and thank you for coming to visit us. Your course is like, “lets bring up all the controversial subjects and think about them.” I was inspired by your student’s convictions, enthusiasm, and ideas. Thank-you for taking on the task of tackling such a broad topic, which really is about critical thinking, and deep thinking. And thank you to the students for sharing their ideas with me.”


Central BC coast may have been a viable migration route to Americas, new research shows

UFV Geography and Environment BSc students Jordan Bryce (foreground) and Travis Gingerich survey the topography of the landscape on Calvert Island (BC central coast), in summer 2015, in preparation for sampling of bedrock outcrops for surface exposure dating.


Was there a prehistoric superhighway used by ancient peoples to migrate south from North-east Russia to the Americas? And if so, where was it?

Research involving UFV earth scientist Olav Lian and his students in a region centred on B.C.’s Calvert Island suggests that the central coast of BC was ice-free by about 17,700 years ago, earlier than previously thought. The estimated timing of retreat of the western margin of the ice sheet means ancient people may have used a coastal route to migrate south into the Americas. Some higher locations were exposed even earlier. This is important, because it suggests an early route along the western coastline of Canada might have been viable well before an alternative, inland route.

Which route was used — and when — remains a highly contentious topic amongst archaeologists and geologists.

Lian and his students worked with British (University of Manchester), Canadian (University of Northern BC), and American (Tulane and Purdue universities) colleagues to conduct surface exposure dating, a technique that can be used to determine how long quartz-bearing rock has been exposed to high-energy particles from space.

Dr. Olav Lian

The findings should help archaeologists target regions for investigations tracing the migration pathways of early people into the Americas.

“We show that the western margin of the ice sheet retreated earlier than previously thought,” notes the summary prepared by the researchers. “Other margins of the ice sheet advanced later, creating a complex picture through time. The early retreat of the western ice margin exposed numerous islands that could have been used by early people migrating southward.”

Lian had been working on Calvert Island through his association with the Hakai Institute, which is based there, for several years previous to this study. He introduced his colleagues to the site, and suggested locations on the mountaintops from which to take samples.

The samples were then processed in a surface exposure dating laboratory at Tulane University in Louisiana.

“The area around Calvert Island on the British Columbia west coast, where we conducted this research, is important because archeologists recently found ancient footprints there that formed about 13,000 years ago, younger than the time we are estimating that the ice receded,” says Lian.

Bedrock samples being cut from an outcrop for exposure dating using an angle grinder.

“This area of the coast seems to have been very important to the early peoples of these regions. It would have had year-round access to food sources. The change to sea level was minimal in this region, compared to other areas during the ice age. It might have been a good place to live and wait out the crazy adjustment of the landscape that followed the ice age.”

Reflecting UFV’s commitment to involving undergraduate students in research, several were involved in this project, including Travis Gingerich, who worked with Lian on Calvert Island during the summers of 2015 and 2017. Gingerich graduated from UFV this year, and is now pursuing his master’s degree and continuing his research at Simon Fraser University.

“It was an awesome and amazing experience to get so much exposure to field and lab research at the undergraduate level,” notes Gingerich. “It encouraged me to continue in this area of study.”

The team’s findings were recently published in a paper entitled Retreat of the western Cordilleran Ice Sheet margin during the last deglaciation in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, a prominent journal of the American Geophysical Union that rapidly publishes research on major advances in the earth and atmospheric sciences. Its target readership include the scientific community and the general public.

The research received funding from the Tula FoundationNatural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada Discovery grants program, Canada Research Chairs Program, and the Canada Foundation for Innovation.



To view original article please click here.

AGUS Fall Fundraiser

The Association of Geography Undergrad Students will be holding their 3rd Annual Fall Fundraiser! October 4th at Townhall Public House (33720 South Fraser Way, Abbotsford)

Ticket are $20. Price includes a beef, chicken or veggie burger with fries and your choice of beverage.

Lots of different opportunities to win great prizes, including a 4-credit course at UFV!

Contact an AGUS executive by emailing GUS@ufv.ca or Leah Sperling, Department Assistant for Geography and the Environment at leah.sperling@ufv.ca

We hope to see you there!