Mechanical Engineering PhD student Rivkah Gardner-Frolick has won one of Canada’s top scholarships, the Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship. This scholarship awards selected students across the country $50,000 per year for three years of doctoral studies, and is based off the students’ academic excellence, research potential and leadership. The award was created to “attract and retain world-class doctoral students and establish Canada as a global centre of excellence in research and higher learning.”
As a new Vanier Scholar, Gardner-Frolick will be researching industrial air pollution, and how air quality modelling can inform policy making and the pursuit of environmental justice – identifying where and how air pollution disproportionally affects members of disadvantaged groups by looking at environmental data alongside community demographic information like race, income, and education. Her project will develop tools that can be leveraged to expand knowledge of how Canadian communities are affected by air pollution, involving an analysis of industrial facilities across the country, a regional study, and a local citizen scientist project that aims to include affected communities in environmental justice research.
As part of the Lab for Environmental Assessment and Policy, she is jointly supervised by Assistant Professor Amanda Giang from the Department of Mechanical Engineering and the Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability (IRES) and Dr. David Boyd, Associate Professor with IRES. Dr. Giang’s research work is at the nexus of air quality science and policy development, applying engineering tools like simulation, statistical and qualitative methods to further our understanding of the impact of technology on health and the environment. Dr. Boyd is an international expert on environmental law and policy, and is a United Nations Special Rapporteur human rights and the environment.
As a leader seeking to empower others, Gardner-Frolick has mentored undergraduate and graduate students at her former alma maters and UBC, volunteered as a Team Lead for NGO Engineers Without Borders for a water distribution project in Nicaragua, and currently serves on the executive committee of the Mechanical Engineering Graduate Association (MEGA). She is also the graduate student representative on the Department of Mechanical Engineering Sustainability Committee.
Prior to winning the Vanier Scholarship, Gardner-Frolick has been awarded UBC’s Four Year Fellowship, the Martha Salcudean Memorial Award in Mechanical Engineering, and the BC Air Quality Robert Caton Scholarship.