IIES Graduate Student Forum

March 18 — 19, 2021


We are pleased to announce this year's IIES Graduate Student Forum, taking place online Thursday, March 18 and Friday, March 19, 2021. This year, we have an exciting program featuring interactive group projects and a live workshop on how to build practical and effective communication skills.

Participants will collaborate on a group project, working as a team on a current environmental challenge and developing a response to be presented live during the Forum. Students will either choose their groups or be placed in a group. Over the coming weeks, students will meet independently to work on the challenge and present their findings to all participants on the second day of the Forum.


Each team should consist of:

Students may form their own groups, may submit a partial group list or simply submit their name with the topic on which they would like to work. The organizing committee will then assist in the formation of groups by connecting people with similar interests. Where there is insufficient critical mass to form a group on a particular question, we may suggest participation in another group. More than one group can work on the same challenge question.

Teams should prepare a presentation on their "results" that can be given during the on-line forum in March. Presentations should be no more than 10 minutes in length with 5 minutes following for questions. The presentation can be given by one person with all participating in questions/answers or it can be a multi-person presentation. If visual material is part of the presentation (e.g. powerpoint, keynote) it should be limited to a maximum of 5 slides. One person should be responsible for sharing the presentation during the Zoom meeting.

IIES personnel will assist in setting up zoom meetings for groups to work together if required, but groups may organize and coordinate prior to the Forum in whatever way works best for them (e.g. WeChat may work better for people from some countries).


First Place

Group One | Global Cycling of Mercury

Second Place

Group Six | Infectious Pathogens in Water Treatment

Third Place

Group Two | Bioavailability of Trace Metals

The final results are based on the rankings of our seven judges. Thank you to all groups who participated.


Environmental Chemistry

Global cycling of mercury

Mercury emissions and its global distribution remain among the most pressing issues related to trace metals. Can we predict the impact of global climate change on mercury cycling and how different regions might be impacted?

Bioavailability of Trace Metals

For decades researchers have tried to develop methods for determining bioavailability of trace metals in environmental media. Can we with any certainty establish a link between measurements of bioavailability and human impacts? What areas need further development for better predictions of human impacts?

Emerging Organic Pollutants

Often refer to a group of yet unregulated chemicals for which there is increasing evidence of their negative impacts on ecosystems and for which we lack adequate techniques for removal from water and wastewater. What are the major challenges for evaluation of their impacts, given current analytical challenges? What research areas should be prioritized for environmental agencies to set up guidelines and legislation to mitigate their environmental risks?


Microplastics can be found in most environmental media (e.g. soils, sediments, water) in many parts of the world. At the same time, marine pollution by macroplastics is widespread and creates a real impact on marine ecosystems (e.g. see https://www.cnn.com/travel/article/bali-beach-trash-intl-hnk/index.html). Do we need to consider these problems as one in the same, can the methods of study from one field be useful in the other and can common mitigation strategies be used for both?

Environmental Engineering

Infectious Pathogens in Water Treatment

The pandemic has made us aware of the potential for transmission of new viruses and Sars-CoV-2 has been found in sewage waste systems. Are there new approaches to human waste treatment that can effectively eliminate viruses in waste waters and can these be put in place in less developed countries?


There are many proposals for bioremediation approaches to both organic and inorganic contaminants. However, many of these have been demonstrated in lab or pilot studies but not in real world situations. For a contaminant or group of contaminants of your choice, what are the leading candidate technologies for bioremediation and how feasible are they for large-scale application in various part of the globe? What new approaches might be more amenable to remote locations where infrastructure is lacking?

Applications of Nanotechnology to Water Treatment

Developments in nanotechnology may provide the opportunity for better, less expensive, more effective removal of contaminants from drinking and waste waters. What new approaches are currently available or should be explored and are they scalable to large purification systems such as would be found in large cities?

Environmental Sciences and Policy

Circular Economy

Can a truly circular economy be developed for water, agri-food, energy (choose one)? If so, what would it look like? What new research is required to assess the feasibility of such as system or to bring it into being?

Circular Economy and Urban Mining

Modern electronic technologies have irrefutably advanced modern society, but they also pose emerging challenges. The generation of electronic waste has grown worldwide to 44.7 metric tonnes annually but only 20% of the waste is being properly recycled. At the same time, a tremendous quantity of e-waste is shipped to less developed countries, where substandard recycling of e-waste is associated with severe environmental and human health impacts. How can the principles of circular economy be applied to attenuate the impacts of High-Tech industrial sectors and to close the loop of the lifecycle of their products?

Sustainable and Regenerative Agriculture

Agricultural land in many parts of the world has been impacted by traditional intensive practises and in some places by the overuse of fertilisers and pesticides. Can these soils be refreshed? Are there novel approaches to improve soil fertility and at the same time reduce contaminant uptake by crops? How might we involve local communities in developing and applying more sustainable/regenerative farming methods?

Topic of your choice

Groups may form an environmental topic of their choice. However, groups are strongly encouraged to develop a question that broadly encompasses several disciplinary backgrounds, covers at least three of the IIES “pillars” (i.e. environmental processes, environmental health, green technology and environmental policy) and one that includes aspects of basic and applied science as well as policy dimensions.



Thursday, March 18, 2021

08:00 - 08:05

Welcome Remarks

Professor Douglas Evans, Director IIES (Trent University)
08:05 - 09:45

Communicating with Confidence

VOX Training Academy, Pete Bailie

Friday, March 19, 2021

08:00 - 08:05

Welcome Remarks

08:05 - 08:35

Group Presentations

  • 10 minutes per group
  • 5 minute Q&A
08:35 - 09:05

Group Presentations

  • 10 minutes per group
  • 5 minute Q&A
09:05 - 09:15


09:15 - 09:45

Group Presentations

  • 10 minutes per group
  • 5 minute Q&A
09:45 - 10:15

Group Presentations

  • 10 minutes per group
  • 5 minute Q&A

Communicate with Confidence

Even if you’ve done it before, giving a presentation can be daunting. As well as the challenge of managing nerves, there’s the need to make an immediate connection with the audience, hold their interest and convey your message with clarity and impact. Faced with varied audiences, often from different sectors or functions, you can come away feeling you haven’t done justice to your content.

How do we adapt our style and approach to different audiences and different contexts? Speak so that others want to listen? Manage pressure, complexity and uncertainty?

This stimulating and involving course, run by VOX Coaching, will help you gain confidence and speak compellingly in front of any audience, whether in person or on screen. It will equip you with practical techniques for engaging and informing. You’ll explore your presentation style in a supportive atmosphere and discover ways of enhancing it. The course will stand you in good stead now and in your future career.

This workshop will equip you with strategies to manage your nerves by offering ways to hold an audience’s attention, convey information and ideas clearly and respond to questions with authority and composure. You’ll have the opportunity to analyse your presentation style and explore ways of developing it.

After the course, you’ll be able to get access to a course summary, follow-up material and the VOX Academy – an online repository of written guidance, lively videos and other resources to help you extend your learning and take your communication skills to the next level.

About VOX

VOX Coaching is a communication-skills training company with a loyal clientele in the higher education, business, government and health sectors. Its coaches have worked with some 35 Universities, including Bristol, Edinburgh, Imperial, Manchester and UCL, as well as with leading international business schools. They have coached vice-chancellors, CEOs, speakers at the World Economic Forum, judges and MPs up to Cabinet Level. VOX coaches are experts in helping people to communicate in their own style - but with more skill and a dash of inspiration.

For more information on VOX Coaching visit their website, www.voxcoaching.com.