Aquatic scientist Dr. Marguerite (Maggie) Xenopoulos has been appointed a Tier I Canada research chair (CRC) in Global Change of Freshwater Ecosystems at Trent University.
“The Canada research chair appointment recognizes and solidifies Professor Xenopoulos’ reputation as a global leader in the field of freshwater ecosystems,” said Dr. Cathy Bruce, vice president of research and innovation at Trent University. “Her research program is vital to better understanding how aquatic ecosystems are responding to global change. As the first female Tier 1 CRC at Trent, Professor Xenopoulos serves as a role model for young researchers, particularly women and other under-represented researchers, who dream of following in her footsteps.”
As a CRC, Xenopoulos, a biology professor at Trent, will continue her research on the effects of human activities on the biogeochemistry and function of aquatic ecosystems. Her research will explore the pressures of climate change, floods, land use effects, nutrient pollution and other stressors on lakes and rivers with a particular focus on carbon.
This research builds on a 2009 discovery by Xenopoulos and Dr. Henry Wilson, a Ph.D. candidate working with Prof. Xenopoulos at the time, where they found that the chemistry of carbon in the water is modified by land use change and climate change, which has implications for the structure and function of aquatic ecosystems. This discovery has changed the way aquatic ecologists and water managers view the important role of dissolved organic carbon in freshwater ecosystems.
“The CRC is a great opportunity for me to expand my program and to continue mentoring the next generation to follow in my footsteps,” said Xenopoulos. “We still have so much work to do to protect waterbodies and their watersheds.”
Through new collaborative research projects, many involving students at both the undergraduate and graduate level, Xenopoulos aims to explore how carbon composition affects the health of aquatic ecosystems, including the amount of CO2 that is outgassed from the water.
Mentoring the next generation of researchers will be central to Xenopoulos’ CRC. In her 17 years as a biology professor at Trent, she has trained dozens of undergraduate and graduate students and numerous post-doctoral fellows, most of whom are now active professionals in aquatic sciences—from consultants to government scientists and academics.
“My students and post-doctoral fellows are the most important component of my academic research program. They bring energy, enthusiasm, and ideas,” said Xenopoulos. “During my CRC I will continue to mentor the next generation to be critical thinkers and science communicators while providing them with opportunities to engage in multi-disciplinary and collaborative research.”
She also plans to continue working with other academics, external practitioners, such as local and provincial government scientists, as well as the broader community to share information and together create a deeper understanding of our water, our lakes and healthy watersheds.
“To have another Tier I Canada research chair right here in Peterborough at Trent University is a sign of confidence by the Government of Canada, of course with investments, but also by world leading scientists who say at Trent University, there are good things happening there,” said Maryam Monsef, member of parliament for Peterborough-Kawartha. “There are smart people like Dr. Xenopoulos, doing important work. Let’s invest because it’ll pay off for all of us.
“I am pleased to celebrate Dr. Xenopoulos and this important milestone for Trent,” added Monsef, who is also the minister of women and gender equality and rural economic development. “She and so many others will continue to inspire the next generation of researchers and leaders in academia, and that’s a good thing for Canada, and good for the global community. We are counting on these outstanding Canadians to come up with ideas to solutions the global community is looking for.”
Xenopoulos joined Trent in 2004. Since then, she has since contributed to the University’s reputation as one of the world’s leading facilities for research on environment and water. Her research has resulted in numerous provincial and federal grants over the years, totaling more than $30 million and resulted in more than 95 peer-reviewed publications.
Among her many achievements, a career highlight was serving as the lead author in the Scenarios Working Group of the United Nations Millennium Ecosystem Assessment. Xenopoulos continues to play a leading role a number of large-scale national and international programs, such as NSERC FloodNet, the Real-time Aquatic Ecosystem Observation Network. She also she serves on the Science Advisory Board of the International Joint Commission. As further testament to her scholarly achievements and international renown, Xenopoulos served as the deputy editor-in-chief of the journal, Limnology and Oceanography. In January, she was appointed as editor-in-chief of the Journal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences.