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Doctoral student honoured by Canadian Association of Geographers

Benita Tam, a PhD candidate in Geography at the University of Toronto and affiliated with UTSC, has won the 2010 Doctoral Student Paper Award from the Canadian Association of Geographers - Ontario Division (CAGONT).

Ms. Tam presented her winning paper at the annual CAGONT conference held at Ryerson University on October 16.

“It's an honour to receive the 2010 CAGONT award,” says Tam. “I am very delighted and grateful. My achievements would have not have been possible without the support and guidance from my supervisor, Bill Gough.”

Ms. Tam is affiliated with the Department of Physical and Environmental Sciences here at UTSC. Her work is supervised by the department chair, climatologist William Gough.

“I am very pleased with Benita Tam's recent recognition by CAGONT. It is well deserved. Ms. Tam is working at the challenging interface of the physical and social sciences, examining the impact of climate change on the well being of vulnerable populations. Ms. Tam's background and diverse skill-set qualify her for this critical work.”

Every year, CAGONT rewards the best student papers in the field of geography in three categories: undergraduate, Master’s and Doctoral... Tam’s winning paper – “Examining Past Temperature Variability in Moosonee and Toronto, Canada through a Day-to-Day Variability Framework” – compares and explores the temperature differences between Moosonee and Toronto using day-to-day statistical measures. The study demonstrates that temperatures in Moosonee are much more variable than they are in Toronto.

Some of the factors that influence temperature variability in different geographic locales include seasonal variation, the lake effect and the freeze-up of nearby water bodies. Tam’s results also show an increase in the yearly averages in both Moosonee and Toronto, and a decrease in the temperature minimum. She suggests global warming could be causing these increases.

Ms. Tam’s areas of specialty include climate change, health geography and risk and vulnerability assessments. She and Dr. Gough recently co-authored a paper entitled “The Effects of Climate Change on the Mental and Emotional Well-Being of Aboriginal Populations,” which appeared in the proceedings of the 17th Canadian Conference on Global Health in Ottawa.

The CAGONT award was accompanied by a $150 cash prize.


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