Carleton University’s Chris Burn in the Department of Geography and Environmental Studies has won the Governor General of Canada’s Canadian Polar Medal, which celebrates Canada’s northern heritage and recognizes his extraordinary services in the polar regions and Canada’s North.
“This is a well-deserved recognition of Burn’s remarkable accomplishments and his vital contributions to research in Canada’s North,” said Rafik Goubran, vice-president (Research and International). “His impressive work in this area greatly supports Carleton’s existing leadership in northern research.”
Burn received the honour for his extraordinary contributions to scientific knowledge, deep-rooted contributions to collaborative projects with northern agencies, engaged advisory contributions and dedicated training of the next generation of northern researchers.
“This great personal honour could not have been achieved without important northern partnerships and friendships,” said Burn. “The most significant of these includes the help of Douglas Esagok of Inuvik, and the continuing interest of the community of Mayo, central Yukon, in our work. I have been fortunate to have the support of my department, and to have worked with talented graduate students, 17 of whom now live and work north of 60.”
Burn has dedicated his professional life to increasing the understanding of permafrost environments through pioneering research carried out mostly in western Arctic Canada, particularly in northern Yukon and in the outer Mackenzie Delta area. In addition to his important scientific contributions, Burn has been instrumental in solving and managing developmental, environmental and social issues through his involvement with northern communities and agencies and through his advisory work for regulatory boards.
The hallmark of Burn’s research has been an intimate interconnection with the North, the land and the people. A prolific author of 145 peer-reviewed articles on permafrost, landforms and climate change in Yukon and western Arctic Canada, his work concerns the effects of changes in climate and surface conditions on permafrost temperatures and ground stability in ice-rich terrain. His work is both academic, based at sites some distance from any community, and applied, when concerned with infrastructure sustainability above thawing permafrost.
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