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REF NO.: 130

SUBJECT: The Big Land now has its own postdoctoral fellow

DATE: April 7

The Labrador Institute and the Faculty of Arts are pleased to announce that Dr. Johanna Wolf has accepted the position of postdoctoral fellow for the 2009-2010 academic year.

Dr. Wolf’s research project is entitled “Climate change adaptation in Labrador: An issue of human security.” This project builds on previous investigations Dr. Wolf has conducted that examine perceptions of and responses to climate change and its effects in B.C. coastal communities and among elderly people in the U.K. The postdoctoral research will examine the ways in which climate variability and change affect the well-being of communities in coastal Labrador, considering also other challenges these communities are facing. The project will be an important resource for local efforts to adapt to climate and environmental change.

She says that being named the first Labrador postdoc is “an exciting opportunity – it’s not often that one gets to be a first”.

Dr. Wolf is notable for her interdisciplinary research on the individual and social dimensions of global environmental change, drawing for example on theories of risk perception, social psychology, social networks and ecological citizenship, a relatively new area of research.

Climate change adaptation is highly relevant for coastal communities worldwide and is a major factor in examining the human dimensions of global environmental change. It is particularly relevant and timely in the case of Labrador where issues such as melting permafrost, fluctuating precipitation patterns and the loss of traditional ways of life are already affecting a vulnerable population.

Dr. Wolf’s work will build on the climate change adaptation work of Dr. Trevor Bell of Memorial University’s Geography Department, which has already started in Labrador.

“I am delighted that Dr. Johanna Wolf will be joining the Labrador Institute and our Labrador Highlands Research Group later this year. She brings an interdisciplinary approach to the study of climate and environmental change and adaptation and a wealth of research experience from previous community studies in British Columbia, United Kingdom and Scandinavia,” said Dr. Bell.

“She will contribute significantly to our understanding of community and individual perceptions of climate variability and change, as well as the challenges and opportunities that climate change is creating for coastal resource-dependent communities in Labrador. Her research will further strengthen our research partnerships with communities, organizations and governments in Labrador.”

Dr. Keith Chaulk, director of the Labrador Institute, welcomes Dr. Wolf to the position as first Labrador postdoctoral fellow.

“She brings an extremely impressive academic record and will be a welcome asset to the institute. This is a wonderful opportunity for Labrador to benefit from the ongoing presence of such a notable scholar, who is studying issues unique to our environment and people. We hope this position will be the first of many Labrador postdocs in the years to come.”

           The Labrador Institute was established by Memorial University to establish, coordinate and support projects designed to facilitate the well-being of the Labrador community, as well as to expand the Labrador knowledge base.

In addition to developing her research, Dr. Wolf will broaden her teaching experience by offering a second year geography course at the institute.

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For further information, please contact Janet Harron, communications coordinator for the Faculty of Arts on 737-8292 or via email at


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