Jianming Zhang, assistant professor of environmental chemistry in Concordia’s Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, has been invited to join Health Canada’s new science advisory committee on pest control products.
The panel of nine researchers from across the country will provide independent guidance to the Government of Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency.
Zhang was selected based on his past experience and ongoing research on environmental processes and exposure to chemicals used in various sectors of modern society, including agriculture.
“Using approaches that integrate laboratory experiments, field monitoring and computer model simulations, my research focuses on the sources of chemicals in the environment, their transport and transformation processes,” he explains.
“These processes affect how chemicals can enter ecosystems and the human body. This information allows us to determine the associated ecological and human health risks of these chemicals.”
Zhang arrived at Concordia in 2021 after earning a BSc from Peking University and an MSc and PhD from the University of Toronto and completing postdoctoral training at Harvard University. He also has experience with government agencies.
“I also worked as a scientific assessor with the government, for example, at Health Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency, assessing environmental fate processes and pesticide exposure,” Zhang reports.
The researchers on the committee bring many perspectives from their different fields. “They will contribute in various parts to the science-based regulation of pesticides and achieve the ultimate goal, which is to ensure that pesticides will not cause harmful effects on populations or the environment,” he says.
Focus on SDGs
Zhang recently assembled a team of undergraduate and graduate students to work on a sustainability co-design project funded by Concordia’s Center for Teaching and Learning. The team is redesigning the Air, Water and Soil Processes (CHEM 283) to emphasize the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
“This is an introduction to environmental chemistry courses for chemistry and biochemistry students and those in the Environmental and Sustainability Science program. The curriculum covers the fundamentals of environmental chemistry relating to air, water and soil,” notes Zhang. does.
“The curriculum prompts students to think of the environment as a whole system. Often, environmental issues occur in one environmental medium, for example in the air, but are also influenced by and influenced by chemical processes in other environmental media. Maybe,” he says.
“Most of the material covered in the curriculum has an impact on our daily lives, for example, UV radiation, sunscreen and their associated health and environmental effects.”
Zhang first taught CHEM 283 in the Winter 2022 term. “The Sustainability Co-Design Project provides a great opportunity for instructors to work with students to incorporate sustainability concepts into the curriculum,” he says.
“Currently I am working with two students, Guzal Riskulova, an undergraduate in environmental and sustainability science, who took the course in the winter semester, and Cassandra Johansson, a PhD student in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry,” he says.
“We put in place a plan to incorporate sustainability components into the curriculum, enrich the learning goals of the curriculum, and make the curriculum more inclusive with newly designed activities and assessment methods.”
partnership is important
Zhang says that his research and teaching contribute to many of the 17 SDGs, including SDG 6 – Clean Water and Sanitation, SDG 11 – Sustainable Cities and Communities, SDG 14 – Life Underwater, and SDG 15 – On Land. life is involved. Now he is looking beyond that.
“I think partnerships are essential to SDG 17 – goals to achieve all other SDGs. Partnerships are important to address environmental issues,” he says.
“I have for example established a partnership with Environment and Climate Change Canada. The partnership provides opportunities for interdisciplinary and cutting-edge scientific investigation that has led to some impressive results, such as the study published in our recent paper. Naturesays Zhang.
“My team will work closely with private sector partners, for example, to investigate chemical additives used in rubber tyres.”
In line with SDG 17, one of Zhang’s aims at Concordia is to engage the larger community in its research and teaching. “We can provide information about how people can try to reduce their exposure to chemicals of environmental and health concerns in their daily lives and we as citizen scientists look to involve the local community in our research. Hope you too.”
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