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U of S names new executive director to lead School of Environment and Sustainability

After decades of studying ecosystems on four continents, Irena Creed is coming to the University of Saskatchewan to lead the School of Environment and Sustainability.

The U of S has appointed Creed as the new executive director of SENS for a five-year term, effective Sept. 1. Creed is a biology professor who holds cross appointments in the departments of geology and earth sciences and who served as a Canada Research Chair in Watershed Sciences for the past 10 years at Western University in London, Ont.

Creed has researched environmental issues across Africa, Asia, Europe and North America, including studying the future of the Laurentian Great Lakes and the Saskatchewan River Basin, which has previously brought her to the U of S. A former acting director of Western University’s Centre for Environment and Sustainability, Creed is anxious to begin her new role with SENS.

“The University of Saskatchewan is a remarkable place, where strong support by senior administration for its signature areas in food, water and energy and Indigenous communities, combined with a collegial and collaborative environment, creates remarkable opportunities for interdisciplinary research and teaching,” said Creed, who was a guest speaker in the Global Institute for Water Security’s Distinguished Lecture Series in 2013 at the U of S. “The world class researchers and students within this broad area of study, as well as the full complement of disciplines and infrastructure, creates remarkable opportunities to achieve SENS mandate to help society tackle the complex problems facing the world.”

Creed’s interdisciplinary training has enabled her to take fresh perspectives and to make fundamental contributions to the field of ecosystem sciences. She has an international reputation for creatively combining theory and practice to improve our understanding of the links between hydrological and biogeochemical processes and their ecological consequences in freshwaters, particularly for communities-at-risk. She has taken leadership roles on Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) grants, and has been invited by provincial and federal governments to provide evidence to support policy decisions on ecosystem services. She is also actively engaged in international research and training in the United States, Europe and Africa.

“Dr. Creed is highly regarded for her work as an environmental researcher, both in North America and overseas, and we are excited to welcome her to our leadership team,” said Michael Atkinson, U of S interim provost and vice-president academic. “Her administrative background and international experience and connections will also help our School of Environment and Sustainability build on its foundation of research excellence.”

Creed brings a diversity of leadership and administrative experience to the position, serving on the President’s Advisory Committee on Environment and Sustainability and as acting director of the Centre for Environment and Sustainability, associate chair of research for the Department of Biology, and director of the interfaculty, interdisciplinary Africa Institute at Western. She is also actively engaged in global initiatives to meet the United Nations sustainability development goals.

Creed earned a Bachelor of Science Honours in zoology, a Master of Science in botany and environmental sciences and a PhD in geography at the University of Toronto, followed by a post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Alberta. In addition to her work at Western for the past 19 years, she has served as a guest professor at Umeå University in Sweden.

Creed takes over from Toddi Steelman, who completed a five-year term as executive director of SENS this year. Steelman led the school during a period of rapid growth in faculty and student engagement to national and international recognition. Her interaction with communities across the country has helped position the school as a trusted and valuable resource for indigenous and non-indigenous communities alike. Steelman's leadership was superb, and her dedication and service to the university was exemplary. The University is confident that Creed's background and accomplishments make her an excellent successor, one who will build on the school's achievements. 

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