It’s been a busy year for Dr. Irena Creed, a world-leading scholar in the field of water research. Among her recent accomplishments is receiving an honorary doctorate from the Natural Resources and Agricultural Sciences at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU) in Uppsala.
Creed was one of seven new honorary doctors honoured at the ceremony that took place on October 5, 2019.
The distinction of “doctor honoris causa” at SLU is conferred upon outstanding scientists who have collaborated with SLU faculty, and in Dr. Creed’s case specifically for inspiring SLU faculty in the promotion of transdisciplinary approaches to solving water resource problems in Sweden and elsewhere.
“I first started working in Sweden when I was awarded a Swedish 'Female Guest Professorship' in 2013. Since then I have developed collaborations with faculty from several Swedish universities. I have worked with world-class water scientists on projects including browning of northern surface waters, the emergence of toxin-producing algal blooms in northern lakes, and the importance of forests to the security of our water supplies and achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. I chaired the Global Forest Expert Panel on forests and water, under the auspices of the International Union and Forest Organizations, working closely with SLU faculty, such as Kevin Bishop.”
While the accolades and ceremony took place abroad, Creed's accomplishment is being celebrated locally.
“Receiving an Honorary Doctorate is a rare accomplishment in the career of any academic and a huge honour. The School of Environment and Sustainability extends its sincere congratulations to Professor Creed – we are proud that she is a member of SENS and happy for her that she has been bestowed this distinguished title," said Dr. Karsten Liber, Executive Director (Interim) for SENS.
While there have been several career milestones this year, Creed continues to look ahead. Her love of transdisciplinary inquiry puts her at the forefront of issues like climate change, natural resource management, and sustainable development - all through a “water lens”. Certainly, her work shines in the conversion of research outcomes into useful public policy; for instance, Creed was invited by the Government of Alberta to help inform and implement the province’s wetland policy.
“What’s important is that this work is relevant not only within the research community but to the end-users of research including government, industry, and communities. This demands that the work be presented in such a way that end-users can access and use them to create sustainable solutions to the challenges they face every day. There are consequences to human actions on this planet, but there are remedies, too. The remedies are best if they can be mobilized for action by all,” said Creed.
The research Creed is most passionate about, and the policies her work informs, strike at the heart of the border between natural and social sciences.
“A sustainable future for our planet requires transdisciplinary thinking, where the university works with end-users to define problems and design solutions. It’s a privilege for me to nurture leadership in transdisciplinary research – engaging diverse perspectives and systems thinking both from within and outside academia. As academics, it’s important to immerse ourselves within government, industry, and communities to create and mobilize knowledge for everyone’s benefit. This is how we will create lasting, impactful change.”