UM Today UM Today University of Manitoba UM Today UM Today UM Today
News from
Faculty of Graduate Studies
UM Today Network
Aurora Robert

Aurora Robert named a 2024 Pierre Elliott Trudeau Scholarship Finalist

May 21, 2024 — 

Aurora Robert, a PhD student from the University of Manitoba, has been named as one of 30 finalists in the highly competitive Pierre Elliott Trudeau Scholarship process. The prestigious scholarship, which recognizes exceptional doctoral students who are committed to solving complex societal issues, has acknowledged Aurora’s research in computational modeling and its potential impact on policy formation, particularly in the realm of climate change mitigation.

Aurora’s research focuses on increasing pro-environmental behaviours (PEBs) to slow climate change impacts. Fortunately, a widely accessible PEB is residential composting programs. However, the high costs and uncertain success of these programs have limited their adoption. To address this, she developed a simulation that models a residential composting program. The simulation measures the annual waste diverted from landfills and its impact on existing recycling behaviours. It also estimates the production of nutrient-rich compost by-products, which can enhance soil stability and support farming. These by-products can be sold to generate revenue, helping to offset program costs. The simulation can determine how many years it will take to recoup initial costs and the annual profit thereafter. It is adaptable to any city, allowing customization for different population sizes, waste amounts, program costs, and by-product sale prices. This simulation is user-friendly, enabling those without coding experience to benefit from it. This tool can persuade policymakers to invest in accessible composting initiatives, promoting pro-environmental behaviours and mitigating climate change while demonstrating the practicality of such investments.

One of her primary research objectives is to understand and promote composting behaviours among Canadian households through the development of an Agent-Based Simulation. Aurora recognizes that the current simulation is suited for urban areas, and that Indigenous peoples are affected by climate change to a greater extent than other populations. Her goal is to work with Indigenous communities to build an additional simulation that integrates their cultural values and addresses climate change impacts specific to their regions.

Dr. Johnson Li, Aurora’s PhD advisor, commends her as a highly inspirational and engaging student with a bright future. “It is my highest pleasure to know and supervise Aurora, a highly inspirational and engaging PhD student who has a bright future to shape and help improve Canadian environment through her proposed Agent-Based Simulation that would better understand recycling and composting behaviours of Canadian households.”

Dr. Wan Wang, who was Aurora’s advisor in her master’s program shared: “Aurora has a genuine interest in solving global challenges to the society (i.e., climate change) via psychological research and advanced quantitative methods. Being selected as a finalist for such a prestigious scholarship is a momentous accomplishment. Aurora’s scientific research, resourcefulness, insightfulness, and willingness to appreciate differences in people, opinions, and methodologies will help the community learn how to best integrate personal/household sustainable actions into collective outcomes to combat global environmental risks.”

In her own words, Aurora emphasizes the significance of her research, stating, “Using computational modeling to inform policy is an avenue of research I am passionate about as it allows me to combine my enthusiasm for quantitative psychology and climate change mitigation. I am proud to have been able to represent the University of Manitoba as a finalist, while pursuing research that I believe can contribute to a better future.”

“It is a testament to Aurora and her current and former advisors that she has achieved this recognition and is a finalist in the competition. I wish her the best of luck in her research and the next steps.” says Dr. Kelley Main, Dean of the Faculty of Graduate Studies,

© University of Manitoba • Winnipeg, Manitoba • Canada • R3T 2N2

Emergency: 204-474-9341