U of A researcher Maya Bhatia passes during research trip in Nunavut

"The loss is even more difficult to absorb because she was in the prime of her academic life. And the promise was exceptional," ASSUA president says.

On August 16, Maya Bhatia passed away in Grise Fiord (Aujuittuq), Nunavut, while conducting field work on a research trip. Bhatia was an arctic climate researcher, biogeochemist, and associate professor in the University of Alberta’s department of earth and atmospheric sciences (EAS).

According to a statement on The Quad, the U of A’s official faculty and staff blog, “Bhatia led a team of interdisciplinary researchers from across Canada examining the impact of melting glaciers, ice caps, and ice sheets on global biogeochemical cycles in an effort to provide insight into how Arctic coastal productivity will be impacted by future climate warming.”

There is no information regarding the circumstances of Bhatia’s death, according a CBC article.

“The loss of a community member is shocking and upsetting,” the university’s statement said. “The university is working closely with community services to support the family, their wishes, and affected colleagues, including Bhatia’s students.”

“She was a brilliant and talented researcher and educator,” AASUA president says

Gordon Swaters, president of the Association of Academic Staff at the U of A (AASUA), said that Bhatia’s death is an enormous loss for her family.

“Here’s a mom with two kids and a husband. Can you imagine the shock for these children? It breaks your heart to just think about that,” he said. Swaters added that Bhatia’s death also directly impacts the U of A’s research community.

“She was a brilliant and talented researcher and educator. Climate studies is a big deal particularly within, but not exclusive to, EAS. Her work was instrumental, was at the cutting edge. It will be a blow to the research community in EAS that’s focused on climate work.”

Swaters said that, being an associate professor, Bhatia was “right at that point in your career when you’re firing on all your cylinders.”

“The loss is even more difficult to absorb because she was in the prime of her academic life. And the promise was exceptional.”

Lily Polenchuk

Lily Polenchuk is the 2023-24 Managing Editor at The Gateway. She previously served as the 2023-24 and 2022-23 News Editor, and 2022-23 Staff Reporter. She is in her second year, studying English and political science. She enjoys skiing, walks in the river valley, and traveling.

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