I was born/grew up in: Russell, Ontario, Canada
I now live in: Sudbury, Ontario, Canada
I completed my training/education at: University of Toronto
Describe what you do at work.
I have two parts to my work. Between June and August I collect samples and make observations in the field. For the rest of the year I am creating maps based on the information I gathered in the summer. My job involves recording and observing the rocks. This includes their colour, mineral components, textures, structures, and magnetic properties. I also collect samples for chemical analysis to understand the elemental make-up of my rocks. I try to understand the history of the earth before multi-cellular life appeared. I also work to identify the processes that created individual packages of rocks.
I decide where we will look for rock outcroppings and interpret all of the data we collect. When there is limited information I’ll use the available data to create a best guess of what the rocks under the sediment, soil and vegetation look like. My STEM background allows me to test hypotheses, make quality observations, and analyze datasets. It also helps me create clear explanations of the bedrock and its geological history. My colleagues and I review and help each other with our various projects. We sometimes engage in projects to meet the needs of our department. I use science skills to create and test hypotheses. I use math to analyze and interpret my geochemical data. I also use specialized geographic information systems technology to present and plot my data and make my interpretations.
When I was a student I enjoyed:
How does your job affect people’s lives?
All of the maps and information I produce are available to the public to inform land-use planning. They are also used as a baseline for mineral exploration, environmental monitoring and other land-based activities. My career provides important scientific information that is accessible to everyone for free online. This allows people, communities, companies and governments to make informed decisions. My career creates a better understanding of the earth and its history. My research has the potential to result in economic benefits, especially in Ontario's Far North.
What motivates you in your career?
My career allows me to empower the First Nations communities with whom I work. I provide them with unbiased scientific information about the geology of their traditional territories. Field work and working with remote First Nations communities is the best part of my job. I love being outdoors and interacting and learning from other cultures. This career blends field work, data analysis and science communication to a variety of audiences. Seeing my data used to discovery new resources or help inform local First Nations is really rewarding.
When I was a student, I would have described myself as someone who:
Describe your career path to this career.
I hold a Master's degree in geology. I had the opportunity to work for the Northwest Territories Geoscience Office during two of my summers as an undergraduate. I also did gold exploration for another summer. I had originally planned on becoming a paleontologist, studying fossils and ancient life. But I ended up in geology and focusing on earth history prior to the dawn of multi-cellular life. I always wanted to study earth. I loved being outside and had a passion for science and discovery so this was an ideal career opportunity.
My second-year geology professor spoke to me after class one day and told me that I was talented when it came to geology. He offered to assist me in finding my first position that summer as a geological assistant. As a result, I switched majors and went into geology after that summer. Geology and exploration are career-paths that rely heavily on the prices of different minerals. These prices go up and down and I have experienced two downturns where many people in my field lost their jobs. I have been lucky and experienced a lay-off to date and now work for the government where there is a lot more job security.
What activities do you like to do outside of work?
I enjoy playing soccer, running outdoors, skating and painting with acrylics and watercolour. I volunteer on a board of directors and participate in art and environmental events around the city of Sudbury.
What advice or encouragement would you give others seeking a similar career?
If you love large-scale science, the outdoors and adventures in remote of the world, this is a fantastic career!