When I finished my undergraduate degree in genetics, I was unsure of what I wanted to do. I was tentatively planning to begin an after degree in education when I stumbled upon a job in the University of Alberta Low-Level Mercury Laboratory. I was hired on a four-month contract to analyze snow and water samples collected in the Canadian Arctic and Rocky mountains. The head technician provided me with excellent training in state-of-the art mercury analytical techniques and I grew to love the challenges of the finicky analyses. My contract was extended and soon I began developing new techniques and training other technicians. As I learned about the projects I was helping with, I decided that I wanted to do graduate work on the cycling of mercury in the environment. In 2003, I began an M.Sc. with Dr. Vincent St. Louis. We began working with Manitoba Hydro to examine potentially important sources of mercury to Hudson Bay, where many marine mammals are contaminated with methyl mercury (a vertebrate neurotoxin which bioaccumulates through foodwebs). I was immediately fascinated with the Arctic and with the research, so we expanded the project to a Ph.D. Currently, we are examining mercury species in high and sub Arctic seawater and are finding that deep Arctic seawaters may be production sites of the two toxic methylated mercury species, methyl mercury and dimethyl mercury. I thoroughly enjoy research and hope to continue working on mercury cycling in the Arctic for many years.
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