High school Diploma – Strathcona High school (Similar to A levels),
Bachelor of Science specialisation Biochemistry – University of Alberta,
Certificate in Biomedical Research Methods – University of Alberta,
Year study abroad, Biological Sciences – University of Exeter UK
High school diploma (similar to A levels),
Certificate in Biomedical research.
Guest service representative (assistant) at a yoga studio – Part time to help pay for Uni,
Funded summer research student in paediatric oncology – University of Alberta
Laboratory Scientist for South west water – Inorganic department
Chemistry Section Leader for South west water – Inorganic department
My Employer is South west water. This company is responsible for supplying clean water to the entire south west of England including Bournemouth and the Isle of Scilly! They are also responsible for all of the waste water treatment in the southwest.
Favourite thing to do in my job: I love the problem solving that needs to be done when things go wrong or don't work how you expect!
About Me: I am an enthusiastic young scientist just starting out my career in a laboratory that tests water samples!
I originally come all the way from Canada but now I live in the South West (Exeter) with my husband who comes from England. I competed all of my schooling including my BSc biochemistry in Canada but decided that it was too cold to stay there forever since I don’t like cold winters!
My husband and I love the outdoors and in our free time we like to participate in lots of different outdoor activities. My favourites are rock climbing and downhill mountain biking. Because we like the outdoors so much we both think it’s really important to look after our planet and its diverse environments.
I have always loved science from a very young age and my mum who is a scientist would always let me do messy experiments in our kitchen!
My favourite food is chocolate cake, my favourite movie is legally blonde, and one day I really want to adopt a dog!
I can’t wait to see all of your amazing questions.
My Work: I am a laboratory scientist for South West Water. We test lots of waste/dirty water samples and clean water samples every day to make sure that the environment is safe and that people drinking our water are safe!
I work in the Inorganic section of my laboratory at south west water. In this section we do hundreds of different tests on waste water samples and clean water samples. We test hundreds of thousands of samples every year! We do this testing to make sure clean water is safe for people using it and to make sure the environment stays safe when releasing waste water back into the natural water systems.
Some things we test for include heavy metals like lead, arsenic, chromium, and 23 other metals. It is important to make sure there are very low amounts of certain metals in waste and clean water since some metals like lead and arsenic can be very poisonous to humans and animals in the environment. To test for metals we use a very expensive instrument called an ICP-mass spectrometer that uses a plasma torch to ionise our samples! This torch can get very hot, up to 4000 degrees C.
We also test for things referred to as nutrients that include things nitrites and phosphates that can end up in run off water from farms and other companies. We test for these using a robot called smart chem that mixes sample with some chemicals that will cause a colour change of different strength depending on how much nutrient is in our sample. My favourite reaction is the nitrite one since it turns a bright pink!
We also test for things like pH (how acidic or basic the sample is), turbidity, and conductivity. These are just some examples of the many tests we run at my lab. There is also a microbiology department that even tests for bacteria in water!
We have to report results the the environment agency to show them south west water is doing a good job with treating waste water. We also report results to the drinking water inspectorate to show that our water is safe to drink.
My Typical Day: Every day before we can run samples I wake up all of the robots and instruments. Then we have to run some special samples we make that tell the robots how much sample will cause certain reactions in the robots. This is called a calibration. Then we book in all the samples that have come in. Then we run all of our samples! Once we are done testing the samples we check the results and report them to the teams who use the data to fix water problems.
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
I would describe myself as: curious, adventurous, and passionate.
What or who inspired you to follow your career?
My mum is a biochemistry professor and would plan fun experiments with me when I was little. She is the biggest influence on my love of science!
What was your favourite subject at school?
What did you want to be after you left school?
I have wanted to be a scientist since I was 6 (there is even a photo of year 1 me wearing my mum's lab coat for career day at school)
Were you ever in trouble at school?
Not really, I was a rule follower when I was little.
If you weren't doing this job, what would you choose instead?
If I wasn't doing this job I would want to be planting trees or doing something outdoors.
Who is your favourite singer or band?
My favourite band is called The Struts!
What's your favourite food?
What is the most fun thing you've done?
I went backpacking all over Europe with my sister and had so much fun seeing so many places.
If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!
I would wish for a puppy first! I really want a dog, I grew up with dogs in my house and miss them. Then I would wish for the power to teleport so I can see my family in Canada more often. My last wish would be to get a nice new mountain bike (trek or rocky mountain)
Tell us a joke.
How do scientists freshen their breath? Experi-mints!