Department of Geography and Planning

Department of Geography and Planning
Department of Geography and Planning
Portrait of Melissa Lafrenière.

Melissa Lafrenière

Associate Professor
Mackintosh-Corry Hall, Room D124
613-533-6000 ext. 78720

On leave July 1, 2017-June 30, 2018

I was born and raised in Mattawa Ontario, in the Ottawa River Valley. My interest in hydrology and water quality issues sprung from growing up in an environment where much of my well-being was dependant on the flow and quality of the Mattawa River. I obtained my undergraduate degree in Geography from the University of Western Ontario (B.Sc. H. 1996). After completing my B.Sc., I pursued additional undergraduate training in Geology at the University of Ottawa (1996-97). Through these undergraduate experiences I gained an understanding of, and curiosity for, the relationships that exist between the quality and quantity of water, the earth it flows through, human activities, and climate. This led me to the Rocky Mountains and the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Alberta where I studied the role of glaciers in pesticide contamination in alpine lakes (Ph.D. 2003). I spent 7 months as a post-doctoral fellow and sessional instructor at the University of Alberta, before joining the Department of Geography at Queen’s in July 2004.


Research Interests:

My research interests lie in the area of climate change and human impacts on the hydrology and biogeochemistry of alpine and arctic environments. Climate warming and human activities (e.g. urbanisation, forestry, energy production, and agriculture) are altering and will continue to alter global biogeochemical cycles (e.g. atmospheric CO2, nutrients, and contaminants) and hydrological processes. Alpine and arctic environments are particularly sensitive to climate change due to feedbacks involving the cryosphere (snow, permafrost and glacier ice) and the cycles of energy and water. High rates of deposition and accumulation of atmospherically-transported chemical also make many cold environments sensitive to anthropogenically-driven changes in atmospheric chemistry. Current research interests include investigating the influence of anthropogenic inputs on nitrogen deposition and export in alpine catchments, and describing how the biogeochemical cycles of DOC and N in arctic catchments vary with changes in climatic, geomorphic and hydrological variables. These investigations involve a combination process studies and experimentation in the field, and laboratory analyses of surface water chemistry.

Graduate students under my supervision can expect to pursue a range of research interests related to climate change and biogeochemistry (nutrients, contaminants, metals) in arctic and alpine environments.

Curriculum Vitae (PDF 196kB)