Graduate Spotlight: Jonathan Oliver

Jonathan Oliver Grad student spotlight

"Hometown: Saint John, New Brunswick

Graduate Research Focus:

My master’s research is focused on characterizing arsenic concentrations in soils around the Yellowknife, NT area as well as distinguishing between anthropogenic and geogenic arsenic. To accomplish these goals, I completed two field seasons and collected 311 soil samples. In addition to bulk geochemistry, I’ve analyzed twenty samples using bulk-XANES, a synchrotron based technique, at the Argonne National Laboratory near Chicago, Illinois. I am also in the processes of analyzing samples using the scanning electron microscope (SEM) that is in our department. Using these analytical methods will allow me to determine if the arsenic in the soil samples was produced from roasting of gold-ore in the Yellowknife area or if the arsenic is from natural weathering of bedrock. Data obtained from this study will be used in Yellowknife to notify the public of areas high in arsenic concentrations.

My project also involves an internship with Arktis Solutions. This summer I traveled to Baffin Island twice to complete environmental audits at a mine site. I also worked on a revegetation survey for a closing mine and assisted and in northern research.

Why I chose to do graduate studies:

After I completed my undergraduate degree in Newfoundland, I completed a one-year advanced diploma in water quality. This allowed me to attain a job with Golder Associates based in Calgary with the water quality group. I traveled to different mines sites while working with Golder witnessing first-hand many environmental issues in the mining industry. I decided that I wanted to do something more, I wanted to learn about these environmental issues and work to prevent them from happening.

Jonathan in the field

Why Queen’s?:

Through a mutual colleague, I was introduced to Heather Jamieson. I quickly realized that Heather and her research group were at the forefront of environmental geochemistry. It became obvious that if I wanted to solve environmental issues in the mining industry, studying with Heather at Queen’s was the best option. I feel lucky to have the opportunity to work with her and her research group.

What do you do in your spare time?:

A lot of my spare time is spent doing landscape photography. I like to get up early to photograph the sunrise or stay out late to photograph the sunset and stars. I enjoy playing sports, mostly hockey and softball, although I’d pretty much play anything. I like to get out for hikes and explore the outdoors whenever possible.

What’s next for you?:

I’m hoping to finish my master’s in the summer of 2018. Afterwards I’d like to land a job working with either government or an environmental company focused on mine site