Graduate Spotlight: Melissa Ruel

Melissa Ruel graduate spotlight

Hometown: Montreal, Quebec

Graduate Research Focus:

My master's degree is a one-year project/course-based program in geological engineering. My project focuses on the study of a deep-seated landslide affecting a section of the railway line in Manitoba. My goal was to review the geology of the area, to determine the triggers of the landslide, to study its mode of failure and to determine the most effective and economical way to stabilize the railway line at this location. I worked as a geotechnical engineer for the railway and took a year off to complete my master's degree at Queen’s. As I actually have to fix this site now that I am back to work, I was very eager to study it as part of my master's project with Queen’s!

Why I chose to do graduate studies:

Many reasons! Geotechnics is a very rich area of studies! There are so many things to learn in this field, ranging from local geology, soils and rocks properties, mechanisms of failure, hydrogeology, instrumentations, new technologies and so on! Every site and situation is different and offers unprecedented challenges and learning opportunites.

My job with the railway is to manage the risks associated with geohazards, including rockfalls, landslides, floods & washouts, erosions subsidence, etc. It can be demanding and challenging at times and I was looking forward to acquiring new tools and a technical understanding to assist me with this task.

Why Queen’s?:

Queen’s is an amazing place to do your studies! The teachers and students are very nice and easy-going people in addition to being very knowledgeable. Kingston is also a lovely and friendly place to live in for a few years.

Queen’s is also involved in a research program on railway ground hazard so it was obviously the best place for me to do my graduate studies!

What do you do in your spare time?:

I love playing outside! When I am not chasing natural hazards in the field across Canada for the railway, I’m out hiking, biking or on cross-country trips! I also like travelling and I am currently planning my first 7-day back-packing trip on the West Coast Trail in BC in July!

I tried boxing when I was in Kingston and just loved it! Now that I am back in Montreal, I do boot-camp training on Mount-Royal a few times a week. I also plays softball with friends in the summer and yoga once in a while.

What’s next for you?:

Back on track with the railway! I am happy with my achievement at Queen’s and I am looking forward to making good use of what I learned from my projects.

Melissa Ruel in the field