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Research Hydrogeochemist

Department: Earth Sciences Effective Date:

February 17, 2005

Grade: Reports to: Manager CGWR

General Accountability

This Research Hydrogeochemist position reports to Dr. David Blowes, a Professor in the Earth Sciences Department and Canada Research Chair in Groundwater Remediation. Under Dr. Blowes' supervision, the Hydrogeochemist conducts investigations of mining and industrially related inorganic groundwater contamination from laboratory, field research and computer modelling perspectives.

Nature and Scope

Dr. Blowes’ research team consists of several technicians and two Research Hydrogeochemists who collaborate, but work independently on separate projects that fall within the framework of Dr. Blowes’ overall research program. The Hydrogeochemist is involved with all aspects of groundwater research, from planning and conducting experiments, to analysing and reporting results and the preparation of peer-reviewed journal manuscripts. The generation of research information crucial to the understanding of inorganic groundwater contamination and remediation is the ultimate goal of this position.

Typically, multiple laboratory and field research projects run concurrently. Specific areas of investigation include groundwater contamination by dissolved metals/metalloids at mining and other industrial sites, and groundwater remediation. The incumbent has interaction with both government and industry, since field research occurs on their properties. From time to time, the Hydrogeochemist will require the assistance of junior laboratory and field personnel to complete the research mandates. The incumbent is responsible for the supervision of these workers during their involvement in the projects. Graduate students are also often involved in the research projects. The Hydrogeochemist may serve as a liaison between the supervisor and these junior personnel or graduate students. For graduate student projects that are financially large, long lasting or exceedingly complex, the hydrogeochemist may assist with technical/training, logistical and financial concerns and with continuity of the project between students. Because of this close interaction, Dr. Blowes, the hydrogeochemist, and the graduate students co-author company reports, journal manuscripts and conference presentations.

The hydrogeochemist shares responsibility for the day-to-day maintenance of several laboratories and the adherence of individuals working in the laboratory to proper safety procedures.

The Hydrogeochemist plans and conducts groundwater research to meet and satisfy project budget requirements. This includes any travel required for field research. Procurement of funding is the responsibility of the supervisor; however, the Hydrogeochemist is expected to assist in this procedure through the generation of research proposals and through strong interaction with current and potential corporate clients and government agencies such as NSERC.

The procurement of funding sufficient to efficiently attain the objectives of the research projects is a significant challenge in this position. Unfortunately, the alternative of scaling back the objectives brings with it lower quality research results, which in turn increases the difficulty of obtaining new funding. The task is made more complex because of the fact that the job position is wholly contingent on the availability of funding from industrial and government research agency sources, with no funding provided from the university. Increased communication between the University and UW researchers funded in this way (i.e. soft money researchers) would be beneficial.

Statistical Data

There are several laboratory and field projects that the Hydrogeochemist is participating in, or has recently participated in. Specific projects will change as contracts are completed and new ones undertaken, however, the nature and scope of the research will remain unchanged.

Current and recent research includes:

•  Placer Dome Canada Ltd.: Investigation of the performance of reactive materials used for the passive remediation of arsenic contaminated groundwater at a mine site (ongoing)

•  DuPont Company: Investigation of a full-scale permeable reactive barrier used passive remediation of arsenic contaminated groundwater at an industrial site (ongoing)

•  Placer Dome Canada Ltd.: Investigation of a mercury contaminated aquifer at a mine in central Chile (ongoing)

•  Noranda-Falconbridge Limited: Investigation of the performance of a reactive barrier used for treatment of mine drainage (ongoing)

•  INCO Limited: Investigation and modelling of covers for reducing detrimental drainage from tailings (completed 2001)

•  WISMUT GmbH (Germany): Reactive transport modelling of acidic drainage through a uranium mine, Konigstein, Germany (completed 2001)

•  EPA and US Coast Guard: Monitoring and interpretation of the geochemistry at a permeable reactive barrier installed in North Carolina (completed 1999)

This is a partial list of the projects that the hydrogeochemist has been involved since the inception of research with these companies. Involvement has been in the form of research proposal preparation, budget management, guidance of M.Sc. and students, and interpretation and communication of scientific results. The industrial and government research funding over the life of these projects is near $2M. Additionally, the Hydrogeochemist assisted with setup of a CFI research proposal and equipment acquisition, worth more than $2M itself to Dr. Blowes’ research program. Financial authority for all of these projects is the sole responsibility of Dr. Blowes.

Specific Accountabilities

The primary role of the Research Hydrogeochemist is to conduct scientific research. The Hydrogeochemist assists the supervisor in all aspects of the investigations, from planning and conducting experiments to analysing and reporting results. Results are published in accredited scientific journals and are presented at scientific meetings and conferences.

The Hydrogeochemist position assists with the management (e.g. financial, logistical) and the determination of scientific outcome of a variety of research projects that may or may not involve student research. The guidance and training provided to the students by the Hydrogeochemist improves their ability to complete and understand their research. By being responsible for non-research specific project management activities of projects that are financially large or of long duration the student is left free to conduct research.

The maintenance of strong corporate partner interest in the research is critical to the value of the research, and is a key accountability for this position. So-called return business by these partners and continued interest by government funding agencies is a highly valued outcome of this interaction.

The Hydrogeochemist also shares in the accountability for the setup, upkeep and safety of laboratory facilities and scientific equipment used by Dr. Blowes’ research group. The outcome of these activities is technologically advanced and safe laboratories well suited to use by Dr. Blowes’ research group.

Working Conditions