Hello, and welcome to the Earth and Atmospheric Sciences mentorship program here at the University of Alberta! During the pilot program running from September 1, 2021 to April 30, 2022 we hope to improve the student experience in EAS and ensure better pastoral care. The EAS community takes pride in the positive connections between faculty members and students at all levels, which collectively contribute to a supportive and intellectually stimulating environment. However, this strong community is not initially apparent to prospective or incoming students. As a result, there is a difficulty locating and navigating resources available to students such as program requirements, reporting processes, and mental health services. The EAS mentorship program will be the most effective way to approach and improve these problems within our department by providing a support network to undergraduate and graduate students in the form of mentors. Mentor-mentee relationships will work to bridge the gap in communication between various levels of the department body and improve the sense of community for all in EAS.
Our hope is to initiate a permanent mentorship program after feedback from the pilot program. If you have any questions or concerns about the mentorship program please feel free to contact EASmentorship@gmail.com. If you missed the chance to participate as a mentee or mentor in the pilot program, everyone is able to view the handbook that provides a collection of resources on various topics from mental health to scholarships.
Below you can view our current graduate student and faculty mentors:
Graduate Student Mentor Profiles
Name: Avni Patel
Field of Study: Geochemistry/mineralogy
Bio: I'm Avni, a 2nd year PhD student from London (UK, not Ontario). When I'm not a lab dweller, I like to climb, play tennis and paint. I'm also hoping to pick up squash this year, so if anyone has top tips hit me up.
Topics that you have personal experience with? Anxiety, Depression, PTSD, Sexual Assault
Name: Maya LaGrange Rao
Field of Study: Sedimentary geology and geochemistry
Bio: Hey, I’m Maya, a PhD student in geology! I’m from Kelowna and also did my undergrad at the U of A. Favourite YEG activities: burgers at the Next Act, river valley walks and runs, Faculty Club crib games, ice creams from anywhere, and skating at Hawrlek!
Name: Daniela Gutierrez Rueda
Field of Study: Geochemistry
Bio: I started my master's in September 2020 and obtained my BSc in Geology from the University of Calgary. My MSc focuses on the use of trace elements in chert to increase our understanding of the Precambrian environment. In my free time, I enjoy spending time outdoors, trying new restaurants, and playing tennis!
Topics that you have personal experience with? Always down to talk about being a student, being a woman in STEM, mental health, and immigrating to Canada!
Name: Nicklas Baran
Field of Study: Urban and Regional Planning
Bio: I am a second-year Master's student in the Urban and Regional Planning program. I like plants and think that they can save the world. Peanut butter is best served crunchy.
Name: Kira Holland
Field of Study: Glaciology & Paleoclimatology
Bio: My name is Kira and I am a second year PhD student here in EAS. I'm originally from San Antonio, Texas, and moved to Toronto for my MSc, followed by a move to Edmonton for my PhD (one could call me a lover of extreme weather). My research focuses on understanding Holocene climate change through the use of ice archives, primarily in the form of ice wedges and glacial ice cores. In my spare time, I love to hike and camp, explore the many coffee shops of Edmonton, and watch horror movies with my partner.
Topics that you have personal experience with? Moving to Canada and communicating with your advisor
Name: Sheridan Sigstad
Field of Study: Geology
Bio: Sheridan has been at the University or Alberta since 2012. Since then, he has finished his Bachelor of Science degree with Specialization in Geology and started on his PhD this year with aspirations to become a professor. His research focuses on a variety of topics within soft sediment Geology with a specific interest in the area of ichnology (study of trace fossils). Outside of university Sheridan enjoys Archery and competitive Powerlifting.
Name: Dwi Pratiwi
Field of Study: Environmental Bio-Geochemistry
Bio: An Indonesian, 2nd year of Ph.D. student and at present working on Bacterial Responses on the Heavy metal contaminations removal with the presence of Biochar-nanoparticles. Applying both biomolecular and geochemistry analysis to the research. In my spare time, cooking is the ultimate hobby.
Name: Maria Arizaleta
Field of Study: Geology
Bio: I am doing my master's thesis in environmental geochemistry and obtained my B.Sc. at the University of Calgary in Geology and Environmental Sciences. I love spending time outdoors and also enjoy painting on my free time!
Name: Colton Vessey
Field of Study: Environmental geochemistry and mineralogy
Bio: I am currently in my 2nd year of my PhD in Dr. Sasha Wilson research group. My work focuses on the cycling of trace metal(loid)s during transformation processes of metastable phases. Specifically, my project integrates complementary laboratory and field studies with synchrotron techniques to compare synthetic and natural biogeochemical processes. In my spare time I volunteer with Little Bits Therapeutic Riding, CPAWS, and do public outreach/engagement. I enjoy hiking and fly fishing in the Rocky Mountains, and riding horses competitively.
Topics that you have personal experience with? Anxiety
Name: Jenifer Spence
Field of Study: Geomicrobiology
Bio: I started my PhD in 2020, and am co-supervised by Drs. Kurt Konhauser & Maya Bhatia. My PhD project focuses on employing microbiological and geochemical approaches to investigate the impact of microbes on trace metal acquisition, sequestration, and burial in the aquatic settings, with focus on the Canadian Arctic. Outside of the lab I love baking, and being outdoors!
Name: Patrick White
Field of Study: EAS, Arctic ocean biogeochemistry
Bio: My name is Patrick White and I am a Master’s student working with Dr. Maya Bhatia. I came from Nova Scotia (hometown) to University of Alberta in January 2021 to study how glaciers in the Canadian Arctic may be supplying the ocean with nutrients that are important for phytoplankton. In my free time, I like to cycle, hike and take photos!
Name: Scott Melnyk
Field of Study: Geology/Sedimentology
Bio: Scott is a PhD student in the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences. He is a member of the Ichnology Research group and his research is focused on sedimentary geology. His hobbies include camping, hiking and playing music.
Name: Hayley Drapeau
Field of Study: Biogeochemistry
Bio: Hayley is a MSc student in both Earth Sciences and Biological Sciences supervised by Dr. Maya Bhatia and Dr. Suzanne Tank. Her project is focused on carbon cycling and microbial ecology within glacially sourced streams in the Canadian Rockies. She is passionate about environmentalism and making science more inclusive and accessible to all folks!
Topics that you have personal experience with? Grief and Loss
Name: Spencer Poulette
Field of Study: Economic geology/ aqueous geochemistry
Bio: Hi everyone! My name is Spencer and I am so very excited to be joining the mentorship team this year. I am working on my MSc in economic geology looking how fluids in the Earth transform their environments into ore deposits, focusing on fluid inclusions in epithermal and orogenic gold deposits. Outside of school you can quite frequently find me enjoying the many joys of the outdoors, climbing, woodworking, or playing some video games.
Topics you have personal experience with? Anxiety, depression, LGBTQ2S+, burnout, partner abuse, navigating U of A bureaucracy
Name: Fiona Clark
Field of Study: Geology - diamonds
Bio: I am a PhD student in EAS working in the Diamond Research Group. I moved to Canada from South Africa in Dec 2020. Outside of uni I enjoy cycling, running, hiking, and cooking with friends.
Topics that you have personal experience with? LGBTQ2S+
Name: Sarah Milne
Field of Study: Geology PhD
Bio: I enjoy reading thrillers and Sci-Fi fantasy. I like gentle hikes and recently got a new bicycle so bike rides.
Topics you have personal experience with? Mental health and depression
Name: Jonathan Toma
Field of Study: Geochemistry/Geochronology
Bio: Hello! My name is Jon Toma and I am a doctoral candidate studying geology in the EAS department at the University of Alberta. My academic day job involves chronicling Earth's deep past using an assortment of geologic clocks. And when I’m not sciencing my time is divided amongst various hobbies (hiking, drawing/painting, photography, boardgames, etc.).
Name: Miranda Holt
Field of Study: Planetary Geology
Bio: Hi everyone, I’m Miranda! I completed my undergraduate degree in geology here at the U of A and am currently a second year MSc student studying sulfur in carbonaceous chondrites and curation of astromaterials, with an interest in pursuing a career in the museum field. In my spare time I enjoy reading and writing fantasy novels, drawing, baking, doing yoga, and (like many of my fellow geologists) hiking!
Topics that you have personal experience with? LGBTQ2S+, Women in STEM, Mental Health
Name: Ghazal Lotfi
Field of Study: Urban and Regional Planning
Bio: I'm currently pursuing my masters in Urban and Regional Planning. My current research is on the interrelationship of urban heat islands and transit-oriented developments in Edmonton. I'm currently a Marketing and Research Coordinator for Infill Development in Edmonton Association (IDEA) and a research assistant at the Urban Environment Observatory Lab. During my free time, I enjoy hiking and baking.
Name: Amanda Kotila
Field of Study: Hydrology/Glaciology
Bio: Hi, I'm Amanda and I'm doing a Master's in Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, specifically glacier melt modelling. I love science and I love the mountains, so I'm doubly glad I can pursue both in my research. In my downtime, I like to read, write, cook, hike, and cross-country ski. I love to travel and hope to see more of the world, especially more mountains!
Topics that you have personal experience with? Women in STEM and continuing education
Name: Baolin Wang
Field of Study: Environmental Geochemistry
Bio: I am a PhD candidate who is interested in the occurrence, distribution and transformation mechanism of transition metals such as Ni, Co and Cr during mineral carbonation process and I 've been Canada for three years. I'm a big fan of outdoor activities such as hiking, running and skiing.
Faculty Mentor Profiles
Name: Kurt Konhauser
Field of Study: Geobiology and Geochemistry
Bio: I received my BSc in Geology from the University of Toronto, followed up with a PhD in Earth Sciences from the University of Western Ontario, and then took on my first academic position at the University of Leeds in 1994. I moved to the University of Alberta in 2002 as a Canadian Research Chair in Geochemistry. My research is centered on the role that microbes play in metal cycling on both the modern and ancient Earth. I currently serve as the Associate Chair of Graduate Studies.
Name: Alberto Reyes
Field of Study: Quaternary Geology
Bio: I have worked and studied at UVic (BSc), SFU (MSc), UofA (PhD), UWisconsin-Madison (PDF), and Queen's U. Belfast (faculty). I am primarily a field-based geoscientist with broad interests in landscape and environmental change over recent geological time (whatever that means!). I like cats, classical music, good food, and mountains.
Name: Sasha Wilson
Field of Study: Geochemistry
Bio: I am a biogeochemist and mineralogist whose work focuses on environmental aspects of economic geology and on chemical sedimentology. I use mineral behaviour, with a particular emphasis on crystallography and crystal chemistry, to understand and manage environmental change in engineered and natural settings. Much of my work concentrates on CO2 removal from the atmosphere and recovery of critical metals from mineral wastes. I enjoy hiking and camping, gardening, cross-country skiing and drawing in my spare time.
Name: Murray Gingras
Field of Study: Sedimentary Geology and Invertebrate Paleo (Ichnology)
Bio: Born in northern Alberta on a mosquito farm. The most enduring memory of my youth is wearing muddy rubber boots 182 days / year and snow boots 183 days / year. I earned a BSc in Geology (1995) and a PhD in Sedimentary Geology (1999). Hobbies are growing vegetables and trying to figure out what my cats want. Interests definitely include science, but history is just as fascinating to me.
Name: Emily Grise
Field of Study: Urban Planning - Transportation Planning
Bio: I am an Assistant Professor in the School of Urban & Regional Planning, and my research program centres around several aspects of transportation planning. Most recently, my research agenda has been concerned with the equity implications of public transit service delivery and operations in Canada, such as how well public transit meets the travel needs of Canadian women. I actively embrace opportunities to apply my knowledge and expertise outside of academia, and as an example, I am presently a member of Parks Canadas’ Expert Advisory Panel: Moving people sustainably in the Banff Bow Valley. This work combines my love of Alberta’s Mountain regions and national parks with my passion for developing sustainable transport solutions that foster the wellbeing of our population.
Name: Britta Jensen
Field of Study: Quaternary Geology-Volcanology
Bio: I am an Assistant Professor in EAS, and also did my MSc and PhD here, so have perspectives of our department from both a Faculty and graduate student perspective. My research takes me to a lot of amazing places and would define myself as a field geologist. My love of all thinks dirt and rock naturally has connections to my two main hobbies - gardening and pottery.
Name: Pilar Lecumberri-Sanchez
Field of Study: Mineral deposits/economic geology/geochemistry
Bio: I am a geologist from Spain. I work in geochemistry of mineral deposits both from an academic and an exploration perspective. I enjoy drawing, reading, fixing things, and overall figuring out how things work.
Name: Long Li
Field of Study: Stable isotope geochemistry; (bio)geochemical C and N cycles; subduction-zone process; habitability on the early Earth and Martial analogs.
Bio: Long Li received his post-secondary education and research training in China (1993-2001), USA (2001-2006), France (2006-2009), and Canada (2009-2012) before moved to UofA as a faculty member. He has greatly benefited from this multi-cultural experience and is enthusiastic to promote multi-cultural experience for students in their education, research, and daily life.
Name: Maya Bhatia
Field of Study: Biochemistry
Bio: I joined the Earth and Atmospheric Sciences Department at the University of Alberta in October 2017. Before coming to Edmonton, she completed her PhD in the MIT / Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) Joint Program and she was a NSERC and CIFAR Global Scholar Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver.
Topics that you have personal experience with? Managing a family and an academic career, imposter syndrome, and field work