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Office: Planet Earth

Kathy Wallace works directly with Dr. Nick Eyles at UTSC and spends a lot of her time out in the field, including beautiful areas like the Scarborough Bluffs

A great day at the office!Hi, I'm Kathy Wallace and I'm a first year Ph.D. student in Environmental Science working with Dr. Nick Eyles here at UTSC. Today my office was the Scarborough Bluffs. And yes, it was a great day. I got to tag along on a field trip Nick was leading for a third-year undergrad course in Glacial Sedimentology - a course studying the glacial history of our area and the deposits and landforms they laid down.

Up until a couple of months ago my "office" was a more traditional one. I have spent the past 20 years as an Environmental Geoscientist working in environmental consulting. My past work mainly involved the investigation and remediation of contaminated sites. While working full-time, I completed my Master of Environmental Science degree here at UTSC on a part-time basis. It was a challenge, but I loved it. So, here I am no longer Kathy Wallace, Environmental Consultant but Kathy Wallace, full-time Ph.D. student.

I've learned already that my new definition of the "office" will be limited only by the confines of "Planet Earth". My new "job" will entail many different roles during the next few years: student; teaching assistant; research assistant to Nick and researcher in my own right. Today I got to do a favourite part of my new job: working with students. This morning we left on an early bus ride down to the beach along Lake Ontario and the Scarborough Bluffs. In the early morning light, we were able to see firsthand the different layers of glacial sediments that overlay much of the Greater Toronto Area.

We then travelled north over the former Lake Iroquois Shoreline and up to York Region to see glacial landforms such as drumlins, kames, kettles and finally up onto the Oak Ridges Moraine. Our final stop was at the Beare Road Landfill, a closed landfill located within an abandoned sand and gravel pit.

The need for understanding glacial sedimentology for protecting our ground water resources really hit home to all. Students are active participants in discussions at each location and are encouraged to sort the problems out on their own. I enjoy my conversations with students along the way to each site, including hiking to the top of a landfill! I am honoured that I get to share my enthusiasm for geoscience and the environment with them.

We are very excited about Geologic Journey II. Our students will be watching and so will I. So I hope you will follow along as I start out on my Ph.D. journey. Welcome to my crazy new life!

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