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Mapping a Future in Environmental Science

Amanda Catenaro, a recent graduate from UTSC's one-year professional Master of Environmental Science program, is already working in the field on various projects including soil and groundwater assessment, monitoring and restoration. (Photo by Ken Jones)

Marsha Smith, Yunzhu (Jenna) Chen and Amanda Catenaro are three of this November’s graduates from the University of Toronto Scarborough’s one-year professional Master of Environmental Science (M.Env.Sc.) program.

Coming to UTSC from near and far—from Hamilton, Ontario, from Sichuan Province in Southwestern China and from Mississauga by way of Nevis in the Caribbean—they share a commitment to environmental sustainability within a diverse field. All three chose the M.Env.Sc. program and its internship option to help them open doors to achieve their career goals. And all three are already well on their way.

From Sichuan Province to the Bruce Peninsula

Jenna Chen studied marine science as an undergraduate at Hainan University in her native China. Based on U of T’s international reputation, she chose UTSC and the Master’s program to expand her focus to other environmental areas. Her internship then brought her to the not-for-profit organization Ontario Nature, which led to her current job there. Her responsibilities include contributing data to an extensive online reptile and amphibian atlas for Ontario, conducting guided habitat tours for the general public, and studying habit impact on the endangered Eastern Massasauga rattlesnake on the Bruce Peninsula. Jenna notes that the rattler is one of many sensitive amphibian and reptile species that are indicators for environmental damage. Eighty percent of these species in Ontario are at risk.

“I love this country, “Jenna adds, “and I love what I’m doing at Ontario Nature.”

Raising awareness about essential habitats

Marsha Smith is a Landscape Assessment Officer within Environment Canada’s Canadian Wildlife Service. She began her career as an analyst in software and later moved to the marketing industry using her spatial analysis and data mining skills developed during undergraduate studies in geography at the University of Waterloo where she specialized in Biophysical Systems and Information Technology.  Returning to her “environmental roots,” Marsha and her husband packed up their lives and their two young children and moved to the Caribbean. There Marsha worked as a lab analyst doing water quality monitoring with the Nevis government, and volunteering with the Nevis Historical and Conservation Society on projects that included mangrove restoration efforts due to the importance of coastal wetlands for filtering groundwater, replenishing ground aquifers, preventing soil erosion and providing spawning ground for marine species. 

After three years on Nevis, Marsha turned to UTSC’s M.Env.Sc. program for grounding in a range of areas. Her internship brought her to the United Nations’ Coastal Ecosystem Program. Among other work and research, Marsha developed content for a new unit in UNU-INWEH’s mangrove education course: Management and Restoration Tools for Mangrove Ecosystems. The course will shortly be released in two versions: a free online course in conservation training aimed at policy and decision-makers, through the Nature Conservancy; and as a post-graduate program on Coastal Zone Management offered by the University of Costa Rica.

Now with Environment Canada, Marsha works with species at risk, mapping critical habitat for Ontario’s endangered species. Since “…a species could occupy land in open fields, wetlands, or in someone’s backyard,” says Marsha, her work also involves marrying public awareness raising with protective legislation and technical decisions about critical lands.

In the business of restoring soil and groundwater

After completing her coursework, Amanda Catenaro interned at EXP, a consulting firm in Markham, Ontario. This quickly evolved into her current full-time position there. She is as likely to be travelling and doing fieldwork as she is to be writing meticulous environmental-compliance reports at head office. Both are critical to her work for clients. Amanda conducts soil and groundwater assessment, monitoring and restoration, based on precise sampling techniques. Most recently she has been supervising the removal of contaminated soil from a construction site.

After Amanda’s undergraduate studies in geology at McMaster University, several of her professors recommended the UTSC M.Env.Sc., based on the graduate and work experiences of other former students. Amanda credits the program with giving her a leg-up into technical and environmental consulting. “The program offers courses in areas like environmental regulation and ecological bio monitoring,” she says. “Although my learning curve at EXP has certainly been exponential, my employer was surprised by what I already knew about consulting when I first arrived.”

For more information on UTSC’s Master of Environmental Science and its Internship and Research Streams, see http://www.utsc.utoronto.ca/~physsci/menvsci/




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