FEWA Lab
Queen's University

School of Environmental Studies
Dept. of Geological Sciences & Geological Engineering

Lab Members

Dr. David McLagan

Lab Principal Investigator

Bio

I have been an Assistant Professor in Dept. of Geology and School of Environmental Studies at Queen’s University since July 2022. In 2023, I was recipient of a Governor General’s Innovation award, which annually honours Canada’s most innovative people across all sectors. In 2024, I was awarded the (international level) Emerging Researcher Award on mercury as global pollutant (award at the 16th International Conference on Mercury as a Global Pollutant in Cape Town)

I took up my current role after a year as a Teaching Stream Professor at the University of Toronto (UofT), which in turn followed a German Science Foundation (DFG) and Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) funded postdoctoral fellow at the Technical University of Braunschweig (TUBS), and a role as a research associate with Environment & Climate Change Canada (ECCC).

I hold a PhD in Environmental Sciences from UofT. My doctoral work was supported by NSERC (CGS-D) and earned me the Governor General’s Gold Medal: the most prestigious graduate-level academic award available in Canada. I hold a Bachelor of Science (1st Class Honours) from Griffith University (Australia), where I received the University Medal for outstanding achievement.

The roots of my education, teaching, and research are in environmental sciences, an intrinsically multi-disciplinary area of science. Naturally, my research has evolved to be highly interdisciplinary; I have published studies spanning the atmosphere, biosphere, lithosphere, and hydrosphere. Central to this research is understanding the biogeochemical cycling of contaminants within and between the Earth’s “spheres” with a focus on the development of novel, yet often accessible technologies and methods to advance our scientific understanding of contaminant biogeochemistry. This relates to my philosophy of “Global Science” that encourages the dissemination of information, intersectoral collaboration, bridging of Knowledge systems, and empowers local scientists and communities across world.

Away from science, I have a wife and two kids that I love spending time with in the forest, particularly examining the fascinating world of fungi; learning about foraging foods (inc. mushrooms) is just the best. I am a self professed coffee-snub; I think I’d rather lick my own boots than drink bad coffee. I also love listening to music (some may call it dated; I prefer vintage), cycling (year round commuter), hiking, canoeing, swimming, football (the one played with the foot), basketball, and cricket. Eating delicious, globally inspired vegetarian food is definitely worth a mention here too!

 Memberships and Associations:

Biogeosciences (EGU/Copernicus Journal) – Associate Editor

International Association of Wildland Fire (IAWF)

European Geophysical Union (EGU)

Canadian Geophysical Union (CGU)

Curriculum Vitae

Nimelan Veerasamy

Post Doc (Dept. Geology) – Leading research & method development on Hg stable isotopes

Bio
I am an interdisciplinary researcher with a specific focus on contaminant geochemistry in different compartments of the environment. Recently, I have been awarded “William E. White Post doctoral fellowship” at GSGE, and joined FEWA lab, where I am going to research about Hg biogeochemical cycle using fingerprints of stable Hg isotopes. Preceding this, I worked as researcher in Tritium research center at Institute for Environmental sciences, Japan. I have a PhD in environmental geochemistry and natural radioactivity at Tokyo Metropolitan University, Japan. My doctoral research was fully funded by “Tokyo Human Resources fund for City diplomacy” a PhD fellowship by Tokyo Metropolitan Government, Japan. My doctoral research was to understand the dynamics of artificial and natural radionuclides, metals and REEs and their environmental impact and human health. Through my research, I would like to contribute to forming intersectoral collaborations to help bridge gaps and inequities by empowering local and international communities to enhance sustainable and environmental protection.

Apart from research, I love to cook, listen to music, or watch anime. I also like to go trekking/hiking and collect minerals and rocks. I also play Kabbadi, an Asian sport like Rugby, Cricket, and Hand ball.

Florence Kayode

PhD (School of Environ. Studies) – Global Earth systems and Wildfire modelling of carbon and climate change feedbacks.

Bio

I am Kayode Florence Abiodun, from Nigeria, and I am currently a doctoral candidate specializing in “Carbon Dynamics and Climate Extremes” at the School of Environmental Studies, Queen’s University. My academic journey began with a BSc. in Statistics, followed by MSc. in Mathematical Science for Climate Resilience, and MRes. in Informatics for Climate Change. These diverse educational experiences have equipped me with a holistic understanding of the interdisciplinary nature of climate science.

My research focuses on advancing wildfire simulations within the CLASSIC framework. I am actively involved in implementing a global fire weather index and employing machine learning algorithms to optimize parameter values. This process includes updating burnt area products, integrating the fire weather index into the model, and developing a robust data assimilation system. I am collaborating closely with experts from Environment and Climate Change Canada, our objective is to enhance wildfire parameterization for seamless integration into CanESM’s upcoming iteration. 
My academic pursuits have been complemented by hands-on experiences gained through internships. After completing my MSc., I interned with the African Mathematics Initiative, contributing to the implementation of mathematical and statistical models in R-instat. Subsequently, I had the privilege of working with Deltares Netherlands & United Nations, where I assessed the impact of Climate Change on mobility across Africa as part of the African Climate Mobility Initiative.

Outside of academia, I find joy in planning new adventures and exploring diverse cultures through travel. My academic journey has not only enriched my knowledge but has also provided me with invaluable opportunities for personal and professional growth.

Excellent Eboigbe

MSc (Dept. Geology) – ASGM Hg Pollution: impacts on agriculture in Nigeria

Bio
Originally from Nigeria, I have a background in Environmental Science from the Federal University of Petroleum Resources, Effurun. I have worked in the past analyzing soil, water, and other sample types for heavy metal determination, using the AAS. I also have research experience in environmental toxicology. My favorite activity is volunteering and I currently volunteer at the Global Shapers Community – Port Harcourt Hub. In the past, I co-led the climate and environment team of the hub where I designed and implemented climate projects involving air pollution, climate education, and particularly the soot pollution in Port Harcourt. Now, I currently serve as the communications co-lead. My major interest revolves around understanding the earth and the environment and particularly as it concerns environmental pollution and environmental sustainability, my current research is focused on monitoring staple food crops grown close to ASGM sites, particularly to assess the routes and level of pollution exposure in these crops by employing the use of procedures like Hg stable isotopes, THg, and MeHg analyses. My career objective has always been to design experiments that provide critical data to understanding environmental issues and then apply those data to models that will broaden the understanding and scope of these issues to help tackle environmental pollution and sustainability issues, especially in developing nations like Nigeria. I enjoy reading, writing codes, hanging out, and learning new things.

Daniel Lu

MSc (School Envion. Studies) – Wildfire emissions modelling: model-measurement evaluations (collab. with ECCC)

Bio
Hello, my name is Daniel, and I am thrilled to be joining the FEWA lab as a Masters student! For my undergraduate degree, I majored in Physics, where I developed a particular interest in electromagnetism and mathematical physics. In my Master’s program, I plan on applying what I learned to climate change modeling, specifically by analyzing carbon emission data from wildfires. My goal is to fine-tune a model that can be used for other carbon emission predictions and tracking. Additionally, I will be working closely with Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) on this project, which provides me with access to real-time data and modeling tools through their supercomputer servers.

I am currently a teaching assistant at the Royal Military College of Canada (RMC), where I assist first-year physics and engineering students with experiments and scientific writing. Additionally, I work as a customer service representative at the Queen’s Athletics and Recreation Centre. Feel free to say hi if you happen to be on campus!

When I’m not working or studying, you can usually find me traveling. I absolutely love exploring new places and learning about local cultures and traditions. I also enjoy swimming and playing badminton, as well as watching hockey and American football with my partner.

Grant Chenier

MSc (Dept. Geology) – UAV-based Wildfire emissions monitoring: method development

Bio
I am thrilled to be continuing my studies at Queens University as a member of the FEWA Lab. Previously, I studied Computer Science as an undergraduate at Queen’s with a focus in computer vision and artificial intelligence culminating in the completion of a functional alarm clock/speaker controlled using only hand gestures. I am excited to be taking my interests in robotics and AI further by applying them to real world issues, more specifically issues related to the environment and climate change. I am also excited to continue to improve my knowledge base within environmental studies beyond non-required courses taken during undergraduate where the majority of courses taken were related to environmental toxicology. After graduation, I spent a year working as a Technical Sales Engineer at OneShield Software where primary responsibilities included SQL database management, UI creation and configuration and workflow functionality built out mainly in JavaScript. Finally, I have invested some time into personal projects outside of work developing an algorithm to detect the presence of fire in an image or video with a 97% success rate. The opportunity to merge these two fields is quite exciting and, I believe, is a step in the right direction to effectively manage climate and environmental situations in the future.

Outside of my studies I enjoy being outdoors, mostly participating in hikes in the summer and skiing in the winter along with a new found hobby of whitewater kayaking. For days when I am not as feeling as ambitious, I enjoy relaxing by reading or playing the guitar.

Nicolas Valenzuela

MSc (Dept. Geology) – Hg archiving and cycling in trees in Chile

Bio
Born and raised in Chile, I graduated from Andrés Bello University with a degree in Geology, where I also worked as a laboratory teacher. As an undergraduate student, I was especially interested in the field of geochemistry, paleoclimatology and climate change. Due to the breadth of these fields, I was interested in doing research that combined my knowledge and academic interests, which led me to work on my undergraduate thesis with speleothems, seeking to reconstruct the climate of the past from isotopic and geochemical variations preserved in the calcite formations of caves (speleothems). Due to these studies on stalagmites, my interest in climate change and isotope geochemistry increased considerably, as well as my desire to venture abroad and have the opportunity to nourish myself with the vision and knowledge of people from all over the world. Therefore, I am very excited to continue learning and adding new experiences at Queen’s University as a member of the FEWA Lab where I will study Hg archiving and cycling within Chilean trees using stable isotopes. On a personal level I enjoy football a lot, mainly playing football and watching Universidad de Chile games, my favorite team. I also love to go trekking, watch NBA games, hang out with my friends and play video games.

Hannah Moran-MacDonald

MSc (Dept. Geology) – Fungi and fire

Bio

Born in Vancouver, but raised here in Kingston, Ontario, I have spent the past 4 years studying environmental biology. Some of my favourite experiences include working at the biological station (QUBS), as a research assistant in Ryan Danby’s lab, and with friends receiving the Gray Family Student Initiative Fund, to mitigate and understand dispersal of Lymantria dispar dispar (LDD moth). My undergraduate thesis involved quantifying microplastic sedimentation rates in a boreal lake, of which Dr. McLagan was my examiner. The results will hopefully inform microplastic exposure to aquatic biota, and remediation methods.

I was also grateful to receive an Undergraduate Student Research Award from NSERC, so in summer 2023 I investigated prescribed fires and wildfires and their effects on fungi using soil DNA extractions, fruiting body DNA and chemical analyses, and ecological observational data. I am extremely happy to be in the FEWA lab, work with brilliant people, and challenge my ways of knowing. Starting in May 2024, I have decided to continue with this research (it was too much fun and interesting!) and develop this work into an MSc. thesis through collaborations that I have built with Kingston’s other two tertiary institutes: St. Lawrence College and the Royal Military College.

As for my free time, I enjoy learning about medicinal plants and fungi, and painting and drawing. I do love boxing, jumping rope, hiking, and anything to do with being outside, or identifying new species (add me on iNaturalist: hmoranmac)!

Chloe Earnshaw-Osler

MSc (Dept. Civil Engineering) – Impact of fire on hydrological and metal biogeochemical cycling.

Bio

Hello, my name is Chloe! I have recently completed my undergraduate specialization in Environmental Chemistry at Queen’s University and I will start field work for my MSc degree with Dr. McLagan and Dr. Élise Devoie (Asst. Prof. Civil Engineering, Queen’s University) in April/May 2024 in a summer field work campaign before formally starting my degree in January 2025. My MSc. research will study the impacts of fire on hydrological and metal biogeochemical cycles in areas near Yellowknife (NT) affected by both the 2023 wildfires in NWT and historical metal emissions deposition from the Giant Mine in Yellowknife. This work will take a total systems approach studying these metals in water, soils, biota and air in burned and unburned watersheds.

I received a NSERC summer USRA award in 2022 summer and I worked in Iqaluit, NU, studying dissolved metal cycling in soils and ground water of the Niaqunguk (Apex) river watershed alongside MSc student Lee Nguyen (under supervision of Dr. McLagan and Dr. Melissa Lefreniere), work that collaborated with the Nunavut Research Institute (funded by Polar Knowledge Canada).

Apart from school, I love spending time outdoors, cycling, slacklining, hiking, and camping. I have also recently become a huge fan of puzzles and baking bread (thanks quarantine). I have also been part of the Queen’s Backing Action on the Climate Crisis (QBACC) exec team, worked for the AMS service, Walkhome, and I am now an executive on Queen’s Outdoor Field Experience Initiative (QOFEI).

Mollie Garcia

Undergrad (School Envion. Studies) – Developing methods for wildfire risk assessments 

Bio
Hi, my name is Mollie (They/Them) and I am an undergraduate student at Queen’s University studying environmental science and geographic information science (GIS). I am enjoying learning about the various possibilities and career paths within the field of environmental science and want to continue exploring the endless ways human actions impact the environment. I have completed the Queen’s Undergraduate Internship Program (QUIP) where I worked as a GIS Technician for the Ministry of Transportation Ontario creating maps, manipulating data, and increased my knowledge and comfortability with various softwares. I will work with the FEWA Lab on developing a holistic predictive model to assess wildfire risk using ecological, geographical, and meteorological factors.

I grew up in New York City, but always found myself more comfortable in natural spaces. I often visited natural history museums to learn more about environments around the world, and hope to eventually experience some of them in person.

Outside of work and school, I enjoy horseback riding, singing, reading, swimming, volleyball and spoiling my cat. I have also recently become interested in upcycling clothing, and am excited to experiment with other products and materials.

FEWA Lab Alumni

Madison Otsuki

Undergraduate

Bio
I am an undergraduate student studying geology. I love learning about the natural systems and how different spheres interact with and influence each other. While I am not sure of the exact area I want to end up working in, I do have a keen interest in geoenvironmental fields such as cold region geology and climate change; I often wonder how we can give back more than we take.

In my free time, I enjoy learning new recipes, listening to music, going on hikes with friends, and just spending time outdoors in general! I am also part of the Queen’s varsity swimming team and get a lot of enjoyment from both the team dynamic and the competitive aspect you get from racing.

I have been involved in research with the Peter Munk Cardiac Centre at Toronto General Hospital, where I collected data within the cardiac intensive care unit to be used in various cardiological studies such as cariogenic shock, renal replacement therapy, and clonal hematopoiesis among other things. I have not yet been involved in research within the geosciences, so I am very excited for this door to be open now through the FEWA lab.