Ashley Davidson

PhD student
University of British Columbia

In 2014, I graduated with a B.Sc. Honours Combined Degree from the University of Victoria in Chemistry and Earth & Ocean Sciences. I worked under the supervision of Dr. Jay T. Cullen during my undergraduate thesis where I studied the concentrations of trace Fe in open ocean and controls on its distribution. This allowed me to blend my interests in analytical and inorganic chemistry as well as consider the Earth system as a whole to understand the controls on dissolved Fe distribution.

Keeping with these core interests, my PhD at the University of British Columbia under the co-supervision of Dr. Roger Francois and Dr. Sean Crowe will focus on the development of Cr isotopes. Cr isotopes can be used to monitor groundwater contamination and potentially as a paleo-proxy indicating past marine redox conditions and the presence of atmospheric oxygenation throughout Earth’s history. In order to make full use of the potential power of Cr isotopes, much work must be done to fully understand the Cr cycle and the processes controlling this redox sensitive element. This will be accomplished by acquiring extensive speciation and isotopic data from rivers and seawater to determine how Cr is affected by weathering, transport and eventual deposition in marine sediment. This will provide us with insights regarding the importance of different processes affecting the oxidative state of Cr and the magnitude of isotopic fractionation. With the help of the MAGNET program at UBC, access to highly precise mass spectrometers will provide us with the high quality data needed to characterize this non-traditional stable isotope.

The MAGNET program has been a huge contributor to the overall breadth of my graduate program – the annual workshops brought together a very diverse group of students emphasizing the widespread application of advance geochemical analysis. The workshops themselves provided excellent professional, teaching and field training applicable across a variety of fields. Weekly seminar series provided by industry specialists introduced lesser-known fields requiring geochemists, and provided information on different career paths. Industry-paired internships were extremely advantageous, providing on the job training and an opportunity to gain experience in fields like environmental consulting. I am very grateful to the MAGNET program for providing me with these experiences and for connecting me with such a great group of people!