Jill McDermott

Postdoctoral Fellow
University of Torontoa

I am a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Toronto, working with Professor Barbara Sherwood Lollar and Professor Bridget Bergquist. After earning my B.A. in Chemistry from Dartmouth College in 2006 and my M.S. in Earth Science from the University of New Hampshire in 2009, I completed a Ph.D. in the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution-Massachusetts Institute of Technology Joint Program in Oceanography in 2015. My thesis examined the controls on organic, inorganic, and volatile chemistry of submarine hydrothermal fluids venting at Von Damm and Piccard, two recently discovered vent fields at the Mid-Cayman Rise, Earth’s deepest mid-ocean ridge.

I apply molecular-level chemical and isotopic tools to understand the spatial, temporal, and mechanistic nature of carbon and sulfur transformations within natural waters in the Earth’s crust. Building upon my approaches to discerning abiotic organic synthesis from thermogenic processes in fluids venting from submarine hydrothermal vents, I am joining the MAGNET program to lead field investigations to mines in the Canadian Shield, with the goal to determine the habitability and sources of organic compounds within ancient fracture waters. My research will also benefit from an industrial partnership with the Nuclear Waste Management Organization of Canada (NWMO) and the National Cooperative for the Disposal of Radioactive Waste (NAGRA), which is conducting timeseries experiments examining corrosion rates at the Grimsel Test Site in the Swiss Alps. I lead sampling programs to evaluate potential microbial influences on test repository materials, integrating my geochemical knowledge with novel drilling and microbiological sampling techniques.