Kate Smith 

PhD student
University of British Columbia

I have a Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry from Michigan Technological University (2008) and a Master of Science in geochemistry from the University of Wisconsin-Madison (2010). For my M.Sc., I explored the magma evolution leading up to the devastating 1902 eruption of the Santa Maria volcano in Guatemala (via Ar, U-Th, Pb, Sr, Nd isotopes). I then worked for the State of WI as an analytical chemist for nearly seven years: first in a chemistry/toxicology laboratory for veterinary diagnostics (analysis of heavy metals, pesticides, PCBs, etc.), and then as the primary analyst charged with running and maintaining a Thermo Neptune Plus MC-ICP-MS at the WI State Laboratory of Hygiene. The primary focus for this instrument was to explore new applications for non-traditional isotope systems that bridge the fields of environmental source tracking and public health.

I am always seeking new analytical challenges and I want to learn how to effectively and reliably secure research funding. To achieve those goals, I joined Dr. Dominique Weis’ group at the PCIGR in Fall 2017 at UBC as an International Doctoral Fellow. Under her supervision, I am exploring the impacts of environmental pollution using honey as a bioindicator. Trace element and isotopic fingerprints of honey samples (and other bee products) from the greater Vancouver area serve as a proxy for chemical snapshots of ~2 km-diameter regions (the range of a typical honey bee). Thus, we can assess small-scale variations in trace elements, and their isotopes, of particular interest to pollution processes.