My name is Mandy Meriano and I’ve been a lecturer in the Department of Physical and Environmental Sciences at UTSC since November 2010. I received my BSc in Environmental Science from UTSC in 1997 and went on to do my MSc and PhD in hydrogeology (study of groundwater) at U of T’s Department of Geology.
Following my MSc, I worked as a hydrogeologist for an environmental engineering consulting company in Mississauga, Ont., called Golder Associates. There, I investigated and assessed sites in and around Toronto for signs of soil and groundwater contamination and assisted with site remediation.
I returned to U of T in 2001 to begin my PhD studies under the co-supervision of Professors Eyles and Howard. My research focused on the nature of groundwater flow and impacts of urban development on water quality and quantity in the Frenchman’s Bay watershed in Pickering, Ont. I investigated how groundwater flows and mixes with surface water using a combination of techniques including three-dimensional numerical modeling, analytical modeling and geochemical modeling using elemental geochemistry and isotopic signatures of oxygen and hydrogen. We learned that contrary to common belief, the urban watershed constitutes an active urban aquifer system that stores and transmits contaminants. In particular, we found that more than half all the road salt applied to the catchment is transmitted and stored in the shallow groundwater system causing significant and year-round pollution of surface waters.
Following the completion of my PhD studies, I moved to New Zealand and worked as a research scientist with the National Institute of Water & Atmospheric Research (NIWA) in the city of Christchurch. This was a tremendous international experience working with a diverse group of professionals drawn from all over the world. As the only NIWA hydrogeologist in Christchurch, I had the opportunity to establish the groundwater research program from the ground up. Since fieldwork has always been an important part of my research (invaluable new data!), I incorporated a strong field component into most of our research and the program. I also had the opportunity to work closely with various government agencies and Maori groups (indigenous people of New Zealand).
Now it’s great to be back at UTSC, giving back to the program that started out my career path.