Julia Baak, Acadia MSc Biology graduate (’21), is a recipient of the highly prestigious Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship in support of her PhD research at McGill University. These federal scholarships support doctoral students and recognize them as part of Canada's next generation of research leaders.
During her time at Acadia, Julia won both the Acadia Outstanding Master’s Research Award (Science) for research excellence and the Governor General’s Gold Medal, which is awarded to the graduate student who has achieved the most outstanding academic record as a Master’s student completing a thesis. Julia’s MSc research, co-supervised by Dr. Mark Mallory and Dr. Jennifer Provencher (former post-doctoral researcher at Acadia) examined circumpolar policies related to marine plastic pollution and seabirds. She also used bird samples provided by Inuit hunters to produce the first temporal assessment of change in plastic pollution ingestion in Arctic seabirds. While at Acadia, Julia co-authored an impressive 7 peer-reviewed, published manuscripts, with several more in review or preparation.
Julia’s PhD studies will be co-supervised by Dr. Mark Mallory, a Tier 1 Canada Research Chair here at Acadia, and Dr. Kyle Elliott, a Tier 2 Canada Research Chair at McGill. Julia is continuing in the same field of environmental research, this time using high-precision tracking technology to examine local and annual movements of Arctic seabirds and their feeding areas. She will quantify biotransport of plastics and plastic-related contaminants, including plastic-derived chemicals in the blood of seabirds. As with her MSc, the work will involve collaboration from several countries in the Arctic.
Julia’s world-class research and achievements are a highlight of the ongoing research collaboration between Dr. Provencher’s lab at Environment and Climate Change Canada and Dr. Mallory’s lab in Biology at Acadia University. This collaboration is focused on the prevalence and effects of plastic pollution and other contaminants in the Canadian environment.