Julia Baak, an Acadia MSc Biology graduate (’21), is the recipient of the highly prestigious Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship in support of her PhD research at McGill University. Julia also 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 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 II Canada Research Chair at McGill.
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 wildlife (specifically seabirds). She also used bird samples provided by Inuit (Indigenous) hunters to produce the first temporal assessment of change in plastic pollution ingestion in Arctic seabirds. During her time at Acadia, Julia co-authored 7 peer-reviewed papers and has several more in review or preparation (an amazing feat!).
For her PhD, 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.