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Gregory F. Slater

Gregory F. Slater

Canada Research Chair in Environmental Isotope Biogeochemistry

Tier 2 - 2004-03-01 Renewed: 2009-03-01


Biography:

COMING TO CANADA FROM

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, USA 

RESEARCH INVOLVES

Understanding the transport, distribution, and fate organic contaminants in the environment and the extent to which microbial communities degrade these compounds. 

RESEARCH RELEVANCE

The research aims to assess the extent of human environmental contamination, identify the most significant sources of contaminants in the environment, and optimize the potential role of microbial communities in cleaning up. 

WHERE HAVE ALL THE CONTAMINANTS GONE? INVESTIGATING THE TRANSPORT AND DEGRADATION OF ORGANIC CONTAMINANTS IN THE ENVIRONMENT.

Notwithstanding stricter environmental regulations in Canada, organic contaminants continue to be released into our environment from both point sources (e.g., spills) and non-point sources (i.e., urban runoff, atmospheric deposition). These contaminants are primarily removed from the environment via degradation by microbial communities.

Dr. Greg Slater has developed new compound specific isotopic analysis techniques to study the fate and transport of organic contaminants in the environment and to analyze the microbial processes that control their fate. As the Canada Research Chair in Environmental Isotope Biogeochemistry, Dr. Slater devotes part of his time to research into the transport and current trends of contaminant deposition in southern Ontario lakes. His research differentiates contamination due to industrial activities from that caused by natural processes, such as forest fires. His research also involves assessing whether the recent trends of increased deposition observed in northeastern United States are also occurring in southern Ontario, and thus it will provide essential information for future policy makers.

Dr. Slater is applying the same research techniques to his investigation of the sources of contaminants in remote, pristine environments, such as the Arctic, in order to determine whether the compounds observed in these environments are due to long-range transport of contaminants or local natural processes.

In addition, Dr. Slater is studying the microbial processes that control the fate of organic contaminants in the environment. The more we know about the metabolic processes of contaminant-degrading organisms, the more we can make the most of environmental remediation. Furthermore, a greater understanding of microbial communities in extreme environments, such as earth's deep subsurface, will offer insights into unique metabolic pathways. Such insights may provide a fundamental understanding of the signature of early life on Earth, and possibly on other planets.