Biography

Current Position:

 

Postdoctoral Researcher, Department of Natural Resource Sciences, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Postdoctoral Award - Fonds de recherche du Québec Nature et technologies.

Supervisor: Dr. Murray Humphries, Director of CINE Centre for Indigenous Peoples' Nutrition and Environment, Project: WECLIFS, Wildlife, Environmental Change, and Local Indigenous Food Systems. 

My research focuses on changing ecology, biogeochemistry, and metal cycling within aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems in the rapidly changing North. This research is important because the fate of contaminants will be affected by climate change with implications for human and ecosystem health. 

  • aquatic ecology

  • ecotoxicology

  • trace metals

  • zooplankton

  • limnology

  • mercury

  • arctic

Contact me for any inquires about giving a lecture, organizing an event, or collaborating on a research or education and outreach project via gwyneth.macmillan@mail.mcgill.ca 

Current Projects

Community-Based Environmental Monitoring

Awareness of the importance of collaborative approaches to research with Indigenous communities is growing in Canada. Moreover, in the face of rapid climate change, researchers are being increasingly asked to conduct adaptive research that supports local priorities. Community-based environmental monitoring focuses on engaging community members in long-term monitoring and generating community-oriented data for management decisions. I am interested in using quantitative and qualitative data to examine the opportunities and challenges of community-collaborative research in the natural sciences. 

Ecological Stoichiometry and Mercury

Ecological stoichiometry is a framework which examines how organisms influence the balance of energy and chemical elements in their environment, focused on biologically important macronutrients (carbon, phosphorus and nitrogen). Laboratory studies have shown a strong interaction between nutrient stoichiometry and mercury accumulation, but the relationship between these two variables has not been adequately tested in situ in natural lakes. I use organisms at the base of the food web, specifically seston and zooplankton, to study mercury uptake into the food web and the influence of nutrient stoichiometry. 

Rare Earth Elements in the Canadian Arctic

Rare earth elements (REEs) are contaminants of emerging concern and are increasingly exploited around the globe for use in the high-tech sector. Knowledge of the fate of REEs and their impact on natural ecosystems is needed as emissions to the environment increase. However, field-based studies on REE bioaccumulation and food web transfer are rare, especially in remote northern ecosystems which are vulnerable to REE enrichment from mining. To better understand REE bioaccumulation, I study species- and tissue-specific REE patterns in marine, freshwater, and terrestrial ecosystems, focusing on wildlife of importance to Northerners. 

Permafrost Thaw Ponds and Mercury

Permafrost degradation under a warming climate has led to the widespread formation of thermokarst lakes and ponds across circumpolar regions. Small thaw ponds are one of the most abundant aquatic ecosystems at circumpolar latitudes. They are microbially-active and conducive to the methylation of inorganic mercury, yet only a few studies have looked at the mercury cycle at these sites. I study links between the inputs of nutrients and organic carbon and the transport and production of mercury at these sites. These small but widespread aquatic ecosystems may play an important role in controlling the local and regional fluxes of mercury in a warming Arctic. 

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