Earth and Atmospheric Sciences

Grace Anne Stewart Speaker Series

Celebrating Diversity in the Earth & Atmospheric Sciences Department

Lesley Warren

Mining waste environments: globally significant and growing biogeochemical hotspots

Friday November 23, 2018, Noon, Tory 3-36

Talk abstract: Globally, extractive industries are estimated to produce 7.2 billion tons of waste and use 7-9 billion m of water; creating one of the fastest growing and least well studied biogeochemical contexts on the planet. Tailings, containing reactive sulfur, iron, nitrogen and carbon compounds, represent the largest global mining environmental liability. Currently, it is difficult for mines to design tailings impoundments or develop effective management and reclamation approaches, because the microbial processes that generate impacts remain a black box. However, as mining landscapes continue to grow world-wide, the fundamental lessons learned in these contexts are also required to better inform our understanding of global biogeochemical cycling. Here, I will present results from both metal and oil sands mining contexts, where we have begun to address this knowledge gap through the joint application of genomics and geochemistry. Research to date provides fascinating glimpses of extensive and often surprising biogeochemical cycling within these environments, as well as distinctive microbial communities that interactively shape biogeochemical outcomes.

Research interests Dr. Warren holds the Claudette MacKay-Lassonde Chair in Mineral Engineering and is the director of the Lassonde Institute of Mining. She is an applied geochemist and molecular microbiologist. Her main focus is applying emerging molecular biological techniques to mining contexts to explore the roles of bacteria in affecting water quality. This research  information produced develops new tools to enhance environmentally sound practices in the mining industry.

About the Speaker Series

The Grace Anne Stewart Speaker Series connects students and faculty of the Earth and Atmospheric Science (EAS) department to a greater diversity of female scientists by inviting two female scientists to visit the department each year. The program is designed to expand the professional networks of faculty and students, foster discussion about gender equity, and provide students with more female role models/mentors.

Grace Anne Stewart Speakers are invited to participate in several events during a 1-2 day visit:

  • A one-hour research talk presented as part of the ATLAS talk series. These talks are coordinated by the EAS department’s graduate student society and are attended by department students (graduate and some undergraduate), post-doctoral researchers, and faculty members.
  • A ‘Behind the Scenes’ informal question and answer session where graduate students can learn more about the speaker’s career path.
  • A wine and cheese social event with department faculty and graduate students.
  • Additional small group or one-on-one meetings with faculty or students with shared interests. These might include lab tours or class visits.

For more information or to express your interest in the Grace Anne Stewart Speaker Series please contact:



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