Pacific Centre for Isotopic and Geochemical Research
Department of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences,
The University of British Columbia

Dominique Weis Awarded 3rd Term as Canada Research Chair

PCIGR Director Dominique Weis was recently appointed to a 3rd term as Canada Research Chair (Tier I) in the Geochemistry of the Earth’s Mantle at the University of British Columbia.

The reviews of her second renewal application were outstanding:

“Dominique Weis has throughout her career expanded her research capabilities and activities by increasing the breadth of her skills and interests in a variety of ways to an extent in which she has few rivals.”


“Dr. Weis is without doubt one of the world’s best isotope analysts and she is a world leader in isotope geochemistry.”

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Dominique has held this prestigious position since 2002, when she moved to Canada from Belgium.  During the past 14 years, her research has helped shape our understanding of the world’s large igneous provinces, mantle plumes, and volcanic arcs.  Over the next 7 years, Dominique will continue her innovative applications of isotopic and tracer geochemistry to quantify and constrain the geochemical evolution of our planet, from the deep mantle to the environment.

Congratulations Dominique!

Dominique Weis elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada

Dominique’s election to the RSC’s Academy of Science honours her research on the chemistry and isotopic signature of Earth’s mantle that has shaped our understanding of the world’s large igneous provinces, mantle plumes, and volcanic arcs. Her work has revealed connections between terrestrial magmatism and mantle processes across many depths and scales. Dominique’s often interdisciplinary work has also pioneered the use of isotopes to trace the origin and fate of metals in the environment.

Dominique and 88 other Fellows were inducted on Friday, November 18, 2016 at the Isabel Bader Centre in Kingston, Ontario.


Timothy R. Parsons Medal 2016 – Roger Francois

francois2Roger Francois has been awarded the 2016 Timothy R. Parsons Medal given to a scientist for distinguished accomplishments in multidisciplinary facets of ocean sciences either during their lifetime or for a recent outstanding achievement, while working for Canadian institutions for the benefit of Canadian science.

Spring Research Internships at PCIGR

PCIGR recently partnered with STEM Fellowship, a federal non-profit organization that connects and empowers young innovators in the sciences.  The Spring Research Internship Program is designed to facilitate passion for multidisciplinary scientific inquiry and help high school students interested in research develop the necessary skills to realize this goal. In this inaugural year, competition was strong, with over 45 motivated and enthusiastic students vying for a spot in the program.

PCIGR hosted 6 high school interns over two weeks during Spring Break (March 14-24, 2016).  The grade 11 and 12 students came from Gladstone, Lord Byng and Sir Winston Churchill secondary schools in Vancouver.  The interns were mentored by PCIGR graduate students and MAGNET trainees Catherine Armstrong, Rhy McMillan and Nichole Moerhuis.

20160831-STEM5-PCIGRIn Catherine’s project on Hawaiian volcanism, the students looked at basaltic rocks and thin sections under the microscope to identify minerals, textures and alteration.  They also analyzed whole-rock major element data, leached rock powders in the clean lab, and prepared samples for XRD.  At the end of the week, the interns presented their research on a “big picture” question about ocean island basalts.

20160831-STEM7-PCIGRRhy introduced his interns to archaeology and paleoanthropology though a study on the geochemistry of bones from Scladina Cave, Belgium.  After cutting the bones, the students set to work making, sanding and photographing pucks.  They spent the last day on the microscopes looking at bone histology as well as reducing and analyzing laser ablation trace element data.

20160831-STEM1-PCIGRDuring Nichole’s week, the students determined the age of a granophyric sill that cross-cuts the Skaergaard Intrusion, East Greenland.  They experienced every stage of processing and analysis required to turn a hand sample into a concentrated mineral separate, and then establish the crystallization age.  This included mechanical and magnetic separation, zircon picking and puck preparation, SEM and LA-ICP-MS analysis, and finally data reduction.

PCIGR was pleased to participate in this program and support the training and mentorship of young scientists in geochemistry, which is an important part of our philosophy.  Both the mentors and interns learned and benefited significantly from this experience.  We look forward to seeing this initiative develop and grow over the coming years!

PCIGR student awarded AGU Outstanding Student Paper Award

Slide2PhD student Lauren Harrison recently received an Outstanding Student Paper Award for her talk on “The Hawaiian mantle plume from toe to head along the Northwest Hawaiian Ridge” presented at the 2015 AGU Fall Meeting in San Francisco.

The Outstanding Student Paper Awards (OSPAs) are awarded to promote, recognize and reward undergraduate, Master’s and PhD students for quality research in the geophysical sciences. Each year, sections and focus groups recruit judges to assess and score student oral and poster presentations at meetings. Typically the top 3-5% of presenters in each section/focus group are awarded an OSPA.

Congratulations Lauren!