Co-op Q&A: Meaghan Dinney

Meaghan looking for exposures along the Nechako River

Where did you work?

Ministry of Forests, Lands, and Natural Resource Operations in Prince George

What was your role (what type of work did you do)? What were some of your responsibilities?

My official title was soils research assistant, but I was mainly working on a project aimed at defining the boundaries of glacial lake fraser and understanding its drainage. We did a lot of field work, looking at sedimentology in order to classify landform type at a given location. In the field, I did a lot of grain size analysis and identification of sedimentary structures. We had Lidar coverage of a portion of the area, so using that I could digitize beach ridges that were formed by glacial lake fraser. This was facilitated using two programs I had not been familiar with before – Global Mapper and Summit Evolution. Using these programs in combination, we could see the area in stereo and digitize small-scale ridges.

I worked on a few other projects. I got to visit a long term soil productivity site and learn about the different treatments that had been applied (though our work was mainly brushing out unwanted plants). I also spent a lot of time helping write, edit, and create figures for a book chapter that my supervisor had been working on.

How did the skills/knowledge developed in the classroom apply to your job? What did you learn?

In terms of practical skills, a lot of the things I had learned in EASC 201 (stratigraphy and sedimentation) and GEOG 317 and 417 (soil science) became quite useful for identifying structure and for hand texturing sediments. I also used a lot of information that I had learned in geomorphology classes to form an understanding of the environments we were working in. Further, I was able to apply strategies learned in GIS courses to this project, although we were using different software.

What was your most memorable Co-op experience?

I got to go on this ATV trip along the MacGregor River, through the Rocky Mountains, because a bridge was out and we couldn’t take the truck. We saw some neat sediments and I got to take home a souvenir (shale with little cubes of pyrite!)

What have you learned through your Co-op experience?

I learned a lot from my direct supervisor related to paleoglaciology and sedimentology. It was really interesting listening to him describe his project and its implications. It was also great to work with him in the field and discuss sediments and soils.

What advice do you have for future Co-op students?

I think it is important to recognize that while you are mainly there to work, there is also opportunity to learn about or even try out other jobs. In all my co-op work terms and at my request, my supervisors have totally facilitated me working briefly with other scientists or in different departments. This semester, I was working in a research department along with many scientists studying a range of topics, from geomorphology to hydrology to etymology, so it was a great time to explore some of the other career paths.