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2014 Award Winners – Yamini Popalapillai
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2014 SETAC/ICA Chris Lee Award Winner

SETAC and The International Copper Association (ICA) are pleased to award the ICA Chris Lee Award for Metals Research to Yamini Gopalapillai, a recent Ph.D. graduate from the University of Guelph. Her research has explored metal bioavailability in freshwater organisms, and her work experiences have exposed her to the industry and government perspectives crucial to understanding what is required to provide practical solutions for current environmental issues.

Yamini is currently a postdoctorate fellow at the University of Guelph, where she works towards developing a framework for predicting actual dose of metal mixtures to plants based on geochemical equilibrium models. Her aim is to ultimately determine correction factors for water quality guidelines, which do not currently reflect protections for multiple contaminants or multiple forms of co-occuring contaminants. Her hope is that mixtures data will provide the appropriate foundation for informed regulatory decisions, better guide cleanup efforts, and minimize contamination on future projects, both in Canada and more broadly.

Interest in metals contamination sparked early in Yamini’s educational career, and she began her research after becoming intrigued by the applicability of metal speciation and bioavailability to real-life problems such as mining-related contamination of the environment. Her work experience at Natural Resources Canada and the Sustainability Group at Vale complemented her research pursuits at Carleton University and the University of Guelph, and provided the experience needed to round out tripartite exposure to approaches to risk assessment and management. Yamini’s research was funded through the prestigious NSERC Alexander Graham Bell Canada Graduate Scholarship, and has resulted in several scientific papers – one of which won the Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry Best Student Paper Award in 2013!

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