David Blowes named as Fellow of the Royal Society

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

David BlowesThe Royal Society of Canada named Earth and Environmental Sciences Professor David Blowes last Wednesday as one of 89 new Fellows from across Canada, including two other professors from Waterloo.

Blowes was nominated to the Society for his international leadership in the field of environmental geochemistry by Distinguished Professor Emeritus Bob Gillham, a Fellow of the Royal Society since 1997. Election to the academies of the Royal Society of Canada is the highest honour a scholar can achieve in the Arts, Humanities and Sciences.

"We are delighted to see David Blowes and his contributions to environmental science being honoured in this way," says Bob Lemieux, Dean of the Faculty of Science. “He has increased not only our fundamental understanding in his field, but how this knowledge can be applied to solving real world problems in creative and innovative ways.”

Through sophisticated laboratory, field and modelling studies, David Blowes has made groundbreaking contributions to our understanding of the release of contaminants from mine wastes, including mine tailings and waste rock. He has also made important contributions to the development of management practices for mine wastes and to the development of novel groundwater remediation technologies.

“David is recognized world-wide as an innovator and leader in the area of environmental geochemistry, both from the theoretical point of view and through tremendous practical applications," says David Rudolph, professor and chair of the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences. "This is a phenomenal achievement that appropriately reflects Dave’s amazing scientific contributions, which are continuing to expand in scope and global reach.”

Early in his career, Prof. Blowes was part of the team that developed Permeable Reactive Barriers, a novel method of cleaning contaminated groundwater in place, avoiding the enormous cost and time involved in the conventional pumping and treating groundwater. He and his students also developed a series of highly sophisticated multicomponent reactive transport models.

In 2015, he received an NSERC Synergy Innovation Award for his work in collaboration with the Diavik Diamond Mine and Carleton University for developing a sustainable method to mitigate acid mine drainage while protecting a pristine watershed in the highly sensitive permafrost environment of the Northwest Territories.

It was Blowes’ second Synergy award. He first won the award with Earth and Environmental Science professors Emil Frind and Carol Ptacek back in 1999 for their partnership with the Ontario-based natural resources company Falconbridge Ltd.

He is currently Scientific Director for TERRE-CREATE, Canada’s first nationally funded program designed to train the next generation of sustainable mining professionals. Last year he expanded the program to include TERRE-NET, an NSERC strategic partnership of experts who will develop sustainable strategies for dealing with hazardous mine wastes.

Professor Blowes holds a Canada Research Chair in Groundwater Remediation and is a member of the Water Institute.

This year's new Fellows, which include Waterloo’s Geoffrey Fong from the Department of Psychology and Weihua Zhuang from the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, will be inducted to the academies of the RSC during the Induction and Awards Ceremony on Friday, November 24, 2015 in Winnipeg.

Founded in 1882, the Royal Society of Canada (RSC) comprises the Academies of Arts, Humanities and Sciences of Canada. Its mission is to recognize scholarly, research and artistic excellence, to advise governments and organizations, and to promote a culture of knowledge and innovation in Canada and with other national academies around the world.

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