Environmental Geochemistry at the University of Waterloo

Our research interest lies in the field of watershed biogeochemistry. Current projects focus on environmental problems including the impact of nutrients and climate change on aquatic ecosystems. These projects most often require a multi-disciplinary approach which brings to our team specialists in geochemistry, hydrology, stratigraphy, and ecology. Personal special interests include the development and use of isotopic tools (stable and radioactive) and other tracers to supplement the more traditional geochemical techniques utilized in watershed studies.

Recent publications

  • Shafii M, Basu N, Craig J, Schiff SL, and P Van Capellen. A diagnostic approach to constraining flow partitioning in hydrologic models using a multi-objective optimization framework. Submitted to Water Resources Research, 6 January 2017.
  • Schiff SL, Tsuji JM, Wu L, Venkiteswaran JJ, Molot LA, Elgood RJ, Paterson MJ, and Neufeld JD. Millions of Boreal Shield Lakes can be used to Probe Archaean Ocean Biogeochemistry. Submitted to Scientific Reports, Nature Communications November 2016.
  • Audrey Campeau, Marcus B. Wallin, Reiner Giesler, Stefan Löfgren, Carl-Magnus Mörth, Sherry Schiff, Jason J. Venkiteswaran, Kevin Bishop. Multiple sources and fates of stream dissolved inorganic carbon across spatial scales, refocusing the lens of stable isotopes. Submitted to Nature Communications December 2016.
  • Venkiteswaran JJ, Schiff SL, Paterson M, Flinn N, Shao H, Elgood R. Changing Nitrogen Deposition with Low δ ¹⁵N-NH₄⁺ and δ ¹⁵N-NO₃⁻ Values at the Experimental Lakes Area, northwestern Ontario, Canada. Submitted to FACETS, Accepted December 2016 pending revisions.
  • Mark J. Verschoor, Chistopher R. Powe, Eric McQuay, Sherry L. Schiff, Jason J. Venkiteswaran, Jiahua Li and Lewis A. Molot. Internal iron loading and warm temperatures are pre-conditions for cyanobacterial dominance in embayments along Georgian Bay, Great Lakes. Accepted 6 Jan 2017, CJFAS.
  • Robertson WD, DR Van Stempvoort, JW Roy, SJ Brown, J Spoelstra, SL Schiff, DR Rudolph, S Danielescu and G Graham. 2016. Use of an Artificial Sweetener to Identify Sources of Groundwater Nitrate Contamination. Groundwater. (online Jan. 2016, doi: 10.111/gwat.12399)
  • Robertson, W.D., Van Stempvoort, D.R., Spoelstra, J., Brown, S.J., Schiff, S.L., Degradation of Sucralose in Groundwater and Implications for Age Dating Contaminated Groundwater, Water Research (2015), doi: 10.1016/j.watres.2015.10.051.
  • Williams M, K King, M Macrae, W Ford, C van Esbroeck, R Brunke, MC English, SL Schiff. 2015. Uncertainty in nutrient loads from tile drained landscapes: Effect of sampling frequency, calculation algorithm and compositing strategies. J of Hydrology. 530 306-316.
  • Venkiteswaran JJ, Schiff SL, Taylor WD. 2015. Separating urban and agricultural impacts on aquatic metabolism along the 300 km Grand River, Canada. Freshwater Science 34(4). doi: 10.1086/683241.
  • Bocaniov SA, Schiff SL, Smith REH, (2015): Non-steady state dynamics of stable oxygen isotopes for estimates of metabolic balance in large lakes. J. Gt. Lakes Res. 41 (3)
  • José LJ Ledesma, Thomas Grabs, Kevin H Bishop, Sherry L Schiff, Stephan J. Köhler. 2015 Potential for long-term transfer of DOC from riparian zones to streams in boreal catchments. Global Change Biology 21(8) 2963-2979.
  • Snider DM, JJ Venkiteswaran, SL Schiff, J Spoelstra. 2015. From the Ground Up: Nitrous Oxide Sources are Constrained by Stable Isotope Values. PLoS ONE 10(3).



  • We are seeking 2 to 3 graduate students (MSc and/or PhD)and a Postdoctoral Fellow (PDF) to participate in a collaborative investigation with IISD-ELA, University of Waterloo, Wilfrid Laurier University and York University of iron cycling in lakes and iron regulation of competition between cyanobacteria and eukaryotic phytoplankton. This is an opportunity to engage in laboratory and field studies in support of a project at the IISD-Experimental Lakes Area (ELA) in northwestern Ontario where background information on chemistry, biology and physics of lakes has been collected over the past 47 years. Please follow link for additional information here.