Gold Mining, Soil and Aquatic Health: From Trent to Guyana
Trent grad student aims to address land and aquatic sustainability in Guyana
For Chetwynd Osborne, his time at Trent University will be all about connections – the connection between the gold mining industry and aquatic health, the connections he forms with his research supervisors, and the connections he builds with students as a graduate teaching assistant at Trent, and lecturer once he returns to his home country, Guyana.
Chetwynd, who is completing his Ph.D. in Trent’s Environmental & Life Sciences graduate program, is part of the first cohort of graduate students in the Sustainable Guyana program, a partnership between Trent, the University of Guyana, CGX Energy Inc., and Frontera Energy Corporation. Through the program, 12 current lecturers at the University of Guyana will enter graduate programs at Trent focusing on research areas relating to sustainable development.
Water connects us all
Water quality and sustainability have been a central theme in Chetwynd’s studies and career. His previous master’s research focused on the resiliency of mangroves and how that affects fish populations along the barrier reef in Belize. Now, he is building on that research with a focus on the impact of gold mining on the water quality of riverine systems across watersheds of South-Central Guyana.
“I will be looking at these aquatic systems by investigating the impact of activities taking place more inland and further upstream, and how such activities affect aquatic life, human health, and so many other things,” said Chetwynd. “You see, it is all connected, ultimately water connects us all.”
Chetwynd’s research will specifically focus on the impact of mercury, which is widely used in the gold mining industry in Guyana. Chetwynd will travel back to Guyana to conduct some of his fieldwork on site, looking at the levels of mercury and other metals in vegetation, sediment, and soil. While many of his water samples will be tested in Guyana, he will also be bringing some soil and sediment samples back for testing at Trent’s leading-edge Water Quality Centre.
He hopes his research helps to inform policymaking around the gold mining industry in Guyana and play a role in the achievement of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
Forming connections at Trent
Chetwynd has already built many valuable relationships in his short time at Trent so far. While conducting his research under the supervision of Dr. Shaun Watmough, Dr. Catherine Eimers, and Dr. Holger Hintlemann, he is also working as a graduate teaching assistant.
“The graduate teaching assistant experience has really been a way to interact with students and get their perspectives on the different topics we cover and seeing my guidance manifest in their work,” Chetwynd adds.
As a graduate student, Chetwynd is also affiliated with Trent’s Traill College and says that this uniquely Trent tradition has been a great way to further build his network and become a part of the Trent community.
“We receive a lot of important updates through the College on events taking place at Trent and the supports available through the college,” he says. “This has been really helpful in navigating Trent and Peterborough.”
Connecting Trent and Guyana
Upon completion of his studies at Trent, Chetwynd will return to the University of Guyana and looks forward to building on the relationships he formed at Trent.
“Ultimately, I'm hoping to expand my network even further and to build on my connection with my supervisors and all the friends that were made through the Trent community to build a cross-country network of researchers between Trent and researchers in Guyana,” said Chetwynd. “I also hope that my research and teaching experiences can be integrated into my own work when I get back to Guyana so I can assist others and transfer the knowledge, training, and experience I’ve gained and really do my part in the sustainable development of Guyana.”