Nicole has a strong scientific background, and is always looking for ways to apply her analytical background to her work. Currently, she is increasingly interested in the fields of data science and urban planning.
As a student, her work centred around using stable isotopes to learn about the natural world. Stable isotope techniques are a great way to tease out information from a complicated system. Her Master’s thesis work investigated the application of hydrogen and (to a lesser extent) oxygen stable isotopes to the study of natural organic matter cycling. This work had two major focusses. The first: assessing the variability of the hydrogen isotope compositions of major plant biochemicals. The second: determining whether the isotopic signatures imparted during the biosynthesis of plant matter were retained after degradation, transport, and exposure to water masses with different isotopic and chemical compositions, so that they may be used to determine something about the sources and proccessing of organic matter that may occur in estuaries. She was fortunate enough to be invited to do her hydrogen isotope analysis at Marilyn Fogel’s laboratory at the Geophysical Lab (now part of the Earth and Planets Laboratory), of the Carnegie Institution for Science.
As an undergraduate, she was a research assistant in Prof. Ulrich Wortmann’s Geobiology Isotope Laboratory at the University of Toronto. There here focus was on understanding changes in ocean chemistry that occurred during the Cretaceous period (specifically th.e Aptian), as evidenced by perturbations in carbon and sulphur stable isotope signatures that are recorded globally. She analyzed sediment cores taken during Leg 123 of the Ocean Drilling Progam for carbon, sulphur and oxygen stable isotopic composition to produce high resolution records, and also explored the effects of changes in oceanic phosphate concentration on the oceanic carbon and sulphur cycles during this time period. As part of this work she learned how to extract barite from Dr. Adina Paytan at the Paytan Biogeochemisty Lab, University of California at Santa Cruz.
Nicole also took part in other research programs as an undergraduate. She worked with a team to perform ground penetrating radar (GPR) and seismic refraction surveys of a rock glacier, and magnetometry and GPR surveys at two potential archaeological sites in Maine; used COBWEB, a multi-agent simulation software, to assess how altering landscapes affects population dyanmics and identify predictors for determining minimum viable population; and performed observations, digitized archival data and worked on calculating orbital parameters for Cygnus X-1, and a number of binary star systems at the David Dunlap Observatory in Richmond Hill, ON.