About CSci

  • Dr. Mark Gibson
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Dr. Mark Gibson
Featured Profile: 
At A Glance
Licensed Body: 
First Degree: 
Environmental Studies
Senior Research Scientist
Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
Works For: 
Atlantic RURAL Centre, Dalhousie University
Pet Hates: 
Climate Change nae-sayers
Burning Ambition: 
Director of an Environmental Health Research Centre
To be able to fly
Big Picture
When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? 
Who or what inspired you to become a scientist? 
Grandfather who told me stories of the industrial pollution that impacted the air and water quality around industrial South Yorkshire back in the 1950’s. Also my A-level chemistry teacher, Dr. Philip Brown, who was an excellent teacher and fired my imagination for chemistry and Science
What do you love about your job and being a “scientist”? 
Always seeing something new. Observing the emission, fate and transport of toxic chemicals in the environment, how they impact the environment, public health and how to control their release and mitigate for their effects
What would you change? 
What qualifications did you take at school? 
A-level Chemistry, Design & Technology & History
Why did you choose your first degree subject? 
BA in Environmental Studies. I wanted to learn about the environment, environmental issues and how to control and remediate the effects of pollution on the environment and public health
Do you have a Masters or PhD? If not, was it difficult to demonstrate Masters-level equivalence in order to achieve CSci? 
I have an MSc in Instrumental Process Analytical Chemistry and a PhD in Environmental Health that focused on determining the various source contributions (man made and natural) to the total concentration of atmospheric respirable particles in Glasgow, UK (2003)
How do you describe your job when you meet people at a party? 
Environmental Health Chemist
What is ‘cutting-edge’ about your work? 
I’m using the latest state-of the-art liquid chromatography, gas chromatography and inductively coupled plasma analytical instruments coupled to mass spectrometer detectors, aerosol mass spectrometers, and collaborating with researchers making measurements of air pollution from space and from ground based lasers (lidar)
What are the biggest implications your work will/could have in the future? 
Providing new data that will help the Canadian Government make informed decisions in their review of the current Canadian residential indoor air quality guidelines. My research informs Government policy on many different levels. I am a member of the Nova Scotia Provincial Government Steering committee on the new Canadian Air Quality Health Index which involves public out reach and education. I feel this is a very worthwhile and satisfying role where I help to inform and educate the public on how to better protect their health from indoor and outdoor air pollution. Other aspects of my research include accurately assessing the contribution of forest fires in North America to the total aerosol in the air as it moves across Nova Scotia. Other aspects of my research could help to discover new chemical markers for air pollution source fingerprinting using new advanced liquid chromatography mass spectrometry techniques
Describe some of the highlights of your average day. 
Taking to my students, staff and fellow collaborators about our research activity. Reading about a new advance in our field of science
Describe briefly how your career has progressed to date. 
I made slow steady progress in my last place of work (University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, UK) finally gaining an academic position in 2003. I then left for Canada to accompanying my fiancée and to make a new start. Since arriving without a job in January 2006 I have carved out a niche with the Atlantic RURAL Centre based at Dalhousie University. My research collaborators include Health Canada, Environment Canada, Nova Scotia Environment and many NGO’s and stake holders. I am soon be a Lecturer in Environmental Health Chemistry in the Department of Community Health and Epidemiology in the Medical Faculty at Dalhousie. This position was created for me. This was a result of me being instrumental in bringing $4.23M to the University. Since arriving in Canada in January 2006 I have secured over $5M in research funding from Health Canada, Environment Canada and the Canadian Foundation for Innovation (CFI). I have created 13 new jobs and helped to create the first Environmental health Laboratory in Atlantic Canada, which I also manage. I have industrial partnerships with ThermoFisher Scientific and Perkin-Elmer instruments
How is your job cross-disciplinary? 
Atmospheric Science group in the Physics Department, the Department of Chemistry and the Civil Engineering Department at Dalhousie. I also work with social scientists investigating the social consequences of exposure to environmental pollution on communities and while in the work place. My research is truly cross-disciplinary!
How well is your job compensated? What is the starting salary for your field, and how much can this be expected to rise? 
Starting salary is somewhere in the region of £27,000. It is reasonably well paid with potential to earn extra through research contracts and consultancy. This can rise to £50,000 in more senior lecturing positions or far greater in Government positions. Senior Evaluator positions in Environmental Health type roles in Canadian Government are ~ £80,000 equivalent
How do you see your field developing over the next 5-10 years? 
It’s a booming field
What’s the most unexpected thing about your job? 
Equipment failure and the weather preventing us from conducting field work. Canada has some pretty impressive snow storms!
What’s the biggest achievement of your career so far? 
Securing the $4.23M CFI research grant
Would you say you have a good standard of living/ work-life balance? 
It’s too much work orientated at the moment, but the rewards are worth it
What do your friends and family think about your job? 
They think it’s fantastic. Some of my friends have joined our research team
What kind of hobbies or extracurricular activities do you do to relax? 
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Mixed Martial Arts, Heavy Metal Guitar, Reading, Gardening
Why did you choose to apply for CSci and what do you value most about being a Chartered Scientist? 
To give me more of standing in the profession. Continuing Professional Development. To be mentored and to be a mentor one day
What is the value of professional bodies? 
It is very important. It’s a seal of approval from ones peers that you are professional in your field. Gives confidence to clients, collaborators and the public that you are a genuine professional. Legal reasons, e.g. being able to sign off on reports containing Chemical analysis results created in your lab. Provide credentials that will stand up in a court of law
How important is CPD? What do you think of the revalidation process in ensuring that CSci is a mark of current competence? 
CPD is key to ones development. Prevents one from becoming stale and forces one to keep abreast of new developments in the profession as well as a vehicle for self reflection
Advice & Reflection
What words of wisdom would you give someone interested in getting into your field? 
Just do it! Be polite (especially in Canada!). Network, network, network! Value your collaborators. Listen to your students, they can teach you something
How important is the mentoring process in your field and to you personally? 
Extremely important. I have one in the UK (Dr. Mat Heal, Edinburgh University and two in Canada, Dr. Jeffrey Brook, Head of Air Quality Research, Environment Canada and Dr. Amanda Wheeler (another ex-pat), Senior Evaluator with Health Canada. Having these excellent people to bounce ideas off and seek advice has been key to my success. The can also provide research ideas
How would you define “professionalism”? 
Integrity, hard working, thorough, thoughtful and caring of ones collaborators, colleagues, staff and friends. Always checking quality assurance and quality control
What would you do differently if you were starting out in your career now? 
What would you like people to remember about your life as a scientist? 
Loved his work and was fun to work with
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