Since her early career, Barbara Sherwood Lollar has spearheaded the development and application of sophisticated measurement tools used in chemical analysis of minute isotope concentrations for investigating the remediation of contaminated groundwater sites. Her work tracing halogenated organic contaminants has had a significant impact on organic environmental geochemistry and environmental remediation practices worldwide.
Her discovery of the existence of billion-year-old groundwater deep within the Canadian Precambrian Shield was hailed as one of the most important scientific discoveries of 2013. This work, and her observations of the Earth’s deep subsurface biosphere, continue to elucidate large-scale geologic processes relevant to geomicrobiology, planetary science, and astrobiology – themes prominent in her new role as Co-Director of CIFAR’s Earth 4D program.
Barbara Sherwood Lollar’s work has been recognized with the highest honors including Fellowship in the Royal Society (UK), Royal Society of Canada, and American Geophysical Union. She was recently awarded the Natural Sciences and Engineering Council of Canada’s Gerhard Herzberg Gold Medal (2019), John C. Polanyi Award (2016), and the Geological Association of Canada’s Logan Medal (2018). In 2012, she was received the distinguished Eni Prize for Protection of the Environment for her research in protection and restoration of groundwater.
Her research has profoundly influenced our understanding of planetary geology and it continues to influence research the world over. As a University Professor at the University of Toronto, Canada Research Chair and Director of the Stable Isotope Laboratory, she continues to supervise, mentor, and inspire a new generation of Canadian earth science students, researchers and academics.