Spencer Malott

Investigating the impacts of groundwater-surface-water interaction at a beach interface

Increased urbanization in the Great Lakes basin is placing a great deal of strain on the quality of our water resources. Consequently, there has been significant groundwater nutrient and microbial contamination in shallow aquifers along the shores of the lakes (e.g, from agriculture, municipal septic systems, and industrial sites) and these contaminants may discharge into near-shore lake waters. Elevated nutrient (nitrogen, phosphorous) and E.Coli levels in near-shore waters lead to frequent algae blooms, oxygen depletion and, in many cases, beach closures. This has detrimental consequences for aquatic ecosystems and recreational and tourism opportunities. Under the supervision of Dr. Clare Robinson, Spencer aims to quantify nutrient and microbial loading to the Great Lakes via groundwater discharge as well as groundwater-surface-water exchange in order to develop effective pollution management strategies. The objective of this research is determine the key factors affecting the discharge of groundwater-derived contamination to the Great Lakes to enhance predictive and management tools available to water quality managers.

Personal Background

Spencer graduated from Western University with a Bachelors of Engineering Science specializing in Civil and Environmental Engineering. He has spent two summers working with Dr. Robinson at several Great Lakes beaches where he gained a great deal of knowledge and experience that he plans to apply to his future research. Spencer began his pursuit of a Masters degree in September 2013 and is looking forward to the challenges and rewards of this experience. In his spare time, he enjoys spending time outdoors, playing golf, kayaking, and skiing.

Travel and Awards


  • Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council Alexander Graham Bell Canada Graduate Scholarship - 2014
  • Ontario Graduate Scholarship - 2013
  • City of London Design Competition - 1st Place - 2013
  • Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council Undergraduate Student Research Award - 2012