||May/June 2007 issue||
Environmental chemist Miriam Diamond is Canadian Geographic's Environmental Scientist of the Year
By Marci McDonald
The postage-stamp playground tucked behind the
Church of St. Mary Magdalene in midtown Toronto hardly
looks like the sort of terrain to provoke an environmental
epiphany. But it was here, in Healey Willan Park more than
a decade ago, that Miriam Diamond, then a perennially
exhausted new mother, stumbled on a turning point in her
environmental chemistry career. "My kids were crawling in
the dirt," she recalls, "and I started asking about contaminants:
'What's literally in your sandbox?'"
At the time, Diamond had spent years studying pollution
in waterways from the Arctic to the Great Lakes. But gunning
for tenure in the geography department at the
University of Toronto (U of T), she realized that with two
toddlers, she had to rule out further research that entailed
hanging off floatplane pontoons. "I was looking for a line
of inquiry that was my own," she says, "and here it was in
my own backyard."
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