June 28, 2021
For Immediate Release
WATERLOO – Wilfrid Laurier University has appointed Dirk Wallschläger as the inaugural Laurier Distinguished Research Chair (LDRC) in Aquatic Sciences. Wallschläger is an environmental chemist whose research focuses on selenium, an environmental contaminant that poses challenges to fresh water systems and aquatic wildlife across North America.
“We are delighted that Professor Wallschläger will be joining us at Laurier,” said Anthony J. Clarke, dean of the Faculty of Science. “As an internationally recognized scholar in the analysis and geochemistry of trace element pollutants in water, Professor Wallschläger will complement our community of scholars associated with the Laurier Centre for Cold Regions and Water Science and direct a research program that expands our institutional strength in this area.”
Laurier Distinguished Research Chairs recognize the research excellence of mid- to late-career faculty who have proven records of sustained scholarly work that have achieved national and international recognition. During his five-year term as LDRC in Aquatic Sciences, Wallschläger will receive dedicated funding and time to pursue his research agenda.
“My research program as chair will focus largely on the environmental chemistry and toxicology of the trace element selenium, which is a potential threat to aquatic wildlife in the vicinity of many industrial operations, mainly in the western regions of North America,” said Wallschläger. “This research-intensive position will allow me to maximize the productivity and impact of my scholarship, while being able to dedicate additional time to scientific outreach activities with commercial laboratories, regulatory agencies and Indigenous communities dealing with selenium-related issues.”
Wallschläger comes to Laurier from Trent University, where he has served as a faculty member since 2002 and received three Merit Awards for Research. His leadership roles at Trent included director of the Water Quality Centre and Instrumental Chemical Analysis Graduate Program, as well as president of the Trent University Faculty Association. Wallschläger has also served in adjunct faculty positions at Queen’s University and Oregon State University. He completed his PhD in Analytical and Environmental Chemistry at the University of Bremen, Germany in 1996.
“Dr. Wallschläger is eager to build interdisciplinary relationships that promote the public policy implications of his work,” said Stephen MacNeil, chair of Laurier’s Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry and head of the LDRC in Aquatic Sciences hiring committee. “He has attracted significant funding for his research, particularly from industrial partners, and he will create an excellent training environment for students in analytical and environmental chemistry. We are excited to welcome Dr. Wallschläger to our department.”
As LDRC in Aquatic Sciences, Wallschläger’s goals include developing and promoting advanced methods for analyzing selenium and its individual compounds, completing the understanding of selenium’s environmental chemistry and toxicology, and improving its industrial water treatment processes through laboratory and field experiments.
“Ultimately, I’m hoping that we will lay the scientific foundation for and be involved in the development of science-based environmental regulations for selenium across North America to ensure a sustainable balance between the interests and values of all stakeholders – including industry, governments and Indigenous communities – and appropriate protection of the environment,” said Wallschläger. “I look forward to exploring how my research experience and expertise can complement and enhance the dynamic research environment in aquatic sciences at Laurier and I am committed to expanding its impressive suite of analytical and experimental facilities.”
Wallschläger will formally begin in the role of LDRC in Aquatic Sciences on July 1, 2021.
– 30 –