Currently I am an NSF Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Desert Research Institute in Reno, NV working with Joe McConnell studying lead isotopes in polar ice cores to examine and trace historical changes in lead pollution sources.
I owe my interest in science and research in part to my mother, who taught me and my brother outside the classroom. We worked with people of all ages investigating the natural world through direct involvement in environmental programs, including University of New Hampshire Marine Docents, Great Bay Coast Watch, Seacoast Science Center, and New Hampshire Audubon. Through experiences monitoring water quality, phytoplankton, bald eagles, and working as a rocky shore naturalist, my early work impressed upon me the importance of understanding the natural world and the need to engage with youth and the community. These early experiences motivated me to pursue a degree in secondary science education with a double major in chemistry and earth and space science at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, MI. I went on to complete my doctoral degree at Oregon State University in Corvallis, OR with Alyssa Shiel investigating influences of natural and anthropogenic lead sources on environmental archives.
My research focuses on tracing the pathways of heavy metals in the environment to consider and mitigate the consequences of environmental perturbations on life in the ocean and on land. I work in a diverse array of systems from West Coast estuaries to systems to Arctic environments, developing and applying high-resolution geochemical techniques. Currently, I am using lead isotopes in glacial ice to fingerprint historical (500 BCE to the present) changes in lead pollution sources.
My goal as an Earth Science educator is to create a learning environment that is student-centered, where students actively engage with and inform the course content and build confidence and skills in making evidence-based conclusions. Introducing students to Earth Science in a deep, meaningful way, creates opportunities for students to understand the world around them. These connections and the understanding of what influences and shapes our world creates scientists and citizens who are well informed and prepared to discuss and search for solutions to some of the biggest issues facing our society.
Ph.D., Ocean, Earth, and Atmospheric Sciences, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR (2021)
Dissertation: "Investigating Influences of Natural and Anthropogenic Lead Sources on Environmental Archives at Multiple Spatial and Temporal Scales: Evidence from Oysters and Ice Cores."
Graduate Certificate in College and University Teaching Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR (2020)
B.S.Ed., Chemistry and Earth & Space Science, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI (2015)
Grants & Fellowships
National Science Foundation Office of Polar Programs Postdoctoral Research Fellowship (2021-2023) at Desert Research Institute, Reno, NV. Award #2138782; $327,921
Geological Society of America Graduate Student Research Grant (2018-2019); $1,960
Wensman, S. M., Shiel, A. E., & McConnell, J. R. (2022). Lead isotopic fingerprinting of 250-years of industrial era pollution in Greenland ice. Anthropocene, 38, 100340.
GSA Annual Meeting, virtual (November, 2020)
Presentation - 250-Year reconstruction of lead pollution in Greenland ice
Goldschmidt2020, virtual (June, 2020)
Presentation - Application of HR-ICP-MS techniques to constrain modern lead pollution sources in Greenland ice
CERF 25th Biennial Conference, Mobile, AL (November, 2019)
Poster - Efficacy of utilizing shell plantings to mitigate ocean acidification impacts on oysters (Crassostrea gigas) health.