Taylor Lynn Virgin – Alumni Gold Medal Award

Portrait of Taylor Lynn VirginTaylor, a member of the WaterSTP research group has been awarded the prestigious gold medal award.

In high school Taylor had an interest in biology and genetics with ambitious plans to become a genetic counsellor one day.

Like many students at Waterloo, it was BIOL 240 or microbiology that ignited her passion and shifted her academic path. She pursued co op jobs that allowed her to pursue research in microbiology, including two terms with biology professor, Josh Neufeld, in his microbiology lab. Neufeld later become her thesis advisor.

During a senior work term in civil engineering, Taylor researched the effects of climate change on water quality. Specifically, she studied algae bloom formations and the bacteria it produces, known as cyanobacteria, and how it affects water quality. According to Taylor, many things affect the formation of algae blooms including a rise in temperatures, landscape disturbances and even wildfires which decreases vegetation and will lead to soil erosion and soil run off into the water.

This fall, she will pursue a MASc in civil engineering to study cyanobacterial blooms at a drinking water treatment plant. Taylor hopes to pursue a career in water microbiology. Safe drinking water for livestock, pets and of course humans, is dependant on regular monitoring of our water supply.

“We should all care about the impact of climate change on our water. The bacteria can produce toxins that are very harmful to us if consumed.”

In her spare time, She was a science ambassador for the University and loved to talk to prospective students about science and the myriad of opportunities Waterloo could give them.

Alumni Gold Medal recipients are selected on recommendation from the Dean of a Faculty or the Dean of Graduate Studies to recognize the outstanding academic achievement of graduating students. At the spring ceremonies, these medals are awarded to one undergraduate student from each of Waterloo’s six faculties. During the fall ceremonies, medals are presented to a masters and doctoral student.