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Faculty Friday Feature

Larry McKay

Welcome to our biweekly faculty Friday feature where we interview an EPS faculty member to learn more about their research and interests. This week we talk to Larry McKay, a Professor in EPS.

One of Larry’s students and a post-doc collecting water samples at Volunteer Army Ammunition Plant

What made you decide to pursue a career in Earth Sciences?
After a couple of years as a mediocre Physics major, I had a really good instructor for freshman geology. He made rocks come alive, so I switched to Geological Engineering.  

How would you describe your research in 3 sentences or less?
My research is mainly on contaminant fate and transport in hydrologic systems. It’s a combination of plumbing (aquifers, wells, springs & streams) and garbage disposal (hazardous waste landfills, industrial sites, latrines, and dairy barns).  

What is your favourite part about teaching?
Seeing students develop confidence in their ability to learn. It’s especially gratifying to see grad students who get to the point where they realize they don’t need a professor any more.   

What advice would you give to your college aged self?
Relax. Get involved in student clubs. Go to church.  

If you were not in research/academics what would you do instead?
I’d probably drill water wells. Before I went to grad school I worked for a consulting company and remember one remote village where the residents brought each of us a cooler full of salmon as thanks for their new well.   

What is a fun piece of trivia that most people don't know about you?
I used to compete in archery tournaments. At 17, I took first place in the youth bare bow division (recurve bow, no sights) at the BC Provincial Championships in Vancouver.

What are some of your hobbies/interests?
Hunting, fishing and having a good time with family and friends at the lake.

Larry and alumni at a UT football game
Larry McKay with one of his catches

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