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Career Profile

Gabriel Hould Gosselin

Research Associate
Université de Montréal / Wilfrid Laurier University
Portrait de Gabriel Hould Gosselin
Portrait de Gabriel Hould Gosselin
Location Born
Location Now
Education Pathway

I support teams that collect data on the melting permafrost layer in the arctic.

About me

I was born/grew up in: Chibougamau, Quebec

I now live in: Montreal, Quebec

I completed my training/education at: Bachelors of Science in Water Engineering (Laval University), Masters Hydrological Modeling (INRS-ETE), Université de Montréal

What I do at work

My work is pretty unique and has given me a unique toolset. I am an engineer by training, but I am involved in doing scientific research. Much of what I do is what a PhD or postdoctoral student would do. My work in the Canadian Arctic combines data analysis skills with a knowledge of various scientific instruments. In my work I also use interpersonal and communication skills across a variety of research fields.

Depending on the time of year, my work can be in an office or collecting data on the arctic landscape. My work helps provide information about the effects of climate change on arctic ecosystems. It also helps us understand how melting permafrost creates a feedback loop that adds to climate change. For example, as more permafrost melts, more greenhouse gases (GHGs) are released. This contributes to the warming trend. Warmer temperatures cause more permafrost to melt, which releases more GHGs and so on.

When I am working in my office, I analyze the data we have collected. I also plan future experiments. Sometimes I must design the tools we will use. When I am on site, I install and maintain our instruments. I also support and supervise students who are carrying out research. I have planned and led several field campaigns in the arctic. These range from a few days to several weeks in remote camps throughout the year. Some of these camps are only accessible by snowmobile or helicopter.

I work closely with four researchers and their teams. This has allowed me to manage and provide technical advice to several projects.  This ranges from snow hydrology to plant ecology and biogeochemistry. Student mentorship and staff training have also been part of my work. This has brought a human aspect which I have found important and motivating. I have also developed relationships with local community members.  through organizations such as the Aurora Research Institute or in collaboration with the Pehdzeh Ki and Decho First Nations.

My career path is

This is not at all what I thought I would be doing when I was in high school! When I was in high school, I didn’t know what I wanted to do for a career. I did a career questionnaire. Based on my interests, it pointed me to engineering. I was interested in buildings and architecture, so I started out studying to be an architectural engineer.

I had always enjoyed being outdoors. I was an avid canoer and I took many long trips on rivers throughout Quebec. The importance of water in our lives, and for our lives, struck me as something I should study. As a result, I switched to a Bachelors in Water engineering. Water engineering is a type of civil engineering. It focuses on water-based projects and may include water treatment, wastewater, or infrastructure development.

I did an internship with an engineering company, but I found that type of work was not for me. But I still wanted to learn more about the role of water in our lives and how we could manage it better. I continued and completed a master’s program in hydrological modelling. This involves creating models of real-world water systems. This could be surface water such as lakes and rivers. Or it could be water in the ground, or in a wetland or bog.  The model aids our understanding of the water system. It also lets us predict future events and manage our water resources.

I worked in this field for a short while. When the opportunity came to become involved in research in the arctic, I jumped at the chance. It's not often you get to travel to such remote locations or to do work that can affect the entire planet. When I stop to think about my career path, I am in awe. In the general population, few people go into research. Even fewer get to go to the wild, remote places on the planet that I do. I love it!

I am motivated by

I get excited by having interesting problems to solve. It is very rewarding to be able to solve them with limited resources, in remote and harsh environments. I find that getting things to work, or to fix what is broken, is quite rewarding.

How I affect peoples’ lives

I love working in a team of passionate people! Being part of what brings them to their full potential is one of the most fulfilling parts of the job. Working in environmental sciences, specifically in climate change studies, has the perk of being useful for everyone!

Outside of work I

I enjoy rock climbing, hiking, running, and playing simulation games.

My advice to others

Fail forward, learn from your mistakes. Figure out what you DON'T want to do and make choices accordingly.

When I was a student, I enjoyed:
  • Art
  • Math
  • Home Economics
  • Science
  • Technology
  • Computer Science
  • Electronics
  • Psychology
When I was a student, I would have described myself as someone who:
  • Enjoyed doing things on my own
  • Liked helping people
  • Enjoyed working with my hands
  • Liked reading
  • Played video games
  • Didn't really care about grades
  • Wasn't sure what I wanted to do
  • Learned best "by doing"
  • Liked to take things apart to see how they worked
  • Played music in a band

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