Skip to main content

Linda Jewell

Research Scientist in Plant Pathology
St. John’s Research and Development Centre, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
Linda Jewell | Chercheuse scientifique en phytopathologie
Linda Jewell | Chercheuse scientifique en phytopathologie
Sector
Location Born
Location Now
Education Pathway
School Subject

Linda Jewell is a Research Scientist in Plant Pathology at St. John’s Research and Development Centre, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.

About me

I was born/grew up in: Toronto, but I grew up in the west end of Ottawa.

I completed my training/education at: I completed my BSc and MSc at the University of Ottawa. Later I moved to Guelph to do my PhD at the University of Guelph. When I was finished, I moved to Sapporo, Japan, to work as a postdoctoral researcher at one of Japan’s national agricultural research stations. In 2015, I moved to St. John’s, NL, to begin my job as a research scientist with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada at St. John’s Research and Development Centre, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.

What I do at work

One of the best things about my job is that I have a lot of flexibility in my day-to-day tasks. Sometimes I am outdoors collecting samples of diseased plants. This means that I get invited into farmer’s fields or I can go out for a hike to find wild plants. Sometimes I am in the lab culturing and identifying the microbes that are responsible for causing plant diseases. And sometimes I am in my office preparing to share my findings with growers and other scientists. My job involves a lot of math, because I need to calculate how to prepare solutions in the lab. I also have to do calculations to set up properly sized field experiments. I also use statistics to analyze my results. I also use chemistry to test whether the plant diseases that I have identified might be associated with harmful natural chemicals. Some of these chemicals are called mycotoxins that are produced by some fungi. To actually identify the microbes that cause plant disease, I use the tools of biology. For example, I grow organisms in the lab, examine them under the microscope, isolate their DNA, and compare how closely related they may be to other disease-causing microbes found in other parts of Canada.

Luckily, I don’t work alone. At the research centre, I am part of a team with four other scientists that have expertise in other areas of agricultural science (such as entomology and crop physiology). I supervise a lab technician and undergraduate students to help me get my work accomplished. I also share samples and research goals with scientists from other research stations and universities across Canada. These collaborators lend their expertise to make sure that our research gets done quickly and correctly.

My career path is

I had NO idea what I wanted to do after high school! I didn’t have access to very much information or mentorship when I applied to university because nobody in my family had been to university before my older brother. I enjoyed science, so I applied to a program at the University of Ottawa that combined organic chemistry and molecular biology. I didn’t know it at the time, but that was actually the perfect balance for me!

During my undergraduate degree, I won a scholarship that gave me a job in a biology lab during the summer. That was the first time that I learned about graduate school, and when I learned what research was really all about! My experience in the lab made me realize that I wanted to become a researcher. I completed my MSc in organic chemistry and I loved every moment of it, but I missed biology. After a lot of self-reflection, I decided to switch gears and do a PhD in plant pathology because it combined my life-long love of fungi with plant biology.

I am motivated by

I find my career very rewarding because we all need to eat. Here in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador, as well as in other boreal areas in Canada, agriculture is very challenging. This is because the growing season is short, temperatures are low, and the soils are acidic. There hasn’t been much research done on the plant diseases that affect agricultural crops here. As a result my job is very open-ended and I do a lot of detective work to solve the problems that growers are already having. I then have to figure out the best way to prevent challenges in the future. The problems that I help to solve directly affect the food that I find in the grocery store every time I go shopping! I have always been a person who enjoys a balance between time spent outdoors and indoors, so this job is perfect for me. I feel pretty lucky that I get to hike through fields and work with passionate farmers, and then go back to the lab and use high-tech science equipment all within a single day! I get really excited when I find myself on the trail of a new or unusual plant disease or pathogen.

How I affect people’s lives

We all need access to healthy and safe food. Plant diseases threaten food security by destroying plants before or after harvest. My work to understand and to reduce the impact from plant diseases can directly increase the yield and the quality of the food that farmers work hard to provide.

Outside of work I

I try to strike a balance between indoor and outdoor activities. I am very introverted and I spend a lot of time reading, playing video games, drawing, painting, and knitting, but I also love running, snowboarding, skating, hiking, and playing roller derby.

My advice to others

If plant pathology interests you, pay attention to the plants around you! It isn’t hard to find examples of plant diseases, such as spotty black maple leaves or mats of pinkish grass at snow melt. Biology, especially microbiology or plant science, is a good foundation for plant pathology.

When I was a student, I enjoyed:
  • Art
  • Computer Science
  • Industrial Arts/Shop Programs
  • Literature and English language arts
  • Music
  • Science
When I was a student, I would have described myself as someone who:
  • Enjoyed doing things on my own
  • Liked helping people
  • Organized activities for my friends
  • Played on a sports team
  • Enjoyed working with my hands
  • Was motivated by success
  • Liked reading
  • Felt at home in the outside, natural environment
  • Played video games
  • Was really creative
  • Felt great satisfaction in getting good grades
  • Wasn’t sure what I wanted to do

Explore Career Profiles

  • Dr. Harpreet Kochhar at standup computer station in his office.

    Dr. Harpreet Kochhar

    President

    I am the head of the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC).
  • Isabel Hilgendag in the fileld collecting samples in the Arctic

    Isabel Hilgendag

    MSc Student (Biology)

    I look for heavy metals, such as mercury, in Arctic marine animals, to ensure they are safe to eat.
  • Manpreet Kaur in her lab

    Manpreet Kaur (She/Her)

    Postdoctoral Fellow

    I work on research projects to discover drugs to treat infectious diseases.
  • Ryan Mitchell headshot

    Ryan Mitchell

    Hatchery Supervisor

    My job is to supervise the daily workflow at our salmon hatchery.
  • Daryl Lawes in front of one of Seaspan’s many tugboats supporting marine transportation.

    Daryl Lawes

    Environment Manager

    I am responsible for all aspects of environmental protection, performance, and regulatory compliance for Seaspan Shipyards.
  • Corie HOuldsworth headshot

    Corie Houldsworth

    Inspector

    I perform inspections of worksites where radiation is used, stored or transported.
  • Terra MacDonald at aquaculture site holding farmed salmon.

    Terra MacDonald (she/her)

    Veterinarian and Fish Health Manager

    As the veterinarian for Mowi Canada West, I care for the salmon at all life stages, from egg to harvest.
  • Isha Berry Headshot

    Isha Berry

    Epidemiologist

    I look for patterns in disease outbreaks and health outcomes in populations across the world.
  • Clair Poulin hiking near wetland area

    Claire Poulin

    Zebrafish Researcher/Pre-Med Student

    I am researching how Zebrafish respond to lower oxygen levels in their environment.
  • Jasmin Chahal headshot

    Jasmin Chahal

    Assistant Professor

    I teach in the Department of Microbiology & Immunology at McGill University.
  • Lynn Henderson with German Sheppard dog

    Lynn Henderson (she/her)

    Veterinarian, Clinician, and College Professor

    I am a small animal veterinarian serving animal health in a variety of capacities.
  • Anastasiia Prysyazhnyuk headshot

    Anastasiia Prysyazhnyuk

    Science and Innovation Lead, Health Beyond Initiative

    I explore ways in which science and technology can provide solutions to healthcare problems in space and on Earth.
  • Hayleigh Conway laying on map of NWT and pointing to Inuvik on the map. Taken on GIS Day 2017.

    Hayleigh Conway (she/her)

    Geomatics Technician

    I make maps that help answer questions about the health of the environment in the Western Arctic.
  • Megan Katz headshot

    Megan Katz

    Prosthetic Technician

    Megan is a prosthetic technician who makes and repairs artificial limbs.
  • Dr. Jackie Dawson doing field research on Beechy Island, Nunavut.

    Jackie Dawson (she/her/they)

    Professor and Canada Research Chair

    I work with large teams of academics, Inuit knowledge holders, and decision makers to understand the risks and solutions to environmental change.
  • Katie Harris essayant une combinaison spatiale de simulation au Centre européen des astronautes.

    Katie Harris (she/her)

    Medical Student/Prospective Aerospace Medicine Specialist

    I am working towards a career as an aerospace medicine specialist - a doctor who works with astronauts and keeps them healthy for long missions!
  • Chris Derksen en train de faire ses recherches sur le terrain en Arctique.

    Chris Derksen (he/his)

    Climate Scientist

    I use satellite data and climate models to understand how climate change is impacting snow and ice across Canada.
  • Shari Forbes à l'extérieur du centre de décomposition humaine

    Shari Forbes (she/her/elle)

    Forensic Scientist

    I conduct research to understand how the human body decomposes in our unique Canadian environment.
  • Viviana Ramirez-Luna dehors en hiver

    Viviana Ramirez-Luna (she/her)

    Environmental Entrepreneur

    I founded (and run) a consulting company to help businesses, communities, and organizations reduce the waste they produce
  • Andrew Brereton travaillant à l'ordinateur

    Andrew E. Brereton

    Computational Scientist

    I write code that teaches computers how to design new drugs.