NSERC Chair for
Women in Science & Engineering

Nora Casson

Dr. Nora Casson

There are many opportunities that you may not be aware of.

Assistant Professor, Geography
University of Winnipeg

Dr. Nora Casson is an assistant professor in the Department of Geography at the University of Winnipeg. Her research focuses on how water and nutrients cycle through landscapes, how these processes are affected by human activities and what the impacts of these processes are on water quality. Dr. Casson completed a PhD at Trent University and a post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

As an academic, what is your favourite part of your job?
My favourite part of my job is working with students and getting them excited about subjects I am passionate about. I find teaching and supervising undergraduate and graduate students to be energizing and rewarding.

What are you researching and what excites you about it?
My research investigates how human activities across landscapes influence water quality in streams and lakes. I work in a variety of different environments, including forests, wetlands and agricultural systems. This research excites me because understanding how water and nutrients cycle through ecosystems helps us make informed management decisions and protect water quality for everyone.

What types of professions can students graduating in your field enter?

Students graduating in this field have a wide range of professions open to them, including jobs in the environmental sector (environmental consulting, forestry, etc), jobs at government agencies (Environment Canada, Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Natural Resources Canada, etc) and jobs at academic institutions. Canada has an abundance of natural resources, and so there is high demand for people who are trained to monitor and assess environmental processes.

Is your workplace male-dominated? If so, how do you negotiate being a woman in a male-dominated workplace and/or field?

My field tends to have slightly more men than women, although among younger researchers, the gender balance is more even. I try to seek out colleagues who are supportive of each other and their students, regardless of gender.

How do you foster and encourage diversity in your workplace?

I try to encourage supportive and open environment, where people from all backgrounds feel comfortable contributing and sharing their experiences and opinions. I feel very strongly that having a diverse mix of voices results in better and more interesting outcomes, which is particularly important when trying to address complicated environmental issues.

What advice would you give to girls or young women who are interested in careers in science or engineering?

Seek out people, especially women, who have the type of position or career that you are interested in and ask them how they got to where they are. People often take unexpected paths to careers in science or engineering, and are generally friendly and happy to talk to you. There are many opportunities that you may not be aware of, and finding mentors can help you take advantage of them.

As a professional in science or engineering, who are your role models and mentors?

I am fortunate to have many strong women as role models, including my graduate and postdoctoral supervisors. They have demonstrated to me that there are many ways to be successful as a woman in science, while balancing life and other interests outside of work.