Energy Career Profile: Limnologist

You could certainly be forgiven for living your life up until this point without ever knowing what a limnologist is. However, if you are planning on embarking on a career in the energy field, it is important to be fully informed of all of the areas in which you could work. So, let’s start with the basics. What exactly is a limnologist? A limnologist is someone who studies the physical, chemical and biological properties of lakes, streams, and rivers. Given the vast number of waterways in the world, you can only imagine the kind of scope this job has.

Basics of the Job

A typical day as a limnologist could see you floating on the surface of a lake in a small boat as you gather water samples from various different points in the lake. The reason you are doing this is because an environmental assessment has been commissioned to determine the effects a petrochemical company may have on the environment were it to build a refinery here.

You will analyse whether or not the construction of this refinery will harm this lake. Animals and plants that live in water are often very sensitive to changes in their environment. As a result it is vital that you accurately predict any changes in order to keep the lake’s wildlife alive and healthy. Temperature, physical characteristics and aquatic communities are just a few aspects on which you will gather data during this field trip.

Job Duties

No two limnologists will have exactly the same work schedule and this variety is what entices so many energy enthusiasts to go down this route. One day you could be out on the water collecting samples, as detailed above, and the next you could be in the lab performing chemical analyses on the samples you gathered.

In addition to the scientific aspect of the job, you will also need to communicate with local residents and developers in order to create programs that will ensure the health and safety of the rivers and lakes. You will undertake research and stay abreast the latest developments in the field and present your findings to government bodies or industry leaders. You might even be called in to court as an expert witness in a law suit revolving around environmental impact.

Where You Will Work

As a limnologists, your job will take you all over the world (or at least anywhere you can find a river, lake, or stream!) Once you have settled on a destination, you won’t be confined to an office day in day out. You will be able to work in a range of locations. You may spend some of your time in the field collecting and recording data, gathering samples and giving or attending training sessions. You will also spend time in the lab and time in the office where you will compile and record your research and findings.

Who to Work For

As a rather niche job, there is not an endless list of places that want or need to hire a limnologist. However, there are still plenty of place to choose from. There are government departments at all levels that will require limnologists, as well as engineering and environmental consultancy firms. You may also find work with an environmental NGO or activism group. If you are more interested in the academic side of limnology, you might find yourself better suited to a job in a research institute or university.