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Spotlight on Valérie Ouellet

400 307 Stroud Water Research Center

A native of Québec, Ouellet is undeterred by winter field work in Pennsylvania. Photo: Pablo Romero Reyes

Having grown up in the scenic village of Padoue in eastern Québec, Valérie Ouellet, Ph.D., was surprised to hear people comment on how chilly Pennsylvania was last winter. “It was 3 degrees Celsius here but only -30 C in Québec!”

Ouellet moved to Pennsylvania in February to take a postdoctoral research position in the Fluvial Geomorphology Group at Stroud™ Water Research Center, headed by Melinda Daniels, Ph.D.

For Ouellet, adapting to the warmer temperatures proved easy. However, the same can’t always be said for cold-water fishes, such as native brook trout.

Sudden temperature changes from thermal pollution or inadequate tree shade can even be deadly for some aquatic species.

RESTORING STREAM TEMPERATURES TO HELP NATIVE COLD-WATER FISHES

During her research at the Stroud Center, Ouellet will develop a water temperature model to indicate the impact of riparian land use on stream temperatures.

“This will help us better understand how we can modify riparian forest buffers to restore stream temperatures, improve the resiliency of stream ecosystems to climate change, and improve thermal habitat for native cold-water fishes,” Ouellet says.

Ouellet completed both her Ph.D. and master’s degree in water sciences at the Institut National de Recherche Scientifique Centre Eau Terre Environnement in Québec City. She also holds a certificate in wildlife and habitat management from the Université du Québec à Rimouski and a bachelor’s degree in biological sciences, with a specialization in ecology and environment, from Montréal University.

WORKING AND PLAYING IN CHESTER COUNTY

“We are very fortunate to have Val bring her fish biology and water temperature expertise to Stroud Center,” says Daniels. “She will be invaluable as we continue our work to quantify how riparian and watershed conditions influence the health of our streams.”

Although there’s no place like home, especially one Ouellet describes as “one of the most beautiful regions of Québec, just close by the St. Lawrence River,” she has found another, warmer home in Kennett Square, where she resides with her cat, Nimoy.

“I enjoy outdoor activities such as trekking, kayaking and fishing, and this region has a lot to offer in that regard.”

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