Bravo! Postdoctoral Research Scientist Dr. Jaime Cesar Colmenares honoured with International Association of GeoChemistry Award

In August 2021, Dr. Jaime Cesar Colmenares accepted the Emerging Investigator Series award from the International Association of GeoChemistry (IAGC), as recognition of early career excellence that brings new insights into the field of geochemistry or promotes geochemical applications. The award recognition was accompanied by the publication of his paper “A novel isotopic approach to distinguish primary microbial and thermogenic gases in shallow subsurface environments”.

Jaime has been a Postdoctoral Research Scientist in the Organic Geochemistry and Petrology Section of the Geological Survey of Canada (GSC) in Calgary since 2020. He obtained a B.Sc. in Geochemistry from the Universidad Central de Venezuela and holds a PhD in organic and isotope geochemistry from Curtin University in Australia.

Jaime describes his published study as the ‘elephant in the room’ – something that researchers know is there but prefer to ignore. His elephant is ethane gas.

“Ethane is often found with primary microbial methane, but we tend to ignore it because the mechanisms for microbial generation of ethane are not well understood,” says Jaime. “Instead of ignoring the ethane, I wanted to study it to see what information it can provide – such as helping researchers distinguish primary microbial gas from early mature thermogenic gas.”

When he’s not in the lab, Jaime enjoys expressing himself artistically through singing, acting and poetic writing.

When asked where Jaime sees himself in ten years, he says science builds pathways that are unpredictable, but that he would love to study life evolution using molecular fossils. Canada has a virtuous reputation for the recording, preservation and study of past life through fossils. However, Jaime says little is known about molecular fossils from the same geological archives, and that he would be thrilled to explore that field in the future.

Learning how to better communicate NRCan science to Canadians is also important to Jaime. “I believe scientists should not only be in the lab but also on the stage. We ought to take the platform and communicate what we do in ways citizens can understand.”

As for his advice for other postdoctoral researchers at NRCan:

“Building a career feels like you are always projecting to the future, but do not forget the present. Enjoy the experiment that turns out amazing and the ones that fail too. Science is a service. In everything you do, always consider how you are helping others with that. Ah, and this is a word we seldom write in our papers: trust! In supervisors, the lab staff, yourself and the science. Trust is key.”

Congratulations Jaime!

Read the full interview from IAGC here:

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