Dr. Sue B. Watson

Research Scientist - Algal outbreaks and source-water impairment: ecological and socioeconomic effects
Environment and Climate Change Canada

Current research and/or projects

Source water integrity and algal and cyanobacterial species outbreaks, blooms, toxins and taste-odour: the dynamic coupling of physics, chemistry and biology

  • Algal and cyanobacterial ecophysiology and chemical ecology
  • Harmful and noxious blooms: causes and impairments - taste-odour, toxins, fouling, food web effects
  • Drinking water and source water integrity, source-tracking wastewater and other external and internal sources of nutrients and pathogens using isotopic, genetic and chemical markers and probes
  • Human impacts on surface waters in high latitudes & elevations   
  • Agricultural, mining & pulp-mill industries and effects on source & drinking water
  • Drinking water treatment

Professional activities / interests

Source-water impairment and stewardship in a diversity of waterbodies in Canada, USA, Europe, Asia and Australia  with focus on the Great Lakes, Lake Winnipeg, Lake of the Woods, alpine, prairie and Northern lakes, working in national and international collaborations with Universities, Federal, Provincial, Municipal government agencies, public and other stakeholder groups

Education and awards

B.Sc. & M.Sc. McGill University

Ph.D. University of Calgary

NSERC Post Doctoral Fellow, University of Calgary

NSERC Discovery and Strategic Grants 2003 - present

Key publications

Watson, S.B., G. Caldwell and G. Pohnert. 2009. Fatty Acids And Oxylipins As Semiochemicals. Chapter 4 in Arts, M.T., M.T. Brett and M.J. Kainz (eds.). Lipids in Aquatic Ecosystems.  Springer, New York, USA. 377 pgs.

Watson, S.B. ALGAL TASTE-ODOUR Chapter 15 in: Algae: Source to Treatment, M57 (American Waterworks Association Manual).

Molot, L., G. Li, D. Findlay and S.B. Watson. 2009. Iron-mediated suppression of bloom-forming cyanobacteria in a eutrophic lake by oxine. Freshwater Biology 55 (5): 1102 - 1117.

Watson, S.B., J. Ridal and G.L. Boyer. 2008. Taste and odour and cyanobacterial toxins: impairment, prediction, and management in the Great Lakes. Can. J. Fish. Aquat. Sci. 65(8): 1779-1796.

Juttner, F. and S.B. Watson. 2007. Biochemical and Ecological Control of Geosmin and 2-Methylisoborneol in Source Waters Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 73(14):4395-4406.

Watson, S.B, M. Charlton, R. Yerubandi, T. Howell, J. Ridal, B. Brownlee, C. Marvin and S. Millard. 2007. Off flavour in large waterbodies: physics, chemistry and biology in synchrony Wat. Sci. Technol 55: 1–8.

Watson S.B., F. Juttner and O. Koester. 2007. Daphnia behavioural responses to taste and odour compounds: ecological significance and application as an inline treatment plant monitoring tool Wat. Sci. Technol. 55: 23-31.

Zaitlin, B. and S. Watson. 2006. Actinomycetes and taste and odour in drinking water: myths, tenets and truths. Wat. Res 40: 1741-1753.

Watson, S.B. and J. Ridal. 2004. Periphyton: a primary source of widespread and severe taste and odour. Wat. Sci. Technol. 49 (9): 33-39.

Watson, S.B. 2003. Chemical communication or chemical waste? A review of the chemical ecology of algal odour. Phycologia 42: 333-350.

Watson S.B. and T. Satchwill. 2003. Chrysophyte odour production: the impact of resources at the cell and population levels. Phycologia 42: 393-405.

Watson S.B. and E. Cruz-Rivera. 2003. Algal chemical ecology. Phycologia 42: 319-323.

Watson S.B. and J.L. Lawrence. 2003. Drinking water quality and sustainability.  Wat. Qual. Res. J. Can 38 (1): 3-13.


Adjunct Professor (University of Waterloo, York and McMaster)

Vice Chair, International Water Association (IWA) Off-Flavours Speciality Group

Board of Directors, IWA speciality group on Diffuse Pollution

Committee member, American Water Works Association: Taste-Odour Speciality Group

Advisory board member, Canadian Culture Collection (UTCC)

Associate Editor, Water Science and Technology