Peggy Desserud

Peggy Desserud completed her PhD in Land Reclamation and Remediation in November 2011. Peggy was born in Quebec, but grew up in New Brunswick, and so considers herself a Maritimer. While completing an undergraduate degree in marine biology at Dalhousie University in Halifax, she discovered a tendency towards sea-sickness, so moved west to Alberta to begin a career in the oil and gas industry. This career included international assignments in South America.

In 2003, she left TransCanada Pipelines and entered the University of Calgary, where she completed a Master of Environmental Design. Her research focused on the restoration of rough fescue grassland on pipelines in south western Alberta. A summary of her thesis has been published in the Journal of Environmental Management and as a technical paper by the department of Alberta Sustainable Resource Development.

Wishing to delve more deeply into the ecology of Alberta grasslands, in particular the growth characteristics of rough fescue, Peggy began her PhD studies in September 2006, with Dr. Anne Naeth as her supervisor. Her study area was the Rumsey Natural Area, in central Alberta, a large tract of uncultivated rough fescue grassland in which oil and gas development has been ongoing since the 1950s. Using existing natural gas well site and pipeline disturbances, Peggy experimented with various revegetation techniques, conducting parallel greenhouse trials. She also assessed the cumulative effects of past and present disturbances in Rumsey, and developed a state and transition model based on disturbance and reclamation techniques. Her research spanned the extent of rough fescue ecology from soil microbial influences to seed growth mediums, to practical reclamation applications for the oil and gas industry. Chapters of her dissertation have been published in the journal of Ecological Restoration and the Natural Areas Journal.

She found intriguing results with one of her dissertation experiments: applying native hay cut from grassland as a seed source and mulch on oil and gas disturbances. To further develop this process, Peggy re-entered the University of Calgary in April 2012 as a post-doctoral fellow in the faculty of Environmental Design. She will reclaim six oil and gas well sites in southern Alberta with native hay and assess the recovery of older sites. She expects to prove native hay is a viable and practical reclamation method.

In her spare time, Peggy enjoys gourmet cooking, wine making, travelling, golfing and gardening. 

Updated 18 June 2012