Meet Brianna Bray

Jasper National Park

Brianna Bray

What's your position title?

Environmental Assessment Scientist

When did you first come to Jasper?

I moved to Jasper in the summer of 2011. I was in and out for a couple of summers, and moved here permanently in 2013.

What was your education/career path?

I went to the University of Guelph, and graduated with an Honours Bachelor of Science, majoring in Biological Science and minoring in Molecular Biology and Genetics. I started university in Biochemistry because I loved the show CSI, and wanted to do that as a career. After I realized I couldn’t work in a lab forever, I switched programs in second year.

I left university not really knowing what I wanted to do or what options were out there. I worked for a year while I figured it out, and decided I wanted to do ecological monitoring/research. I didn’t have hands-on experience for this, so I found intern opportunities that weren’t linked to a school.

I spent a month in a bush camp on a conservation reserve in South Africa, studying all kinds of animals and vegetation. From there, I travelled to Costa Rica, where I spent two months assisting with a Ph.D. dissertation. We studied two species of toucans by catching them and tracking them.

I ended up in Jasper working for Parks Canada in campgrounds for two summers, before starting as an administrative assistant for the Integrated Land Use Policy and Planning function.

In 2014, I started working for Nahanni National Park Reserve as a resource management technician, my first job in the area I wanted to be in. This was a seasonal job (6 months a year) that I did for four years. In between, I came back to Jasper and did a variety of short-term jobs with Parks Canada.

I started doing impact assessments on a short-term contract in 2017, and then started back at it in 2019.

What do you do for Parks Canada?

In Nahanni National Park, I shared duty officer responsibilities with my team; we were trained to deal with visitor safety and wildfires (we did smoke/fire-monitoring flights regularly). As one of the resource management technicians for a small park, I did a bit of everything, including:

  • bioacoustics: forest songbird monitoring
  • Arctic grayling stream distribution and life cycle movements research
  • bull trout occupancy modelling
  • alpine tundra and forest vegetation condition monitoring
  • water quality monitoring
  • glacier monitoring
  • remote camera monitoring
  • collared pika occupancy surveying

While working for Jasper National Park in environmental assessment, I review project descriptions and apply the Impact Assessment Act to them. There are various routes to assess projects to mitigate effects on the environment. I work with colleagues who are experts in various areas like aquatics, vegetation and wildlife to learn what impact a project could have on the environment.

What would you tell a 10-year-old girl about science?

Find what you are passionate about and explore your options. There are so many jobs out there that you might not have ever heard about. For example, if you love animals, being a vet isn’t your only option.

Look for opportunities to try out a job before you decide on it as a career path. Ask people who do the job; see if you can job shadow, volunteer or intern in that area. It will give you a way better idea of whether that’s what you want to do.

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