It’s been a while and a lot has changed since my last blog post in 2019. Pandemics, inflation, rising demands for critical metals, and lots of other changes both near and far have really distracted us from some things (like this blog for me) and has led to a refocus on other things. I’m hoping to get back to this blog am bit more in 2023 to highlight topics related to economic geology and geoscience, in general, but possibly with some shift towards things at Memorial University, Newfoundland and Labrador, and things that are of broader personal interest. In this post I’m focusing on professional registration of geoscientists in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador and the statistics regarding registered geoscientists and how many have degrees and received their training, full or in in part, from the Department of Earth Sciences at Memorial University (MUN).
For those unaware, geoscience (i.e., geology, geophysics, and environmental geoscience) is a self-regulated profession in Newfoundland and Labrador (and in many other jurisdictions in Canada), and is regulated by the Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Newfoundland and Labrador (PEGNL) and governed by the Engineers and Geoscientists Act. This means any person practicing geoscience in the province in any form, for example mineral exploration and development, oil and gas exploration and development, geotourism, environmental monitoring and regulation, climate change monitoring/mitigation, water and air quality monitoring and analysis, and teaching, to name a few, are required to be registered as geoscientists with PEGNL. There are two levels of individual registration in the province for geoscientists: Geoscientist in Training (GIT) and Professional Geoscientist (PGeo). A GIT is a early career professional that has acquired specific geoscience knowledge, usually from a bachelor’s degree in Earth Sciences, but has not yet acquired the requisite experience and professional skills (competencies) to practice independently. GITs practice under the supervision and mentorship of a PGeo, a geoscientist who has both the knowledge requirements and the requisite geoscience competencies by virtue of experience (+/- advanced training) in a given area of professional practice.
The normal progression of a geoscientist’s career involves completion of an undergraduate degree in Earth Sciences, initial professional practice as a GIT, and then subsequently as a PGeo after they have acquired the requisite professional competencies and professional practice experience. For Memorial University students, upon completion of their degree they can apply for GIT status with PEGNL (or an equivalent regulator in another jurisdiction). The initial assessment by the regulator involves an assessment of an applicant’s transcript to ensure they have completed the courses needed to meet the Geoscience Knowledge Requirements (GKR) of PEGNL (as recommended by Geoscientists Canada). Considerable effort has been expended since 2010 to ensure that students at Memorial are aware of these requirements, including this information in our Undergraduate Student Handbook, such that most students who have completed a BSc and BSc(Hons) in the Department of Earth Sciences meet these GKR requirements. Eventually, with sufficient experience and competency acquisition through professional practice and continuing professional development, a GIT will eventually be eligible to transfer from being a GIT to a PGeo.
What is remarkable is how many of our past students from the Department of Earth Sciences at Memorial University comprise the registered geoscientists in the province. Using publicly available statistics for geoscientists registered in good standing from PEGNL (as of January 12, 2023), of the 83 registered GIT in the province over 90% have a degree from the Department of Earth Sciences at Memorial University:
Of the registered PGeo there are at least 57% of PGeos registered in the province that have at least one degree (and some multiple degrees) from the Department of Earth Sciences at Memorial University, be that a graduate or undergraduate degree:
This PGeo estimate is likely an under-estimate, however, as I was only able to identify individuals that I am certain have at least one degree from our institution from the sectors I know well; there are likely other PGeo in sectors I know less well (i.e., petroleum and environmental) that have degrees from Memorial as well, but I am unaware of.
Clearly the graduates from the Department of Earth Sciences at Memorial University are impacting the geosciences in Newfoundland and Labrador. Moreover, given the challenges and opportunities of the facing our society now and into the future, including climate change, clean air and water, geotourism, energy security, and ensuring secure and stable supplies of critical metals for the green energy transition, we must ensure that Memorial University and the Department of Earth Science continues to recruit and train the next generations of geoscientists needed for the challenges that face Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada, and the planet.