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Natalia Kozak

Natalia Kozak

Photo: Natalia Kozak

PhD at the Department of Forestry and Wildlife Management – biogeochemical cycles and their changes due to global warming.

Who are you?

Natalia Kozak, 24, Poland. I’m an expert in marine and freshwater studies. I specialize in biogeochemical cycles and their changes due to global warming.

What are you researching?

In my PhD programme I study mercury (Hg) dynamics in subarctic lake food webs. My research focuses on climatic changes and their influence on mercury bioaccumulation rate in fish and biomagnification rate in food webs across latitudinal gradient. The aim is to estimate what factors influence and inhibit Hg concentration in fish. Mercury is a highly toxic heavy metal that influences animals and human health, thus it is important to monitor its pathways and changes in the environment.

What’s in it for society?

The research will help to develop monitoring programmes, land-use management and adaptation to climate change, as well as establish level of risk to human health. In some regions – like Scandinavia – fishes constitute a regional diet for society. After the industrial revolution we observe high additional input of Hg in waters and high Hg bioaccumulation rate in fishes. Mercury monitoring has been carried out since the 19th century, and compared to historical data, nowadays we observe a rise of Hg bioaccumulation in fish due to climate change. Mercury can cause massive damage to neurological, immunological and digestion systems especially for children. Thus, the importance of mercury-monitoring is a key concern for society and should be a top priority focus.

What’s next after your PhD?

After my PhD studies I plan to work on climate change influence on biogeochemical cycles of essential nutrients as well as toxic compounds like heavy metals. I’m planning to continue research and contribute to sustainable marine and land-use management and human healthcare.

When not researching

Besides studying aquatic environment, I like to observe the sky with a telescope and learn new theories about the universe. My daily free time is filled with reading fantasy and science-fiction books, cycling and diving.