Kate Smith

PhD Geological Sciences

International Doctoral Fellow

305 ESM

Under the supervision of Dr. Dominique Weis, I am exploring the impacts of environmental pollution using honey bees as bioindicators. Trace element and isotopic fingerprints of honey samples (and other bee products) from the greater Vancouver area can serve as a proxy for chemical snapshots of ~2 km-diameter regions (the range of a typical honey bee). Thus, we can assess small-scale variations in trace elements, and their isotopes, of particular interest to pollution processes.

Research Interests:

  • Applications for traditional and non-traditional isotope systems: particularly new applications for public health
  • Method development for isotopic analysis of environmental and clinical matrices
  • Multicollector mass spectrometry (MC-ICP-MS, TIMS)
  • Isotope and high temperature geochemistry
  • Other/past research interests: igneous petrology, uranium-series geochemistry, and geochronology

2008 BSc. Chemistry, Michigan Technological University
2010 MSc. Geochemistry, University of Wisconsin-Madison
2011-2014 Senior Chemist, Wisconsin Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison
2014-2017 Senior Chemist, Wisconsin State Laboratory of Hygiene, Trace Element Clean Lab, Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison
2017-present Doctoral Student, University of British Columbia


Li, M., Weis, D., Smith, K.E., Shiel, A.E., Smith, W.D., Hunt, B.P.V., Torchinsky, A., Pakhomov, E.A. 2020. Assessing lead sources in fishes of the Northeast Pacific Ocean, Anthropocene, doi: 10.1016/j.ancene.2019.100234.

Scott, S.R., Shafer, M.M., Smith, K.E., Overdier, J.T., Cunliffe, B., Stafford, T.W., Farrell, P.M. 2019. Elevated lead exposure in Roman occupants of Londinium: New evidence from the archaeological record, Archaeometry, doi: 10.1111/arcm.12513.

Scott, S.R., Smith, K.E., Dahman, C., Gorski, P.R., Adams, S.V., Shafer, M.M. 2019. Cadmium isotope fractionation during tobacco combustion produces isotopic variations outside the range measured in dietary sources of cadmium, Science of the Total Environment, v.688, p.600-608.

Smith, K.E., Weis, D., Amini, M., Shiel, A., Lai, V., Gordon, K. 2019. Honey as a biomonitor for a changing world, Nature Sustainability, 2:223-232, doi: 10.1038/s41893-019-0243-0.

Weiss, D., Lee, D., Feldman, R., Smith, K.E. 2017. Severe lead poisoning attributed to bullet fragments retained in soft tissue, British Medical Journal Case Reports, doi: 10.1136/bcr-2016-217351.

Smith, K.E., Shafer, M.M., Weiss, D., Anderson, H., Gorski, P.R. 2016. High-precision (MC-ICPMS) isotope ratio analysis reveals contrasting sources of elevated blood lead levels of an adult with retained bullet fragments, and of his child, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Biological Trace Element Research, doi:10.1007/s12011-016-0872-3.

Singer, B.S., Jicha, B.R., Fournelle, J.H., Beard, B.L., Johnson, C.M., Smith, K.E., Greene, S.E., Kita, N.T., Valley, J.W., Spicuzza, M.J., Rogers, N.W. 2014. Lying in wait: deep and shallow evolution of dacite beneath Volcán de Santa María, Guatemala; Geological Society, London, Special Publications, v.385, p.209-234.

Singer, B.S., Smith, K.E., Jicha, B.R., Johnson, C.M., Beard, B.L., Rogers, N.W. 2011. A geochemical and isotopic perspective on magma evolution 103-25 ka beneath Volcán de Santa María-Santiaguito, Guatemala; Journal of Petrology, v.52, n.12 p. 2335-2363.

Jicha, B.R., Smith, K.E., Singer, B.S., Beard, B.L., Johnson, C.M., Rogers, N.W. 2010. Crustal assimilation no match for slab-fluids beneath Volcán de Santa María, Guatemala; Geology, v. 38, p. 859-862.

Abstracts & Presentations:

Smith, K.E., Weis, D., Li, M. 2019. Honey in the GVRD: A biomonitor for heavy metal distribution and Pb source apportionment in an urban environment, Environmental Managers Association of BC, 2019 Workshop, Vancouver, BC.

Smith, K.E., Weis, D., Li, M., Amini, M., Lai, V., Gordon, K. 2018. Pb isotope and trace element analyses of honey and fish tissue: biomonitors for environmental assessment in a changing world, Resources for Future Generations Meeting, Vancouver, BC, abstract 1283.

Weis, D., Amini, M., Gordon, K., Hanano, D., Lai, V., Smith, K.E. 2017. Honey bees as bioindicators of environmental pollution, GSA Fall Meeting 2017, 305412.

Shafer, M.M., Smith, K.E., Adams, S. 2016. Cadmium isotope fractionation in cigarette smoke and in the biosphere, American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting, V51A-3045.

Smith, K.E., Shafer, M.M., Gorski, P.R. 2016. Multicollector (MC-ICPMS) capabilities at the WSLH: Public health applications for traditional and non-traditional isotopes, UW-Madison School of Public Health, Welcome Day Poster Session.

Covach, A., Smith, K.E., Shafer, M.M., Hess, J., Raife, T. 2015. Exploring the use of single and multicollector plasma mass spectrometry in 53Cr-labeled red blood cell tracer studies, ASCP conference proceedings.

Smith, K.E., Singer, B.S., Jicha, B.R., Johnson, C.M., Beard, B.L., Rogers, N.W. 2009. Geochemical, and Sr-Pb-Th isotope constraints on magma evolution 103 to 36 ka at Volcán Santa Maria-Santiaguito, Guatemala: Eos transactions, American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting, V51A-1646.

Invited Talks & Seminars:

Weis, D., Smith, K.E. February 13, 2019. How clean is Vancouver? Ask the honeybees! Outreach seminar prepared for the staff and volunteers of Hives for Humanity, Vancouver, BC.

Smith, K.E., October 19, 2018. Trace elemental and Pb isotopic analyses of honey: an urban biomonitor for a changing world. Dept. of Land and Food Systems fall seminar series, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC.

Weis, D., Smith, K.E. January 9, 2018. Pb isotopic and trace elemental signatures in honey: Environmental proxy for pollutant source-tracking. A modified version of the GSA (2017) talk cited above, prepared for a general audience: the Richmond Bee Club, Richmond, BC.

Smith, K.E., Shafer, M.M., Gorski, P.R., Adams, S. April 20, 2017. Multicollector (MC-ICPMS) capabilities at the WSLH: Public health applications for traditional and non-traditional stable isotopes. MAGNET e-Seminar Series: ‘New Frontiers’.