From helping to build highways as a heavy equipment operator, to designing and constructing industrial and aerospace monitors, to studying uranium-immobilizing bacteria, Karen Kinsella, Ph.D. has achieved a broad and unique background during her professional career. Currently a Senior Technical Specialist in biochemistry and geochemistry with GZA GeoEnvironmental, a valued REGENESIS® client, Dr. Kinsella is committed to our earth’s environment. Shares Kinsella, “I have a diverse career path. In addition to other roles, I’ve raised dairy cattle and worked as a corporate librarian searching intellectual property. In my role with GZA I work with teams of geotechnical, environmental, water, and ecological engineers and scientists, developing conceptual site models. I also design holistic solutions for environmental protection and remediation. I view my current role as a way to shed light on the interactions between groundwater and soil, while helping others understand how those interactions change when we build on a site, clean up a site, or alter a site’s hydrogeology.”
Pursuing a Passion to Clean Up Our Environment
Kinsella has successfully combined much of what she’s learned throughout her life to help clean up our environment, and hopefully transfer her knowledge and passion for land science to like-minded young consultants. She continues, “I saw environmental remediation as a practical way to pursue my passion for understanding soil biochemistry in a multidisciplinary, collaborative environment.” With a B.S. in animal science from the University of Connecticut, a Master of Science in chemistry from Central Connecticut State University, and a Ph.D. in soil chemistry and microbiology from the University of Connecticut, Kinsella enjoys all aspects of the learning process, and strives to keep up with the latest trends in remediation. Shares Kinsella, “I stay current with published literature, subscribe to feeds from university research groups, and attend webinars, conferences, and workshops. Essentially, I try to learn something new every day.” She also finds time to volunteer for various non-profit organizations that have an impact on our environment. She continues, “I collaborate on industry guidance document development. For example, last year I co-authored the National Ground Water Association’s (NGWA) publication, Groundwater & PFAS: State of Knowledge & Practice, and the Interstate Technology & Regulatory Council’s (ITRC) web-based guidance document, Bioavailability in Contaminated Soil.”
Collaborating with REGENESIS
When asked what she enjoys most about working with REGENESIS, Kinsella points to the caliber of the company’s scientists and engineers. “I enjoy working with REGENESIS because their scientists and engineers think outside of the box,” she says. “For example, we needed a second injection of PlumeStop® into fractured bedrock underneath a landfill to try and keep more of the additive in the source area hot spot. REGENESIS suggested an alternative formulation that would break out of its colloid sooner and not travel so far downgradient, although we were very happy that the initial injection traveled as far as it did!” Kinsella likes to recommend PlumeStop because it also enhances natural remedial processes by improving contact between contaminants, degrading microbes, and nutrients. Additionally, she likes PersulfOx® because it’s a one-part ISCO reagent with good longevity. When asked what motivates her in her role she shares, “I enjoy brainstorming with multidisciplinary teams, and passing the results on to young engineers and scientists.”
Residing in eastern Connecticut with her husband, a carpenter, Kinsella collaborates on an array of projects in several northeastern states, including Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. In her free time she enjoys hiking with their dogs, tending to her garden, and reading. She also practices transcendental meditation and yoga, which she says, “Helps me stay focused and balanced on a daily basis.” When asked how she has seen the environmental remediation industry change over the years, she remarks she’s noticed an increase in the role of sustainability. She continues, “I see our industry moving towards sustainable production. For example, as a member of the American Chemical Society, I’ve seen chemical manufacturing shift toward using fewer resources and more toward the use of solvent recycling. This means the contaminants we clean up from 21st century manufacturing will be very different from those we’re addressing now from 19th and 20th century legacy wastes.” And what does Kinsella feel the future holds for the environmental remediation industry? “I believe we will move away from cleaning up every chemical down to concentrations we can’t measure, and more toward practical endpoints, with the focus on managing contaminant bioavailability and mobility to protect receptors.” The future goals of GZA GeoEnvironmental seem to echo this. She continues, “GZA’s mission is to be the premier provider of practical and innovative solutions to the 21st century challenges of natural and built environments for the benefit of our clients, employees, shareholders, and society.”
REGENESIS is proud to have Karen Kinsella, Senior Technical Specialist with GZA GeoEnvironmental, as a valued client and partner in environmental remediation, and appreciates her diverse experience and contributions in providing successful remediation outcomes for REGENESIS and its clients.