Employee Spotlight: The Many Faces of Alyson Neufeld

Employee Spotlight: The Many Faces of Alyson Neufeld

Alyson joined Vertex Environmental in September 2020 as a Field Technician, working on various in-situ chemical oxidation (ISCO), chemical reduction (ISCR) and Trap & Treat® projects across Ontario and in BC. Before joining the Vertex team, Alyson completed a PhD in Environmental Chemistry at the University of Toronto, making her a clear choice to transition into a role supporting Vertex’s in-house laboratory testing operations as the demand for those services continue to increase. She has now recently been made Vertex’s Research Laboratory Manager. In this new role, Alyson has been able to combine her field experience with her over 5-years of research experience to continue to expand and strengthen Vertex’s existing capabilities.


Alyson in Vertex’s In-House Treatability Testing Laboratory


Alyson routinely runs a variety of bench-scale tests to allow optimal treatment approaches to be identified and to fine-tune the dosing rates of remedial amendments. Sometimes the testing is just for proof-of-concept into whether a remedial approach can treat an unusual or emerging contaminant. This treatability testing is usually done by exposing soil and/or groundwater samples from actual sites to various amendments using static batch reactors and/or dynamic, flow-through columns. Testing can also be completed on native soils such as for natural-oxidant demand testing or hydraulic conductivity, to better optimize remedial designs. These tests support not only Vertex’s in-situ and ex-situ remediation activities, but also our water treatment division where we can help find the correct pre-treatment, filtration media and contact time for a site to allow treated water discharge standards to be met.

“I think it’s really interesting to be involved in work that has a defined, real-world application and bridges the gap between research, analytical testing and field work.”

Beyond these routine tests, Vertex is consistently looking for ways to better support our field operations and to improve our treatment approaches especially when it comes to emerging contaminants. To Alyson, this is one of the most exciting parts of her role: getting to be innovative and help improve environmental remediation based on what we see happening in the field every day and the challenges that are encountered or the opportunities for improvement that are identified.


Alyson After a Wild Day of QA/QC Testing in the Field


One of the more recent examples of this was the need that Vertex identified to develop real-time quality assurance/quality control (QA/QC) measures to support our field staff in ensuring they are executing work plans in accordance with the remedial designs. Alyson played an integral role in developing these innovative procedures that have since been used on many permeable reactive barrier (PRB) and other remediation projects that use zero-valent iron (ZVI) and activated carbon-based Trap and Treat® remedial amendments. These proprietary QA/QC procedures, developed by Vertex in the lab and on site, help Vertex verify that the remedial amendments being put in the ground are at the correct concentration and in the right location so the field application can be confirmed as matching the design. Alyson has also been working further adapted this procedure to account for more heterogeneous subsurface conditions and for new remedial amendments, such as Fluoro-Sorb®, an advanced in-situ adsorptive media used at sites impacted by per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).

You may have already met Alyson at one of Vertex’s Demo Days or the recent SMART Remediation events explaining the capabilities that are available in Vertex’s laboratory. If not, please speak to her the next time you run into her and she’d be happy to answer any of your bench-scale or QA/QC testing questions.


Alyson at a Recent SMART Remediation Event



You can contact Alyson at alysonn@vertexenvironmental.ca