Teck Endowed Chair of Mineralogy
Area: Natural History, Earth & Space
Interests: hockey, camping, hiking
Phone: 416.586.5820Follow @KimTTait
B.Sc. (1st class Honours), Geology, University of Manitoba, 1999
M.Sc., Geology, University of Manitoba, 2002
Ph.D., Geosciences, University of Arizona, 2007
FCGmA (Fellow of the Canadian Gemmological Association), 2009
Kimberly Tait is a Curator of Mineralogy and oversees mineralogical, gemmological and meteoritic research at the ROM. She is also a cross-appointed Assistant Professor in the Department of Geology at the University of Toronto.
Before Kim could even spell the word “geologist”, she knew that was what she wanted to be when she grew up. Picking up rocks and minerals and bringing them home for her own collection, and even asking her father to pull the car over on the side of the road to look at rocks was not uncommon, even at a very young age. When she was 10 years old, her family moved to Hamilton, Ontario and a geologist and micro-mount collector lived down the street. He would take her collecting, showed her his mineral collection, and even gave her a Mineral encyclopedia signed “To the Future Mineralogist”.
Kim started studying geology at the University of Manitoba, and although many of aspects of geology interested her, her 2nd year mineralogy course definitely stuck out as her favorite. It gave her the opportunity to learn about different types of minerals, how to identify them, and the chemical formulas that apply to each of them.
Kim's research has led to publications on new mineral structures and the nomenclature of mineral groups. She has worked on the alluaudite-group minerals, a group of phosphate and arsenate minerals that were poorly characterized. She is also interested in non-ambient mineralogy, such as high-pressure and low- or high-temperature phases, using both neutron and X-ray diffraction and scattering techniques. A majority of her research for her Ph.D was performed at the Los Alamos Neutron Scattering Center (LANSCE), which is a major experimental science facility located in Los Alamos, New Mexico. Several of her experiments at LANSCE were on materials that either form or change properties at extreme conditions, such as gas hydrates and some sulfate minerals that are expected to form on the surface of Mars. She also performs experiments at the Argonne National Laboratory, Advanced Photon Source (APS) in Illinois. Typically, the experiments at the APS are at high-pressure (10-80 GPa) and use a diamond anvil cell to simulate how the crystal-structure (atomic make-up of a mineral) will behave under such conditions. This kind of research will help us better understand the dynamics and structure of the Earth and other planetary interiors.
Kim was also a coordinator of the ROM exhibit Water: The Exhibition, an innovative show that illustrates the indispensable roles that water plays in our world.