Born and raised in Calgary, Alberta, Court has become an international expert in environmental chemistry. He has inspired the chemistry community to view science in new ways through his keynote talks and conference lectures in Sweden, Italy, Canada and elsewhere.
Court is an academic with 21 peer reviewed journal publications and 3 book chapters under his name, but he also prides himself on his work in the field. With Chemistry Matters, Court serves as an expert chemist throughout all steps of an investigation: from the field, to the lab, to the courtroom. Court helps solve some of the most complex and litigious chemistry issues.
Here’s a glimpse of Court’s day-to-day: “Every day is different. I’m actively involved in the business development of Chemistry Matters as well as each project we take on as a company. This work has taken me around the world and is often used in litigation disputes where companies have been accused of releasing contaminants into the environment.”
More about Court’s Story
Decision to Pursue Chemistry
Court Sandau began his career as a chemist, nearly by accident. Under the direction of his university entrance advisor, he made an impulsive decision to switch his undergrad from French Literature, a path he planned to pursue alongside his future wife, to the Chemistry program offered at the University of Western Ontario.
“Science was what I was most interested in. The program was a major in chemistry supported with a minor in environmental science, and it was a good fit. I liked what I was learning. Looking back the decision made sense; my best grades had always been in chemistry.”
Carleton University & the NWRC
Court continued to pursue education in the field he loves through a graduate program at Carleton University. It was at Carleton that Court connected with Dr. Ross Norstrom, an Adjunct Professor employed by the National Wildlife Research Centre (NWRC).
The NWRC is a Canadian government research facility where Court performed his graduate research, measuring contaminants in wildlife and working on tissue samples collected from fish, bald eagles and even polar bears.
“Dr. Norstrom was internationally recognized for his work, … I had the opportunity to travel with him and to present my work to the international scientific community… In Amsterdam, I presented to a group of world renowned scientists, many of whom I had admired for years.”
Measuring Metabolites & the CDC
After earning his Doctorate of Philosophy in Chemistry, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (the CDC) in Atlanta offered Court a job due to his work with the NWRC: “There were less than a handful of people worldwide measuring metabolites of PCBs in [human] blood and I was one of them.” Court, his wife and daughter packed their belongings to embrace a new adventure in Atlanta.
“It was the best job in the world. A chemist’s playground. The CDC has every instrument available for a chemist to work with.”
Court worked over four years with the CDC under mentor Dr. Don Patterson “one of the nicest, smartest, truly genuine men I have ever met.”
Return to Canada
It wasn’t a career or educational opportunity that brought Court back to Canada, but rather the decision to be closer to family. Court took a consultant position at Jacques Whitford as a senior risk assessment specialist but soon began to to dream of setting out on his own. Court then launched TRIUM Environmental, Inc., and built a team focused on chemistry consulting, risk assessment, site assessment, and development of remediation technologies, such as chemical oxidation.
At TRIUM, Court began to develop rigorous environmental forensics, geoforensics, and biomonitoring services that are now flagship services offered at Chemistry Matters.
The Origins of Chemistry Matters
In 2011, Court pursued his new venture and incorporated Chemistry Matters. “I wanted to continue to develop geoforensics, environmental forensics and our biomonitoring programs, not only because I enjoy the work but because these services are critical… there’s a real need for the skill set we offer.”
Perhaps one of the most important services Court provides at Chemistry Matters is his expert services on litigious cases:
“Our clients call when they’re facing, or may be facing, a litigation dispute. We have been retained in environmental cases around the world to testify and to share our knowledge of how and when contaminants were released into the environment. It’s important to understand if the client is at fault or not and our expertise helps to establish what occurred historically on site.”
When Court isn’t presenting his research, experimenting in the lab, or exploring in the field, his family is his pride and joy. “We’ve got a healthy family with four children. We spend a lot of time indulging our kids interests. We enjoy the company of one another, we love to go skiing, to take time away from electronics, to just go fly-fishing and of course, to get out of the city and into the beauty of nature.”
Today, Chemistry Matters thrives, and Court continues to publish his research and to present his findings to students and peers at conferences around the world. To learn more about Chemistry Matters, explore Court’s recent articles and presentations or click here to meet the team.
Advice to Students
In 2011, Court was appointed Adjunct Professor, Department of Civil Engineering, at the University of Calgary: “When I’m not working on behalf of our clients, I enjoy sharing what I’ve learned with students. I’ve been an Adjunct Professor with the University of Calgary since 2011 and it’s always a pleasure to work with students and to discuss all aspects of science.” Click here to read Court’s advice to students.
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