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Linda Campbell

Greg Black/Greg Black

For Linda Campbell, a day on the lake can result in a cooler full of Lake Ontario fish to analyze back in the lab. Or it can mean feeling her ship tilt and pitch as she struggles to pull in a 60-kilogram Nile perch in Africa.

Considering her work as an assistant professor, who holds a Canada Research Chair in Aquatic Ecosystem Health at Queen's University, Dr. Campbell is bound to have her share of fish tales. Yet it's the biologist's research into the effects of humans, pollution, contamination and invasive species that may just change the way we view the Great Lakes from now on.

Dr. Campbell, who lives in Kingston, Ont., heads out a few times a year to Lake Ontario with her students to collect samples of foreign parasites, invasive species and contaminated fish.

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"We're using this lake as a test tube to predict what is going to happen in the future," she says through an interpreter, as she is Deaf.

One project she has on the go revolves around tracking a new invasive species from Europe called hemimysis, commonly known as "bloody red shrimp." Two years ago, only a few were discovered in the lake system, but that's no longer the case.

"It spreads like wildfire," says Dr. Campbell. "There is obviously going to be an impact. We just don't know what that impact is going to be."

When she's not teaching four courses and overseeing research students in her lab, Dr. Campbell can be found online with her husband, Dr. Rob Thacker, who holds a Canada Research Chair in Computational Astrophysics at St. Mary's University. Their blog, Ecogirl & Cosmoboy, sets out to prove that everything, from the biggest galaxy to the smallest critter, is connected in some way.

"His interest is on the very large scale, and I'm focused on the small scale," she says. "Everything is connected, but at the same time there's a lot of variation."

Meet 2009's Top 40:

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  • Kent Campbell, 39, SASKATCHEWAN
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  • Christine Healy, 38, NEWFOUNDLAND
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  • Sean Ivens, 39, NWT
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