Superfund Research Program
SRP Trainees Host Super FUN: Science for a Safer World Booth at Cal Day
On April 22, trainees from the University of California (UC) Berkeley Superfund Research Program (SRP) Center hosted a booth, "Super FUN: Science for a Safer World," at the annual Cal Day celebration. The popular event, which promotes various programs and activities at UC Berkeley, attracts thousands of people, including students, faculty and staff, families, and school groups
Trainees in engineering and biology collaborated to create fun and educational materials to share the mission and achievements of the UC Berkeley SRP Center. Attendees learned what Superfund sites are, how researchers study the health effects of potentially harmful chemicals, and how they develop innovative technologies to reduce the levels of these chemicals in the environment.
Trainees also developed engaging hands-on activities. For example, visitors conducted a fun and messy experiment wherein water was first contaminated with green food coloring and then filtered through sand or activated charcoal to visualize effective remediation strategies. Older children and adults learned about the UC Berkeley SRP Center from a handout that was designed by trainees. Participants then tested their knowledge in a fun trivia challenge. Younger children learned through coloring books illustrating different aspects of the environment.
SRP Researchers Shine at American Chemical Society Meeting
Superfund Research Program (SRP) grantees from all over the country gathered for the 2017 American Chemical Society (ACS) meeting in San Francisco this April. Presentations and posters by SRP grantees highlighted innovative SRP-funded research including technologies to detect and remediate potentially harmful chemicals in the environment.
Moving Technologies to the Field
SRP Health Scientist Administrator Heather Henry, Ph.D., co-chaired an ACS symposium titled “From the Bench to the Field: Evaluating Innovative Remediation and Detection Technologies,” with Souhail Al-Abed, Ph.D., of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The symposium featured six SRP trainees, four small business grantees, and three SRP researchers. The presenters shared their experiences of the often iterative process of applying new technologies to complex field environments. They also discussed how they have used those experiences to further optimize their tools.
Among the trainees, University of California (UC) Berkeley SRP Center postdoctoral fellow Ray Keren, Ph.D., presented his work on understanding the genes and other biological elements involved in communities of bacteria that can degrade trichloroethylene (TCE), a human carcinogen that has been found in underground water sources and surface waters. Another UC Berkeley trainee, Jean Van Buren, described her research to understand the byproducts that may be produced when contaminants are treated with persulfate, which her research team is investigating as a method to remove contaminants in the environment. Other SRP trainee presenters included Lauren Redfern from Duke University, Angela Gutierrez from the University of Kentucky, and Lisandra Santiago Delgado from Oregon State University (OSU).
During the small business talks, Anthony Miller, Ph.D., from the SRP-funded Entanglement Technologies, discussed his company’s work to develop an air monitoring device to measure TCE and other contaminants that can volatilize into the air. SRP small business grantee David Battaglia, Ph.D., of Lynntech, described his company’s tool to develop membranes for water purification and recycling. Presenters from two other SRP-funded small businesses, Picoyune and Microvi Biotechnologies, also presented as part of the session.
In another talk, Neal Durant, Ph.D., a scientist at Geosyntec Consultants and collaborator on an SRP-funded individual research project at Johns Hopkins University, described the 20-year development of a tool to treat chlorinated pollutants in clays and silts. The presentation included findings from early work by current Northeastern University SRP Center Director Akram Alshawabkeh, Ph.D. In another presentation, Tim Mattes, Ph.D., from the University of Iowa, provided an update on using bacteria to remove polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) from sediments.
Recognizing SRP Grantee Jerrold Schnoor
A symposium on April 3 honored the work of Jerrold Schnoor, Ph.D., a former editor of Environmental Science and Technology, an ACS journal, and current SRP grantee at the University of Iowa. The symposium featured research on pollutant modeling and transport, remediation of pollutants using plants, and transport of nanoparticles. According to the symposium announcement, Schnoor has had a profound impact on environmental chemistry through his leadership in the field and his contributions to improving environmental health education.
During the symposium, Henry discussed Schnoor’s work as a project leader with the Iowa SRP Center since 2006, where he has focused on how plants can degrade PCBs, a contaminant found in soil, groundwater, and air.
Highlighting Achievements in Environmental Chemistry
UC Berkeley SRP Center grantee David Sedlak, Ph.D., led a symposium highlighting innovative findings in environmental science and technology. Among the presenters, OSU SRP Center project leader Staci Simonich, Ph.D., described her research using bacteria to remove polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) from contaminated soil.
Northeast SRP Researchers Gather to Discuss Research and Opportunities for Collaboration
On April 4 and 5, SRP researchers from institutions across the northeast gathered in Boston for the Northeast Superfund Research Program (SRP) Meeting. The event was hosted by the Northeastern University PROTECT SRP Center and co-sponsored by SRP Centers from Boston University, Brown University, Columbia University, Dartmouth College, and the University of Pennsylvania.
The meeting began with an overview of the six northeast centers. Subsequent sessions focused on regionally important topics, such as reducing exposure to arsenic in drinking water, SRP-community interactions, the use of big data in environmental science research, and perspectives on the health risks of poly- and perfluoroalkyl substances. The sessions were very well received and resulted in engaging dialogue. A reception and poster session provided SRP trainees the opportunity to present their research and to network with others in the northeast SRP community.
The event concluded with a brainstorming session on how the northeast SRP Centers can engage in future collaborative activities. Ideas included offering workshops on environmental health topics, holding informal lightning talks, and planning science cafés where trainees and researchers can communicate their findings to the public.
Directors of the six northeastern SRP Centers plan to hold this meeting annually to share ideas and promote regional collaborations.