Superfund Research Program


Anne Sassaman

Anne Sassaman, Ph.D., NIEHS Division of Extramural Research and Training Director, presented Blakely Adair, Ph.D., with the Karen Wetterhahn Memorial Award at the 2001 SRP Annual Meeting in Gainesville, Florida.Using avian populations inhabiting Superfund sites as her primary models, Adair developed and applied analytical chemistry and modeling techniques for use in hazardous waste site assessment. For her Master's thesis, Adair developed a sensitive method for total mercury analysis and applied it to kidney and food samples collected from juvenile warblers inhabiting nest boxes on Superfund sites. The study demonstrated that warblers accumulated renal mercury from their diet at levels that correlated with soil and sediment levels.

For her doctoral research, Adair studied metal contaminant mixtures found on the Anaconda Smelter Superfund site in Montana. To examine metal uptake, distribution, and toxicity in small birds, she collected and characterized the metal concentrations in food samples from nestling birds. She also collected nestling tissue samples and compared food metal concentrations and tissue metal concentrations. Her findings were used in conjunction with other small animal data to prioritize remediation processes on the Superfund site.

Adair served as Chair of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-Research Triangle Park (RTP) Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) group. She learned about this opportunity on her Wetterhahn Award-sponsored visit to NIEHS to meet with senior staff and to learn about NIEHS.

In December 2002, Adair began an EPA post-doctoral fellowship through the Office of Research and Development in the National Health and Environmental Effects Research laboratory, Experimental Toxicology Division, Pharmacokinetics Branch (ORD/NHEERL/ETD/PKB), working with David Thomas, Ph.D. She improved and developed techniques to quantify the different oxidation and methylation states of arsenic metabolites in biological samples.

Adair finished her post-doctoral fellowship with the EPA in December 2006. After a short break she began work as a research assistant at North Carolina Central University (NCCU) in a cooperative agreement with the EPA. Her responsibilities at NCCU were to implement and complete a creek water quality assessment in an Environmental Justice community using a community participation approach.

In October 2007, Adair started a National Research Center (NRC) Postdoc at the National Institute of Science and Technology (NIST), where she has proposed to develop a system for preparing and quantifying metalloproteins in biological samples using isotope dilutions and the metal cofactor for detection with ICP-MS.

In August 2011, Adair started as a tenure track Assistant Professor at The Citadel after a year as an Adjunct Professor. Her research at The Citadel focuses on two areas. One is to develop, validate, and optimize sample collection and preparation techniques for quantification of biologically and environmentally relevant metals and metalloids in representative matrices at relevant concentrations. The second is to apply element specific detection of heteroatoms or elemental tags to produce more accurate biomolecule quantification methods.