Superfund Research Program

Corin Hammond

Corin Hammond is the sixteenth recipient of the annual Karen Wetterhahn Memorial Award.  The award was presented on October 17, 2013, at the Superfund Research Program (SRP) Annual Meeting hosted by Louisiana State University (LSU) in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The SRP acknowledged Hammond for her contributions to research to stabilize metals in mining waste sites, and to reverse the damage in nearby land.

Hammond’s doctoral work combines field-scale experimentation in semi-arid environments with bench-scale wet chemistry methods and molecular-scale spectroscopy techniques to better understand how stabilizing contaminants using plants, or phytostabilization, affects the form and mobility of arsenic in mine waste. Mine waste, also known as mine tailings, often contains toxic metals, which people can inhale through dust. At UA SRP, researchers have identified suitable native plants and conditions that allow them to grow where mine contamination is found. The plants stabilize the tailings, keeping them from spreading long distances through wind erosion.

Since 2010, Hammond has been collecting a time series of samples from the UA SRP phytostabilization field trial at the Iron King Mine and Humboldt Smelter Superfund Site to better understand the interactions between mine tailings, plant roots, and surrounding microbes.  The site has high concentrations of arsenic and other metals in the tailings with the potential for off-site transport and exposure in the adjacent community of Dewey-Humboldt. Hammond’s work is suggesting, contrary to expectation, that plants keep arsenic from moving through the soil by incorporating it into its stable growth phases.

Hammond is a graduate student under the guidance of Jon Chorover, Ph.D., in the Department of Soil, Water, and Environmental Science in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at the University of Arizona (UA). She earned her B.S. in chemistry from LSU and her M.A. in inorganic chemistry at UA.

“The science she is doing is not only cutting edge, but also addresses key SRP priorities, and is already impacting the field of environmental remediation science and how we evaluate remediation endpoints,” said Chorover. “Corin has emerged as a leader in our SRP graduate student research group and the UA Environmental Science graduate program as a whole.”

Hammond is also passionate about giving back to the community.  She has served as an Arizona Assurance Graduate Mentor since 2010, a program focused on providing encouragement and mentoring to low income students. She has also volunteered with UA SRP research translation activities, particularly in the development of informational pamphlets on phytoremediation and household hazardous waste.

“Corin embodies the qualities that are the legacy of Dr. Wetterhahn,” said UA SRP Center Director Raina Maier, Ph.D. “In addition to aspiring to be an excellent student and scientist, she is called to help others become interested and successful in science.”

The NIEHS congratulates Hammond on her accomplishments and wishes her continued success in her career.