Emerging Investigators series – Ami Riscassi

We are delighted to introduce our latest Environmental Science: Processes & Impacts Emerging Investigator, Ami Riscassi!

Ami received her B.S. in Mathematics from Wake Forest University (1996) and worked in Yosemite National Park for the next year where she decided to pursue a career which would allowed her to apply her analytical skills to supporting air and water resource management in National Parks. She returned to graduate school in 1997 for an M.S. in Environmental Engineering at the University of Virginia (UVA). After graduating in 1999, she worked as a fish/water quality research assistant with the National Park Service/USGS in Lake Clark National Park and as a physical science technician in Yosemite National Park. Ami spent the next 6 years (2000-2006) as a physical scientist within the USGS National Research Program, Water Resources Division, measuring and modeling the complex hydrologic system within Everglades National Park.

Knowing she wanted to work in forested/mountain systems as well as in her local environment, she returned to UVA to pursue her PhD in Environmental Sciences (2006-2011) conducting research within Shenandoah National Park, followed by 3-yrs as a post-doctoral researcher at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (2011-2014). In both PhD and post-doc positions, her research focused on determining the controls on mercury mobilization from the watershed to the stream ecosystem. Ami returned to UVA in 2014 to be a research scientists and Projects Coordinator for the Shenandoah Watershed Study. In this position, she maintains the long-term water quality monitoring program while pursuing additional research questions relevant to water resources in the western Virginia mountains.

Read her Emerging Investigators series article: “The effect of wildfire on streamwater mercury and organic carbon in a forested watershed in the southeastern United States” and find out more about her research in the interview below:

Your recent Emerging Investigator Series paper focuses on the effect of wildfires on streamwater mercury and organic carbon content. How has your research evolved from your first article to this most recent article?

One of my first articles as a graduate student assessed the instrumentation and methodology necessary to conduct automated high-flow stream sampling for trace-level mercury analysis. I then used those methods to evaluate the hydrologic and chemical controls on mercury transport in forested mountain streams. From those remote systems, contaminated from atmospheric Hg deposition, I moved to assessing controls on stream Hg transport in an industrially contaminated urban system and expanded on the prior work to evaluate organic (methyl mercury) as well as inorganic mercury. This most recent article was an application of what I had learned about stream Hg transport, but within the context of a large scale disturbance, fire. I was ‘lucky’ to be working within Shenandoah National Park when a relatively rare wildfire (for the Eastern U.S.) burned one of our study watersheds. It didn’t take long to search the literature and conclude that the impact of forest fire on streamwater Hg had not been assessed and we were in a unique position to quickly mobilize and conduct this study. I applied the methods developed in that first paper to this most recent study; it’s a nice feeling to continue citing one of your first papers throughout your career.

What aspect of your work are you most excited about at the moment?

I put some research on hold for the time sensitive post-fire Hg study that I am excited to return to now. I am evaluating the response/recovery of streams in Shenandoah National Park from historical acid deposition, within the context of different flow regimes. It’s a very unique data set (collecting high flow data in headwater streams for decades is labor intensive and not frequently done!) and I’m excited to finish up the analysis, write the manuscript and get this new piece of information out to the research and resource management community.

In your opinion, what is the biggest impact to aquatic ecosystems caused by elevated mercury and organic carbon?

Elevated inorganic mercury concentrations (what we measured in this featured study) have the potential to result in increased methylmercury concentrations, given the right environmental conditions and microbial community. Methylmercury is a neurotoxin that bioaccumulates in higher order predators, like fish, that humans eat. The global community is making efforts to reduce mercury in the environment due to the negative health implications, including the U.S. (see MATS standards, https://www.epa.gov/mats). Quantifying the contribution of Hg to streamwater from unregulated sources, such as wildfire, is important to accurately assess global budgets as well as the potential for changes in methylmercury in local streams.

What do you find most challenging about your research?

Communicating research findings succinctly in papers. I tend to want to write about every detail of the methods, analysis, and all my ideas of what the results may mean. I always end up writing way too much initially, but then take a few steps back, and return to it (many, many times) from the perspective of a fellow scientist not involved in the project. With that approach, I am ultimately able to sculpt it down to something that is more useful and relatively concise.

In which upcoming conferences or events may our readers meet you?

You’ll have to come to the University of Virginia or Shenandoah National Park!  I was just at the International Conference on Mercury as a Global Pollutant this past summer and will hopefully be attending the fall AGU meeting in 2018.

How do you spend your spare time?

Trail running, dog walking, reading (just finished Lab Girl by Hope Jahren, wonderful book), and volunteering with the local collie rescue. Vacations are usually backpacking adventures with my former grad school lab-mates.

Which profession would you choose if you were not a scientist?

Can I just pick another type of scientist? I think being a wildlife biologist or entomologist would be pretty spectacular. If pressed, perhaps I could be a Resource Manager with a National Park or National Forest.

Can you share one piece of career-related advice or wisdom with other early career scientists?

From my personal experience (see my bio), I would point out that there is no one path to becoming a scientist. Pursue the ideas/places/environments/collaborations that interest you from the start and you’ll be led down a path where you enjoy your work and your life.

 

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Emerging Investigators Series – Andres Martinez

We are delighted to introduce our latest Environmental Science: Processes & Impacts Emerging Investigator, Andres Martinez!

Andres Martinez is a Researcher Scientist and Adjunct Assistant Professor at the University of Iowa, USA. He has 10 years of scientific research experience, during which he has developed expertise in the areas of field sampling, development of analytical method and analysis of hydrophobic organic compounds in complex environmental matrices, environmental modeling, and data analysis. Distribution, transport, and fate of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in air, water and sediment/soil have been his main areas of interest, where he has already published more than twenty peer review papers in high impact scientific journals. His research has included collaboration with other researchers in the Iowa Superfund Research Program, IIHR-Hydroscience & Engineering, department of Occupational and Environmental Health, the Center for Global and Regional Environmental Research (CGRER), and Lucille A. Carver Mississippi Riverside Environmental Research Station (LACMRERS), at the University of Iowa. He has also collaborated with researchers in the department of Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering, the University of Texas at Austin and researchers from the Department of Environmental Health, Boston University

 

Read his Emerging Investigators series article “Development and application of polymeric electrospun nanofiber mats as equilibrium-passive sampler media for organic compounds” and find out more about his research in the interview below:

Your recent Emerging Investigator Series paper focuses on the role of the use of polymeric electrospun nanofiber mats for monitoring environmental organic compounds. How has your research evolved from your first article to this most recent article?

It is quite different. Most of my research focus on measuring and modelling PCBs and other POPs in the environment (air, water, sediment) using already tested active and passive sampling methods. Here, we developed “from scratch” a novel passive method to measure more polar organic compounds in water and sediment systems.

What aspect of your work are you most excited about at the moment?

Exploring new research ideas.

In your opinion, what is the biggest advantage of using nanofiber mats over traditional organic compound sampling mediums?

As we emphasize in the paper, the idea of fabricating electrospun nanofiber mats (ENM) that sample during the equilibrium stage, which minimizes the uncertainty when calculating the environmental concentration. It is very promising (i.e., shorter field deployments and easier analytical detection). In addition to the ENM high surface area-to-volume ratios (S/V), that is a faster sampler, we can improve their uptake performance through surface chemical functionalization and addition of nanoparticles.

What do you find most challenging about your research?

Generate interesting research questions that can be funded.

In which upcoming conferences or events may our readers meet you?

SETAC Minneapolis.

How do you spend your spare time?

With my family.

Which profession would you choose if you were not a scientist?

Good question. Outdoor photographer…

Can you share one piece of career-related advice or wisdom with other early career scientists?

Develop new collaborations

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Emerging Investigators series – Anke Neumann

 

We are delighted to introduce our latest Environmental Science: Processes & Impacts Emerging Investigator, Anke Neumann!

Anke Neumann is an environmental chemist (MSc in Chemistry from ETH Zurich, 2004) and received her PhD from ETH Zurich (2009). She carried out postdoctoral research in Bangladesh (freelance, 2009-2011) and at the University of Iowa (fellowships, 2011-2013). In 2014, Anke joined Newcastle University as a Lecturer in Environmental Engineering.

Her research focuses on redox processes at the mineral-water interface and how these processes affect the fate of organic and inorganic compounds in the environment. For more details, visit her research group’s website

Read her Emerging Investigators series article “As(V) in magnetite: incorporation and redistribution” and find out more about her research in the interview below:

 

Your recent Emerging Investigator Series paper focuses on sorbed and incorporated As on magnetite and the effect of Fe minerals on As mobility in natural systems. How has your research evolved from your first article to this most recent article?

My first article was based on my MSc work on the redox reactivity of Fe(II) species associated with Fe-bearing clay minerals and I have worked on redox reactions of Fe minerals and their effect on contaminant fate ever since. I started working on the interactions between Fe minerals and As after my PhD, when I led and conducted a long-term field project investigating As removal from drinking water with zero-valent iron-based filters in Bangladesh. It was then lucky coincidence that I arrived in Michelle Scherer’s lab as a postdoc just as Brittany Huhmann was beginning her MSc project on As-magnetite interactions, which provided the data for this most recent article.

What aspect of your work are you most excited about at the moment?

I am actually excited about two projects. On the one hand, my PhD students have been producing very interesting results from their work on contaminant degradation with Fe-bearing clay minerals that they reduced with dissolved Fe(II). On the other hand, I am also interested in oxygenation reactions of Fe(II)-bearing clay minerals, which have long been overlooked and are now – finally – enjoying increasing attention. So, this new field is expanding and quickly gaining momentum, and I am excited to contribute to further developing this field.

In your opinion, what is the potential impact of your findings on groundwater quality?

I do not think that our findings will change groundwater quality per se but rather increase our understanding of how and where As is sequestered in the environment, for example an aquifer. The new insights will also help us to design and engineer sequestration pathways, be it in situ in the aquifer or once the water has been pumped to the surface. This will be particularly important when we think about water management for the future, which will likely include approaches such as managed aquifer recharge or aquifer storage and recovery and produce conditions under which As sequestration into magnetite could occur.

What do you find most challenging about your research?

Most of my research focuses on understanding reactions mechanisms and how things work at a very fundamental level. I find it sometimes difficult to convince others of the significance and relevance of my research to environmental issues and ‘real-world’ problems.

In which upcoming conferences or events may our readers meet you?

I usually attend one or two conferences a year, such as Goldschmidt, ACS National Meetings, or the Clay Minerals Society Annual Meeting. My ‘conference season’ has just ended with the start of the new semester and so far, the only set event this year is the biennially held Iron Biogeochemistry workshop.

How do you spend your spare time?

I spend most of my free time with my family. Seeing my daughter (4) grow up, exploring the world, and, just recently, starting school is my reality check and spending time with her makes me realize the (other) really important things in life.

Which profession would you choose if you were not a scientist?

This is one of the most difficult questions for me – I never really considered any other profession. I think that if I had to quit being a scientist, I would need to do something really different but I also enjoy creating ‘TOC art’ and similar, although I am not sure that I am sufficiently artistic to make this a profession.

Can you share one piece of career-related advice or wisdom with other early career scientists?

As a scientist, your work is constantly being judged: prepare yourself for harsh criticism and also failure to convince, for example reviewers of your papers or grant applications. When I am faced with rejection, I find it important to be able to tap into a broad variety of support: from my colleagues who have been in the same situation and cheer me on; from my friends who engage me in a life outside of academia; and, most importantly, from my family who so naturally confront me with a totally different perspective on things.

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Environmental Chemistry of Water, Sediment, Soil and Air: Early careers meeting

Environmental Chemistry of Water, Sediment, Soil and Air: Early careers meeting is taking place in London, UK on 14th December 2017.

Organised by the Royal Society of Chemistry’s Environmental Science Group, you will have the opportunity to share your research in a supportive environment, network with fellow early career scientists, and hear about the career opportunities available to Environmental Chemists.

Speakers include:

Dr Ailsa Stroud – Defra Air Quality team​
A Senior Scientific Policy Advisor, currently working for Defra’s Air Quality team, Ailsa Stroud has provided impartial scientific advice to the UK Government on atmospheric chemistry and air quality, climate change, global resilience and adaptation strategies and geoengineering. Following her PhD in Atmospheric Chemistry from the University of Cambridge, she spent 5 years as an Ice Core Analytical Chemist at the British Antarctic Survey, leading field programmes in both polar regions.She is also a Visiting Fellow at Ca’ Foscari University of Venice.​

 
Dr Laura Newsome​ – ​University of Manchester
Laura is a research scientist currently working at the University of Manchester. Her research explores how microorganisms affect the fate and transport of contaminants and metals in the natural environment. For her PhD she investigated how natural microbial processes can be stimulated in the subsurface to remediate radioactively contaminated groundwater.  In between obtaining her degree in environmental geology and starting her PhD, Laura spent 6 years working as a radioactive substances and chemicals scientist at the Environment Agency and as an environmental consultant.

Key Dates:

Abstract Deadline: 16th November

Early Bird Registration Deadline: 16th November

Registration Deadline: 30th November

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Modeling in Environmental Chemistry: Themed Issue

Environmental Science: Processes & Impacts (ESPI) seeks your high-impact research for our upcoming Themed Issue on Modeling in Environmental Chemistry

Edited by ESPI Associate Editor Matthew MacLeod (Stockholm University) and Guest Editors Todd Gouin (TG Environmental Research) and Tom McKone (University of California), this issue will showcase original research, perspectives, and reviews, relating to the use of modeling strategies to understand environmental systems. The scope of this issue is broad, and includes but is not limited to the following topics:

  • Global modeling of pollutants
  • Environmental fate modeling
  • Bioaccumulation modeling
  • Exposure assessment
  • Modeling in regulatory risk assessments
  • Toxicokinetic/toxicodynamic modelling

The submission window for this Themed Issue closes at the end of October 2017 – if you would like to submit to this Themed Issue, please contact the ESPI Editorial Office at espi-rsc@rsc.org to register your interest.

Guest Editors: Left to Right – Matthew MacLeod (Stockholm University) Todd Gouin (TG Environmental Research) and Tom McKone (University of California)

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Upcoming events with the Aerosol Society

On the 8th-9th November 2017 the Aerosol Society will be holding two events at the University of Birmingham.

 

A course on the “Fundamentals of Aerosol Science 2017” will be held on the 8th November – find out more here.

This established and highly recommended course provides an opportunity for both new and existing researchers to explore and understand aerosol science and improve or refresh their knowledge of some of the fundamental concepts.

Delegates are also able to choose to attend an interactive exhibitor demonstration and training workshop where our industry exhibitors will be showcasing their aerosol related instruments and technology.

 

The Annual Aerosol Science Conference will be held on the following day. This year’s theme is “Pushing the Limits in Aerosol Measurements and Simulations“.

Now celebrating its 31st year, the conference provides a forum for like-minded aerosol scientists from both academia and industry to network & share knowledge.

Aerosol processes are extremely complex, occurring over wide ranges in timescale and lengthscale, and extending to dense sprays and clouds. Refined measurement and simulation techniques are essential to adequately capture the microphysical detail while describing collective large scale effects and identifying new phenomena.

A focus of this meeting will be to explore the challenges faced in aerosol characterisation and simulation and how these challenges are being addressed.

Deadline for abstracts – 16th October 2017 

 

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IEEC 2017

We are delighted to introduce the 2017 International Environmental Engineering Conference & Annual Meeting of the Korean Society of Environmental Engineers (IEEC 2017), held on November 15 – 17, 2017 in Jeju, Korea.

The theme for this year’s meeting will be “Innovative Technologies and Climate Change Adaptation“. In recent years, researchers in environmental science and engineering associated with water, wastewater, air and soil/groundwater are more active than ever. In light of recent concerns about climate change and global environmental issues, resilient solutions for sustainable growth are urgently needed. Therefore, the theme of IEEC 2017 is to disseminate and share Innovative Technologies in environmental science and engineering with respect to climate change adaptation together with scientists, engineers, and policy makers around the world.

Important dates:

Abstract submission due: July 17, 2017
Early registration due: August 21, 2017

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Computer plastics recycled into toys

Written for Chemistry World by Harriet Brewerton

Brominated flame retardants found in toys and cup lids

Researchers in Europe have narrowed the search for bad recycling practices that are to blame for some toys and food packaging inadvertently containing banned pollutants.

Manufacturers often incorporate chemicals designed to limit household fires, such as brominated flame retardants, in soft furnishings and electronic devices. However, concerns about brominated flame retardants’, particularly polybrominated diphenyl ethers’, impact on the environment and human health means their use is heavily restricted.

infant playing with toy cars

Source: Georgijevic/iStock /Getty Images Plus

Previous studies have already indicated that brominated compounds unintentionally exist in toys and food packaging. The EU recently updated its guidance on recycling and disposal of materials containing polybrominated diphenyl ethers to combat this contamination.

Chromatography combined with mass spectrometry is the standard method to analyse plastics for brominated flame retardants, but this is expensive and time consuming. Now, Stuart Harrad, at the University of Birmingham, and colleagues have shown they can simplify the process by using a handheld x-ray fluorescence spectrometer.

 

Read the full article in Chemistry World.


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Congratulations to the Poster Awards winners at the 26th Japan Society for Environmental Chemistry Annual meeting

The 26th Japan Society for Environmental Chemistry Annual meeting was held in Shizuoka, Japan from 7 – 9th June 2017. This year’s event was attended by 700 people, with 156 oral presentations and 180 poster presentations.

Since 1990, the JEC has been working for the sound management of environmental chemicals through development of analytical techniques and waste treatment, understanding geochemical cycling of elements and molecules, and risk assessment. In order to facilitate communication between researchers and stakeholders in different countries, the JEC has held international conferences for exchanging knowledge related to environmental pollution by micro-pollutants by cooperating with societies in foreign countries.

Presentation of the Poster Awards. From left: Minori Furukawa, Kenichi Kitahara, Prof. Masahiro Sakata (conference chair, University of Shizuoka), Hashimoto, Kohki Takaguchi, Hiromitsu Urakami (RSC Manager for Japan)

The Environmental Science journals were proud to sponsor four Poster Awards at the meeting. We would like to congratulate the following winners:

 

Environmental Science: Processes & Impacts Poster Award

Kohki Takaguchi

”Effects of PCB-exposure on thyroid hormone homeostasis of dogs and cats”

 

Environmental Science: Processes & Impacts Poster Award

Minori Furukawa

“Alternative Flame Retardants in House Dust Collected from Residential Houses and Kindergartens”

 

Environmental Science: Nano Poster Award

Fumi Hashimoto

“A Structural Elucidation Method of Constitutional Isomer by Collision Cross Section Analysis”

 

Environmental Science: Water Research & Technology Poster Award

Kenichi Kitahara

“Plastics in Commercial Products, Sewage Sludge and Environmental Samples Collected from Coastal and Deep-Sea Waters: Possible Transfer of Plastics from Terrestrial to Marine Environments”

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23rd International Symposium on Environmental Biogeochemistry

23rd International Symposium on Environmental Biogeochemistry (ISEB23), Palm Cove, Australia on 25-29th September 2017, hosted by the International Society for Environmental Biogeochemistry.

The Symposium brings together environmental scientists with a diverse range of interests in an intimate setting which encourages close interactions and exchange of information. A major attraction of the ISEB Symposia are their broad, cross-disciplinary coverage and single theme format. Attendance is typically 150 people.

The theme of this years symposium is “From cells to Earth scale processes: traversing the breadth of temporal and spatial scales in biogeochemistry” and includes sessions on:

  • Biogeochemistry of mined/industrial environments and impacts of resource extraction
  • Frontier techniques in environmental biogeochemistry and microbiology (e.g. –omics)
  • Aquatic and terrestrial microbiology including studies on extreme environments
  • Impacts of pollutants on ecosystems and their remediation
  • Biological interactions and transformations of metallic and organic contaminants in the environment
  • Soil, water and landscape processes (including atmospheric fluxes/interactions)
  • Microbe-mineral-organic matter interactions
  • Marine and coastal biogeochemistry (special focus on tropical coastal systems e.g. reefs)
  • Biogeochemical cycling of major (C, N, P, S) and minor elements – methods, applications, fundamental and applied studies

Key Dates:

Abstract deadline: 31st May 2017

Early Bird Registration: 28th July 2017

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