A conversation about SARS-CoV-2 with Prof. Krista Wigginton and Prof. Tamar Kohn

A conversation about SARS-CoV-2 with Prof. Krista Wigginton and Prof. Tamar Kohn

Left to Right: Kris McNeill, Krista Wigginton and Tamar Kohn

Kristopher McNeill

Profs. Wigginton and Kohn joined Kris McNeill for a teleconference to discuss SARS-CoV-2. All three are working from home, Wigginton in Palo Alto (on sabbatical at Stanford), Kohn in Bern, and McNeill in Zurich. Prof. Wigginton is an Associate Professor of Environmental Engineering at the University of Michigan and Prof. Kohn is a Professor of Environmental Engineering at EPFL. Both are experts on the inactivation of viruses. The interview took place on Sunday, April 5, 2020.

Kris: What do we know about this virus and what is the closest analog that we know the most about?

Krista: It’s an enveloped single-stranded RNA virus. Influenza is probably the one we know the most about that is similar. SARS-CoV-1 is, of course, more similar, but it’s hard to work with in the lab. We and others have been doing work with mouse coronavirus, and that’s a close analogue. The human SARS-CoV-1, SARS-CoV-2, and MERS are in the beta-corona virus genus, and mouse coronavirus is also in the beta genus.

Kris: How did you start with working with mouse coronavirus. Were you thinking about getting ahead of the next SARS outbreak or was it motivated more by the lack of data on enveloped viruses.

Krista: A bit of both. When I was writing my CAREER proposal, I was doing some reading about SARS-CoV-1 and MERS was also in the news, and I was trying to figure out if there was a role that environmental engineers could play. And there seemed to be. There was the case of the SARS outbreak in the Amoy Gardens apartment complex in Hong Kong. The general thought in that case was that sewage going through the buildings was mixing with the air system and aerosolized virus from sewage was being transported around the complex. And that’s a bit unusual. These enveloped respiratory viruses, like influenza and RSV, are not usually excreted in feces. You find viral RNA, but not usually infective viruses. So, if that is how SARS-CoV-1 was being transmitted, that is really rare.

Kris: Is there any evidence of this transmission pathway with the new one, SARS-CoV-2?

Krista: There are a lot of reports of people looking for this and failing to find it, including the Nature paper that came out on Thursday (Apr 2). The only one I know that found infective SARS-CoV-2 in feces was a non-peer-reviewed study from the Chinese CDC. It seems it was easier to find evidence for a fecal transmission route for SARS-CoV-1.

Tamar: For SARS-CoV-1, they did find they did find the virus can replicate in intestinal enterocytes. But no one thinks that the gut is the primary infection pathway. These are respiratory viruses.

Kris: What’s your take on why SARS-CoV-2 is worse than SARS-CoV-1.

Tamar: It’s not. In terms of mortality, SARS-CoV-1 is worse.

Krista: And that’s the problem. With the first SARS, you knew when someone was infected. There is no way someone was infected and was just walking around. It was more serious.

Tamar: With SARS-CoV-2 you have mildly symptomatic people in society transmitting the virus. It takes something like a week for the more serious symptoms to appear. During that first week, there seems to be a lot of spreading.

Kris: You are virus scientists in a pandemic. Is your behavior different from the rest of us?

Krista: I’m less worried about fomites than the general public. I’m not worried about getting the virus from cardboard boxes or packages from the grocery store. I have friends who are wiping everything down, but I’m not.

Tamar: I’m not either. If I haven’t ever gotten norovirus from the grocery store, I’m not worried about this one. Norovirus is a hell of a lot tougher and it’s shed in higher numbers.

Krista: Yeah, I’m not very worried about food and surfaces. Maybe some high touch areas are a concern, but not boxes at the store. And, can I say that people are putting a little too much trust in gloves.

Tamar: But gloves do help keep you from touching your face.

Kris: What kind of pandemic would cause you to worry about that route of transmission.

Krista: A gastrointestinal virus, a norovirus pandemic!

Tamar: That would be terrible.

Kris: You both study virus inactivation. How hard would you expect it be to inactivate SARS-CoV-2? Is there anything unusual about it?

Krista: It is a little unusual in that it has a relatively large genome for an RNA virus.

Kris: And larger genomes correspond with faster UV-inactivation. Is that right?

Krista: Yes, that’s right.

Tamar: It’s wimpy. It should be inactivated easily unless it is protected in some way by the matrix it is in, as Krista knows well. She’s been looking at masks.

Kris: Is that right? You are working on masks?

Krista: Yes, Michigan is a hot spot right now and is supposed to peak next week. Like many places, we have a shortage of PPE. Several students in my group are helping the hospital try to figure out how to recycle the N95 masks. We are putting viruses on masks and then testing various ways to inactivate them. I don’t know how translatable these results will be for other places because we are optimizing treatments based on what is available in the hospital in Ann Arbor.

Kris: What viruses are you using?

Krista: The commonly used bacteriophages, MS2 and Phi6, which is the model enveloped virus. We are also using a special influenza that cultures quickly and has a luciferase readout. And we are using a mouse coronavirus, but that is very slow to culture.

Kris: Where is that project now?

Krista: We’ve identified some methods that are effective at inactivating the viruses and at the same time, do not affect the integrity of the masks. The hospital is using our virus inactivation data to decide on how to move forward with a N95 recycling program.

Kris: What about your lab, Tamar?

Tamar: We are doing the same thing that a lot of labs are doing right now, which is looking for the virus in wastewater. Frankly, there’s a lot of talk and not many results yet. Virtual workshops, lots of one-page articles going up, networks and platforms being formed, webinars, you name it. But what we are all shooting for is developing an early warning tool. There’s just not much real data yet. To be honest, even if it works exactly as we hope, it’s not clear that a government would actually use the early warning that we would get from monitoring the wastewater system. We saw very slow responses from governments when faced with thousands of actual sick people. I’m not sure they’ll listen to more abstract results, literally from the sewer. That said, I think having a way to monitor viral load will be helpful in gauging the effectiveness of various mitigation measures. In any case, it will take some time before this tool will be available. Maybe it could help society respond to a second wave, but it won’t be ready to help us with this one.

Kris: Do we monitor for other viruses in wastewater?

Krista: Polio is an example.

Tamar: They monitor for polio in sewage in many countries. I only know of one case where it was successful in finding polio without clinical cases. It was in Israel and it was a Bedouin town where polio was first detected. [Science Translational Medicine 2017, 9, eaaf6786. DOI: 10.1126/scitrnalmed.aaf6786.] So, monitoring sewage can be useful, but what we are seeing now with the current crisis is that just having warning is not enough. You also need the political will to take action when you have warning. I have the feeling that we are overselling what sewage monitoring can do.

Krista: It might be more effective to swab high touch surfaces around town and look for the emergence of virus there. But on the topic of working with sewage to detect viruses, there are new guidelines from the US CDC that require BSL-3 PPE.

Kris: That seems potentially overly strict. Why are they doing that?

Krista: I think people at CDC are worried about the safety of concentrating viruses from wastewater.

Kris: Do they know we already work with it?

Krista: I think they do? But the potential for SARS-CoV-2 viruses to be present has them worried. There’s a lot of evidence that the virus RNA is excreted in feces, but not much evidence that infective viruses are excreted in feces at significant levels.

Kris: You are virus scientists in a pandemic. Is your behavior different from the rest of us?

Krista: I’m less worried about fomites than the general public. I’m not worried about getting the virus from cardboard boxes or packages from the grocery store. I have friends who are wiping everything down, but I’m not.

Tamar: I’m not either. If I haven’t ever gotten norovirus from the grocery store, I’m not worried about this one. Norovirus is a hell of a lot tougher and it’s shed in higher numbers.

Krista: Yeah, I’m not very worried about food and surfaces. Maybe some high touch areas are a concern, but not boxes at the store. And, can I say that people are putting a little too much trust in gloves.

Tamar: But gloves do help keep you from touching your face.

Kris: What kind of pandemic would cause you to worry about that route of transmission.

Krista: A gastrointestinal virus, a norovirus pandemic!

Tamar: That would be terrible.

Kris: You two have been working with viruses for a long time and now suddenly we are all talking about viruses. When this crisis hit, were you thinking ‘finally, it’s my time to shine!’?

Krista: Oh no, I much preferred when the pandemic was a potential future scenario that I could talk about in the first paragraph of my papers or at the start of my talks.

Tamar: Environmental engineers can do a few things that are helpful, but doing science in a pandemic is challenging, because everyone is so rushed that it lowers the quality of the work. But, yes, we can contribute a few things. The mask study that Krista is doing is a good example and translating what we know about aerosol transmission of influenza to SARS-CoV-2 is another. And sewage surveillance is great, though I’m not sure we need quite as many groups working on it as currently are.

Krista: What happens is everyone rushes to the answer the same questions. We saw it with the Ebola outbreak. Everyone focuses in on Ebola and then the crisis passes, and then Ebola research dies off for ten years. And the same thing will happen with SARS. And by chasing research on these very specific viruses, we miss the opportunity to prepare for the next one. If we zoom out a little bit and focus on viruses as a whole in a sustained manner, it would help us for both this one and the next one.

Tamar: Our community is not so cut-throat as some others and that is an opportunity. There is no reason why we need to rush to get a paper out in two weeks. Our community will still welcome the paper if it takes a bit longer to get out. We can slow down a bit and do better science.

Krista: One thing that is nice about what is happening right now is that there is more transparency than usual. Like with the mask work we are involved with, there is a network of universities that is sharing results and protocols, and that is helping to minimize overlap and redundancy.

Kris: Will all of this focused attention on SARS-CoV-2 help us understand influenza transmission better?

Tamar: I think it goes the other way around. The fact that we have had groups working on droplet and aerosol transmission of influenza, which is experimentally difficult to do, means that there was a research base ready when this crisis came. The flu research helps the coronavirus research more than the other way around.

Krista: I agree with that, but coronavirus does bring fresh eyes to virus research, and that will help.

Tamar: Yes, that’s right. And I think there are areas that we have not really delved into yet that this situation has shined light on. For example, there is an interesting question about the interaction between air pollution and susceptibility to this respiratory virus. Environmental engineers are well positioned to study this.

Kris: Thanks for the time, Krista and Tamar. Stay healthy and take care!

 

 

 

 

 

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Environmental Science: Processes & Impacts Collections

Environmental Science: Processes & Impacts (ESPI) is the home for high-impact research that advances our understanding of environmental chemistry in natural matrices. Here, we’ve brought together all of our latest Article Collections, Themed Issues, and Editor’s Choice collections to enable you to easily navigate to content most relevant to you. We hope you enjoy reading the papers in these collections!

Ongoing Collections:

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Editors’ Choice Collections: 

 

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Latest HOT, Review and Open Access content from ESPI

We are delighted to share with you a hand-picked selection of papers recently published in Environmental Science: Processes & Impacts (ESPI).

HOT papers – as recommended by our Editors & Reviewers

Interactions of emerging contaminants with model colloidal microplastics, C60 fullerene, and natural organic matter – effect of surface functional group and adsorbate properties
Tyler Williams et al

Biodegradation kinetics testing of two hydrophobic UVCBs – potential for substrate toxicity supports testing at low concentrations
Rikke Hammershøj et al

An emerging mobile air pollution source: outdoor plastic liner manufacturing sites discharge VOCs into urban and rural areas
Seyedeh Mahboobeh Teimouri Sendesi et al

Read more HOT papers at rsc.li/espi-hot

Reviews & Perspectives – timely overviews of key topics in environmental science

A review of aerosol chemistry in Asia: insights from aerosol mass spectrometer measurements
Wei Zhou et al

Passive air sampling for semi-volatile organic chemicals (Open Access)
Frank Wania and Chubashini Shunthirasingham

Effects of aging and weathering on immobilization of trace metals/metalloids in soils amended with biochar
Yuchi Zhong et al

Read more Reviews at rsc.li/espi-reviews

Open Access – read for free!

An overview of the uses of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS)
Juliane Glüge et al

The importance of aromaticity to describe the interactions of organic matter with carbonaceous materials depends on molecular weight and sorbent geometry
Stephanie Castan et al

The ecological half-life of radiocesium in surficial bottom sediments of five ponds in Fukushima based on in situ measurements with plastic scintillation fibers
Estiner Walusungu Katengeza et al

Read more Open Access content at rsc.li/espi-oa

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We hope you enjoy reading these papers, and we welcome your future submissions to the journal.

Submit to Environmental Science: Processes & Impacts

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Cryosphere chemistry – Themed Collection in ESPI

We are delighted to highlight some of the latest cryosphere chemistry studies published in Environmental Science: Processes & Impacts.

This themed collection, Guest Edited by Rose Cory and Kerri Pratt (University of Michigan), showcases studies on chemical processes in sea ice, snow, glaciers, ice sheets and permafrost soils. This includes atmospheric chemistry (atmospheric aerosols and trace gases) biogeochemistry (chemical weathering and organic matter chemistry) as well as laboratory, field and modeling studies.

"This ESPI collection includes results of recent laboratory and field studies of the interactions between the snow, ice and overlying atmosphere" - Guest Editor Kerri Pratt, University of Michigan

Atmospheric chemistry is understudied in the Cryosphere, cold regions of the Earth that are seasonally or continually covered with snow and ice, yet these regions represent areas of significant climate change. Snow and sea ice are sources and sinks of atmospheric trace gases and aerosols, with impacts on surface albedo, cloud formation and properties, air quality, and meltwater. The critical need to understand air-ice interactions in these cold regions is exemplified by the emerging international activity The Cryosphere and Atmospheric Chemistry (CATCH), supported by IGAC and SOLAS, which aims to facilitate atmospheric chemistry research within the international community, with a focus on natural processes specific to cold regions of the Earth. This ESPI collection includes results of recent laboratory and field studies of the interactions between the snow, ice, and overlying atmosphere, described by Kirpes et al., Ruggeri et al., Hullar et al., and Hara et al.

An outstanding CATCH question surrounds the locations, kinetics, and mechanisms of reactions on and within snow grains, as this knowledge is required to understand and simulate air-ice interactions. Hullar et al. present a laboratory study of the photodegradation of guaiacol in solution, ice, and at the air-ice interface, showing that photodegradation rate is faster within liquid-like regions in ice and especially at the air-ice interface and therefore cannot be approximated by bulk solutions. This work further demonstrates the uniqueness of reactions occurring on snow and ice surfaces in cold regions and the need for future study, both in the field and through fundamental laboratory studies.

Photodecay of guaiacol is faster in ice, and even more rapid on ice, than in aqueous solution
Ted Hullar et al.
https://doi.org/10.1039/D0EM00242A

The cryosphere contains about twice the amount of carbon found in our atmosphere, in the form of organic carbon locked away in a deep freeze in permafrost soils (perennially frozen ground).  As permafrost soils warm and thaw, the organic carbon in these soils decomposes into the greenhouse gases carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4).  Release of CO2 and CH4 from thawed permafrost soils will raise global temperatures beyond what our fossil-fuel-based carbon emissions would do on their own.  For example, current models predict a loss of permafrost that could raise global temperatures by an additional 0.3 to 0.4 °C by 2100; a feedback called Arctic Amplification of climate change.

"The papers in this special issue help reduce uncertainties by studying processes that decompose permafrost organic carbon to CO2 or CH4" - Guest Editor Rose Cory, University of Michigan

However, there is much uncertainty in these models because the processes that control the decomposition of permafrost organic carbon to CO2 and CH4 remain poorly understood. The papers in this collection help to reduce uncertainties by studying processes that decompose permafrost organic carbon to CO2 or CH4.  For example, in thawed soils, microbially-mediated redox reactions convert organic carbon to CO2 or CH4.  These redox reactions depend on the availability of electron donors and acceptors in soils, which in turn, vary by landscape position and hydrology (Philben et al.).  Redox reactions in permafrost soils also control the availability of nutrients like phosphorous, that in turn will help regulate the potential of these soils to store or release carbon as they thaw (Herndon et al.).

As permafrost soils thaw, organic carbon in the soil dissolves and flows into the many lakes across the Arctic landscape.  As evidence mounts that arctic lakes are strong sources of greenhouse gases from the cryosphere to the atmosphere, more questions emerge about the timing and drivers of these gas fluxes.  The paper by Eugster et al. is the first to show that while gas fluxes vary during the ice-free season and across years, no large episodic events associated with spring ice-off or other mixing events occurred over 6 years of continuous eddy flux measurements in a deep arctic lake. However, that may change in the future, as more permafrost organic carbon flows into lakes.

Gagne et al. showed that permafrost organic carbon is rapidly converted to CO2 once exposed to sunlight.  Exposure of permafrost organic carbon to sunlight in lakes is inevitable as permafrost soils thaw and export this ancient carbon into increasingly ice-free waters.  And, Ward and Cory show that our concerns don’t stop with the complete oxidation to CO2.  Soil organic carbon is also partially oxidized by sunlight, which in turn controls its susceptibility to complete oxidation to CO2.

Composition and photo-reactivity of organic matter from permafrost soils and surface waters in interior Alaska
Kristin R. Gagné et al.
https://doi.org/10.1039/D0EM00097C

Finally, the interactions between permafrost soils and receiving lakes are featured in a synthesis paper by Burpee and Saros, highlighting key knowledge gaps on the feedbacks between loss of the cryosphere on land and in water.

With permafrost loss already under way across the Arctic, we need more research in this area of cryosphere chemistry to predict the Arctic Amplification of climate change and impacts on society. A 2016 Scientific American article by John Berger summarized it best: “The faster these gases emerge from the permafrost, the less carbon human society can release and still keep global temperatures from rising far above the aspirational temperature targets set by the Paris accord.”

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Latest HOT, Review and Open Access content from ESPI

 

 

 

 

We are delighted to share with you a hand-picked selection of papers recently published in Environmental Science: Processes & Impacts (ESPI).

HOT papers – as recommended by our referees

A global atmospheric chemistry model for the fate and transport of PFCAs and their precursors
Colin P. Thackray et al.

Trichloroacetyl chloride, CCl3COCl, as an alternative Cl atom precursor for laboratory use and determination of Cl atom rate coefficients for n-CH2=CH(CH2)xCN (x = 3–4)
Sofie Askjær Hass et al.

Geochemical and isotope analysis of produced water from the Utica/Point Pleasant Shale, Appalachian Basin
T.L. Tasker et al.

Read more HOT papers at rsc.li/espi-hot

Reviews & Perspectives – timely overviews of key topics in environmental science

Quantifying the efficiency and selectivity of organohalide dechlorination by zerovalent iron
Feng He and Paul G. Tratnyek et al.

Potential risks of antibiotic resistant bacteria and genes in bioremediation of petroleum hydrocarbon contaminated soils
Maria S. Kuyukina et al.

How the 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill reshaped our understanding of crude oil photochemical weathering at sea: a past, present, and future perspective
Collin P. Ward and Edward B. Overton

Read more Reviews at rsc.li/espi-reviews

Open Access – read for free!

A geospatially resolved database of hydraulic fracturing wells for chemical transformation assessment
Andrew J. Sumner and Desiree L. Plata

Comparing non-targeted chemical persistence assessed using an unspiked OECD 309 test to field measurements
Zhe Li and Michael S. McLachlan

The importance of aromaticity to describe the interactions of organic matter with carbonaceous materials depends on molecular weight and sorbent geometry
Thilo Hofmann et al.

Read more Open Access content at rsc.li/espi-oa

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About ESPI
Published on a not-for-profit basis by the Royal Society of Chemistry and led by Editor-in-Chief Professor Kris McNeill (ETH Zurich), ESPI publishes high quality papers in all areas of the environmental chemical sciences, including chemistry of the air, water, soil and sediment. With a team of expert Associate Editors providing a first decision on submissions in just 38 days*, ESPI is committed to providing you with efficient and attentive service throughout the publication process. Furthermore, our flexible article types with no page or word count restrictions allow you to disseminate your research in a format that best suits you. More about the journal can be found at rsc.li/espi

Meet the ESPI team

 

 

 

 

*Average time from receipt to first decision for peer reviewed manuscripts in 2019

Find out more about the advantages of publishing in a Royal Society of Chemistry journal including our Open Access options

ESPI is complemented by our sister journals, Environmental Science: Nano, Environmental Science: Water Research & Technology and Environmental Science: Atmospheres; find out more about the these journals at rsc.li/envsci

 

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Why publish with ESPI?

 

 

 

 

Environmental Science: Processes & Impacts (ESPI) publishes high quality papers in all areas of the environmental chemical sciences, including chemistry of the air, water, soil and sediment.

Submit to ESPI and benefit from:

  • Broad readership: our global audience provides maximum exposure for your work
  • Rapid times to publication – our average time to decision for peer-reviewed manuscripts is just 38 days†
  • Expert Associate Editors (Marianne Glasius, Helen Hsu-Kim, Ed Kolodziej, Matthew MacLeod, Desiree Plata and Paul Tratnyek) handling the peer review of submissions
  • Flexible articles types with no word count restrictions or colour charges
  • Green and Gold Open Access options
  • Publicity on twitter for featured articles
  • Not-for-profit publisher: The Royal Society of Chemistry is committed to supporting the global scientific community by investing into our charitable activities, such as education, outreach, and science policy
  • Opportunities for early-career researchers to be featured in our Emerging Investigator Series

 

 

 

Discover the latest high-quality research published in ESPI by browsing our Best Papers of 2019

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†Average time from receipt to first decision for peer reviewed manuscripts in Q1 2020

ESPI is complemented by our sister journals, Environmental Science: Nano, and Environmental Science: Water Research & Technology; find out more about the these journals at rsc.li/envsci

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Halogenated (semi)volatile organic compounds – Themed Issue in ESPI

In March 2020 Environmental Science: Processes & Impacts published a special issue on Halogenated (semi)volatile organic compounds (“X(S)VOCs”).

Guest Edited by Elizabeth Edwards (University of Toronto), Lucy Carpenter (University of York), Sarah Blossom (University Arkansas Medical Science) and ESPI Associate Editor Paul Tratnyek (Oregon Health & Science University) this Themed Issue features research and reviews on chlorinated solvents, their metabolites, disinfection byproducts, and their environmental occurrence, fate, effects, and remediation. You can read the Editorial introducing this issue here.

 

 

 

 

 

Read the full issue at rsc.li/halocarbons

Below is a small selection of some of the articles featured in this issue:

Retrospective on microbial transformations of halogenated organics
L. McCarty, C. S. Criddle and T. M. Vogel

Placenta as a target of trichloroethylene toxicity
Elana R. Elkin, Sean M. Harris, Anthony L. Su, Lawrence H. Lash and Rita Loch-Caruso

Quantifying the efficiency and selectivity of organohalide dechlorination by zerovalent iron
Feng He, Li Gong, Dimin Fan, Paul G. Tratnyek and Gregory V. Lowry

Natural and anthropogenic sources of bromoform and dibromomethane in the oceanographic and biogeochemical regime of the subtropical North East Atlantic
Melina Mehlmann, Birgit Quack, Elliot Atlas, Helmke Hepach and Susann Tegtmeier

Diverse dechlorinators and dechlorination genes enriched through amendment of chlorinated natural organic matter fractions
Hanna R. Temme and Paige J. Novak

Summation of disinfection by-product CHO cell relative toxicity indices: sampling bias, uncertainty, and a path forward
Elizabeth McKenna, Kyle A. Thompson, Lizbeth Taylor-Edmonds, Daniel L. McCurry and David Hanigan

Comparison of modeled and measured indoor air trichloroethene (TCE) concentrations at a vapor intrusion site: influence of wind, temperature, and building characteristics
Elham Shirazi, Gregory S. Hawk, Chase W. Holton, Arnold J. Stromberg and Kelly G. Pennell

We hope that you enjoy reading the great research featured in this issue.

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Emerging Investigator Series: Garrett McKay

Dr. Garrett McKay joined the Zachary Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering at Texas A&M University in September 2019 as an assistant professor. Dr. McKay’s research focuses on the fundamental chemistry occurring in natural and engineered systems, including aquatic photochemistry, dissolved organic matter characterization, and treatment of emerging contaminants.  After graduating with his BA and MS in chemistry at California State University Long Beach, Dr. McKay completed a PhD in Environmental Engineering in 2017 at CU Boulder. Dr. McKay is looking forward to contributing to the growing Environmental Engineering program at A&M by sharing his passion for chemistry with undergraduate and graduate students through his teaching and research.

Read Garrett McKay’s Emerging Investigator Series article “Critical review of photophysical models for the optical and photochemical properties of dissolved organic matter” and read more about his in the interview below:

Your recent Emerging Investigator Series paper focuses on a Critical review of photophysical models for the optical and photochemical properties of dissolved organic matter. How has your research evolved from your first article to this most recent article?

During my PhD, my research mostly focused on the formation of reactive oxidants during light absorption by organic matter, which is one way that organic matter dissipates the energy of absorbed photons.  As our studies progressed in this area, they revealed that there was a need to investigate how it is that organic matter absorbs and emits light in the first place. 

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

We have just started synthesizing some quinone-hydroquinone complexes to test whether these model systems exhibit optical properties similar to dissolved organic matter.  We are looking forward to getting back in the lab, when it is safe to do so due to SARS-CoV-2, and performing some reactions on these complexes.

In your opinion, what are the most important questions to be asked/answered in this field of research?

The three-dimensional structure of organic matter is really important for a lot of processes, not just light absorption and photochemistry, such as pollutant sorption.  Knowing more specific details about organic matter’s three-dimensional structure (e.g., hydrophobic surface area, whether the structure is static or dynamic) will help address some of the knowledge gaps identified in this review.

What do you find most challenging about your research?

The biggest challenge is the complexity of dissolved organic matter, which really hinders obtaining a molecule-by-molecule understanding of the material.  Fortunately, this complexity is also fascinating to me.

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

The International Humic Substances Society biennial conference is scheduled for August in Estes Park, CO in August, which I am planning to attend.  I am usually at the spring ACS meeting each year to participate in the Aquatic Photochemistry session in the Division of Environmental Chemistry.

How do you spend your spare time?

I enjoy spending time with my wife and playing with our 10 month old son. When I have spare time I try to get out for a run or round of golf.

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

Potentially an attorney.  I think I would like the analytical nature of their work.

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

Invest the time to develop a fundamental understanding of what you are studying, whether it is a new experimental or analytical technique, fundamental concept, or data analysis tool.  With the pressure of getting research “done,” it can be tempting to gloss over details.  Taking the time dig deeper is beneficial in the long-run.

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Outstanding Reviewers for Environmental Science: Processes & Impacts in 2019

We would like to highlight the Outstanding Reviewers for Environmental Science: Processes & Impacts in 2019, as selected by the editorial team, for their significant contribution to the journal. The reviewers have been chosen based on the number, timeliness and quality of the reports completed over the last 12 months.

We would like to say a big thank you to those individuals listed here as well as to all of the reviewers that have supported the journal. Each Outstanding Reviewer will receive a certificate to give recognition for their significant contribution.

Jonathan Benskin, Stockholm University, ORCID: 0000-0001-5940-637X
Delphine Farmer, Colorado State University, ORCID: 0000-0002-6470-9970
Paul Helm, University of Toronto Scarborough, ORCID: 0000-0002-7462-4217
Gerrad Jones, Oregon State University, ORCID: 0000-0002-1529-9506
Tara Kahan, University of Saskatchewan, ORCID: 0000-0001-5074-1155
Anne Soerensen, Stockholm University, ORCID: 0000-0002-8490-8600
Roxana Sühring, Stockholm University, ORCID: 0000-0002-7285-8044
Patricia Tcaciuc, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, ORCID: 0000-0001-7881-2314
Zhanyun Wang, ETH Zürich, ORCID: 0000-0001-9914-7659
Cora Young, York University, ORCID: 0000-0002-6908-5829

We would also like to thank the Environmental Science: Processes & Impacts board and the Environmental Nanotechnology community for their continued support of the journal, as authors, reviewers and readers.

If you would like to become a reviewer for our journal, just email us with details of your research interests and an up-to-date CV or résumé.  You can find more details in our author and reviewer resource centre

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Latest HOT, Review and Open Access content from ESPI

 

 

 

 

We are delighted to share with you a hand-picked selection of papers recently published in Environmental Science: Processes & Impacts (ESPI).

HOT papers – as recommended by our referees

Evidence for a kinetically controlled burying mechanism for growth of high viscosity secondary organic aerosol
Barbara J. Finlayson-Pitts et al

Predicting Cr(VI) adsorption on soils: the role of the competition of soil organic matter
Zhenqing Shi et al

Risk-based water quality thresholds for coliphages in surface waters: effect of temperature and contamination aging
Alexandria B. Boehm

Read more HOT papers at rsc.li/espi-hot

Reviews & Perspectives – timely overviews of key topics in environmental science

The concept of essential use for determining when uses of PFASs can be phased out
Ian T. Cousins et al

Photochemistry of iron in aquatic environments
Caroline Schmidt et al

Positive matrix factorization on source apportionment for typical pollutants in different environmental media: a review
Fengwen Wang et al

Read more Reviews at rsc.li/espi-reviews

Open Access – read for free!

Comprehensive screening of quaternary ammonium surfactants and ionic liquids in wastewater effluents and lake sediments
Sarah G. Pati and William A. Arnold

Emerging investigator series: use of behavioural endpoints in the regulation of chemicals
Marlene Ågerstrand et al

The molecular interactions of organic compounds with tire crumb materials differ substantially from those with other microplastics
Thorsten Hüffer, Maren Wehrhahn and Thilo Hofmann

Read more Open Access content at rsc.li/espi-oa

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We hope you enjoy reading these papers, and we welcome your future submissions to the journal.

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13th International Symposium on Biogeochemistry of Wetlands

The 13th International Symposium on Biogeochemistry of Wetlands will take place on March 22-25 2021, at the Hilton Baton Rouge Capitol Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA.

Wetland biogeochemistry is dynamic and involves cycling or exchange or flux of materials between living and non-living components of an ecosystem. Biogeochemistry is an interdisciplinary science which includes the study of interactive biological, geological and chemical processes regulating the fate and transport of nutrients and contaminants in soil, water and atmospheric components of an ecosystem. Biogeochemistry also provides a framework to integrate physical, chemical and biological processes functioning in an ecosystem at various spatial and temporal scales. This international symposium provides a framework for scientists to share technical information on various topics related to coupled biogeochemical cycling of macro-elements and associated organic and inorganic contaminants. The goal is to improve our understanding of the role wetlands perform in regulating and mitigating impacts of global climate change and sea level rise.

Registration Information

Gov’t, Corporate & Non-Profit Attendees
Early Bird Discounted Registration $525 
Regular Reduced Registration $575 
Late Registration $625 
To register, visit the conference website here.

To find out more about the conference and register, visit the conference website: https://conference.ifas.ufl.edu/biogeo2021/

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