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Scientists at Work: Paul Mayer, Ph.D.

2012 December 1

Dr Paul MayerEPA ecologist Paul Mayer, Ph.D. works in EPA’s Groundwater and Ecosystem Restoration division where he studies riparian zones (the area along rivers and streams where the habitats are influenced by both the land and water) and stream restoration. Dr. Mayer has also worked as a biologist for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

How does your science matter?

My research examines ecosystem restoration projects—looking at how such efforts also restore various kinds of “ecosystem functions,” such as absorbing nutrients and preventing erosion. More specifically, my colleagues and I have been looking at stream restoration in urban and agricultural ecosystems. Stream restoration uses various approaches to reconstruct or redesign streams that have been heavily impacted by urbanization, agricultural practices, or past land use.

With stream restoration, we’re looking at nutrient uptake (2 pp, 276K), especially nitrogen. Excess nitrogen is one of the ecological stressors that EPA is most interested in because it can cause human health and ecological problems. High levels of nitrate nitrogen in drinking water prevent your body from taking in oxygen efficiently. My work is helping us learn how to “supercharge ecosystems” and enhance their ability to process excess nitrogen.

When did you first know you wanted to pursue science?

I knew I wanted to be a scientist when I was five years-old. My earliest memory is standing in the front yard of my house with my mom and being fascinated by all the birds flying around us. I asked her what kind of birds they were. I knew then, even though I didn’t yet know what a scientist was, that I wanted to know more about the world around me.

Keep reading the interview with Dr. Paul Mayer by clicking here.

Read more Scientists at Work profiles.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action.

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4 Responses leave one →
  1. Master Melvin M. Lusterio permalink
    December 1, 2012

    The Good Force be with you!

    Excellent work, Dr. Paul Mayer! Keep it up!

    Live forever and prosper!

  2. Arman.- permalink
    December 1, 2012

    The Scientists : The Sources Of Inspiration.-

    Sometimes they are crying to see the fault of a human who’s wrong to interpret natural law and enthusiasm to journey and to discover a new natural phenomenon in this planet,in these universes.But,if stagnate,
    the animals should bark, the plants should be fade and the stars shall completely vanish…….

  3. diane ashton-caucci permalink
    December 2, 2012

    As a student of our evironment i am very concerned about what is happening to a 10+ acre parcel of land our family owns. it’s located in a high growth commercial zone but is partically ‘fresh water’ wetlands and is marked with yellow flags where the wetlands deliniations are. Our vacant property is currently 75% covered with water from the parking lot run-off and overflowing water from the storm water drainage basins that were not constructed properly almost 20 yrs ago. Local officials are aware of the problem and have just now announced they will be forcing the developer to make improvements because the water now flows from out property onto the busiest corridor in our county and presents a real safety hazard. I have been pleading with local and county officials for three years to please do something about this situation since the safety hazard has been more of a concern to our family than just the lost commercial property opportunities that we’ve been robbed of.
    I am not sure how far the twp officials will go in making the developer do repairs, but if they don’t have them clean up the dirty water that is sitting dormant on our property, it will evenutually perculate down into the Cohansey Aquafier and contaminate all the water south of this piece of land as it travel toward the Great Egg Harbor River. I don’t know where Mr. Mayer is located, but I would like to know if there is a way to contact him regarding my concerns.
    Thank you!

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