This Week in EPA Science

By Kacey Fitzpatrickto-go coffee cup with research recap graphic

You know what would go great with that pumpkin spice latte? Reading about the latest in EPA science!

Indoor Chemical Exposure Research
Many cleaning products, personal care products, pesticides, furnishings, and electronics contain chemicals known as semivolatile organic compounds (SVOCs). The compounds are released slowly into the air and can attach to surfaces or airborne particles, allowing them to enter the body by inhalation, ingestion, or absorption through the skin.  Because SVOCs have been associated with negative health effects, EPA is funding research to learn more about their exposure and how we can reduce it. Learn more about this research in the blog Indoor Chemical Exposure: Novel Research for the 21st Century.

Empowering a Community with Scientific Knowledge
EPA researchers are working with a small community in Puerto Rico to install and maintain low-cost air monitoring devices. These devices will help community members analyze local pollutant levels and better understand the local environmental conditions. Learn more about the project in the blog Air Sensors in Puerto Rico: Empowering a Community with Scientific Knowledge.

Navigating Towards a More Sustainable Future
With the help of a smartphone, navigating from point A to point B is easier than ever. EPA is bringing that kind of convenience to environmental decision making with the release of Community-Focused Exposure Risk and Screening Tool (C-FERST), an online mapping tool. The tool provides access to resources that can help communities and decision makers learn more about their local environmental issues, compare conditions in their community with their county and state averages, and explore exposure and risk reduction options. Learn more about the tool in the blog C-FERST: A New Tool to Help Communities Navigate toward a Healthier, More Sustainable Future.

EPA Researchers at Work
EPA scientist Joachim Pleil is the EPA “breath guy” and was involved with the founding of the International Association of Breath Research and the Journal of Breath Research. He started off developing methods for measuring volatile organic carcinogens in air, and then progressed to linking chemical biomarkers to absorption, metabolism and elimination by analyzing human blood, breath, and urine. Meet EPA Scientist Joachim Pleil!

About the Author: Kacey Fitzpatrick is a writer working with the science communication team in EPA’s Office of Research and Development. She is a regular contributor to It All Starts with Science and the founding writer of “The Research Recap.”

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content, or remove EPA’s identity as the author. If you do make substantive changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to specific content on a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.

EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.

This Week in EPA Science

By Kacey Fitzpatrickresearch_recap_250

Heading back to school? Get a little science refresher by checking out some of our research! Here’s the latest at EPA.

We’re Gonna Need a Bigger Shore
Sengekontacket Pond—the same pond where Jaws was filmed 41 years ago—and the adjacent salt marsh habitat at Felix Neck Wildlife Sanctuary are threatened by both impaired water quality and negative environmental changes, which have eroded almost ten feet of marsh in recent years. EPA teamed up with a several other organization to build a living shoreline as a natural approach to salt marsh restoration. Find out more about living shorelines in the blog The Use of Living Shorelines.

From Grasslands to Forests, Nitrogen Impacts all Ecosystems
To date, most U.S. biodiversity studies on the effects of nitrogen deposition had been focused on individual sites, where fertilizer was applied and small plots were monitored through time. That’s why EPA researcher Chris Clark and a team of scientists from EPA and collaborators are exploring the effects of nitrogen deposition in a first-of-its-kind study focused on multiple ecosystems across the nation. The study was recently published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Read more about it in the blog From Grasslands to Forests, Nitrogen Impacts all Ecosystems.

Researchers at Work
Research engineer Michael Tryby develops and evaluates engineering processes for EPA tools that are used to protect public health and the environment. He currently works on our Stormwater Management Model, which is a widely-used tool that supports Green Infrastructure initiatives around the Nation and the world. Meet EPA Research Engineer Michael Tryby!

EPA Water Research Paper Earns Top Rank
A journal article by EPA’s Tom Sorg was ranked #1 on the Top 20 list of published papers on arsenic science in the journal Water Research. Read the journal article Arsenic species in drinking water wells in the USA with high arsenic concentrations.

Presidential Environmental Education Awards
EPA and the White House Council on Environmental Quality recognized 18 teachers and 63 students from across the country for their outstanding contributions to environmental education and stewardship. Read more about the recent awards ceremony in this press release.

Need more science? Check out some of these upcoming events at EPA.

About the Author: Kacey Fitzpatrick is a writer working with the science communication team in EPA’s Office of Research and Development. She is a regular contributor to It All Starts with Science and the founding writer of “The Research Recap.”

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content, or remove EPA’s identity as the author. If you do make substantive changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to specific content on a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.

EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.

This Week in EPA Science

By Kacey Fitzpatrickresearch_recap_GI_shark

Need a break from Shark Week? Check out the latest in EPA science.

Goats Help EPA Protect Pollinators
EPA’s research facility in Narragansett, Rhode Island recently enlisted the help of a highly skilled landscaping team to create more pollinator-friendly habitat on the premises: a herd of goats! Learn more about ‘goatscaping’ in the blog It’s a Lawn Mower! It’s a Weed Whacker! No…it’s a Herd of Goats!

EPA Researchers at Work
Meet EPA Researcher Richard Judson! Dr. Judson develops computer models and databases to help predict toxicological effects of environmental chemicals at EPA’s National Center for Computational Toxicology. Read more about his research in this Researchers at Work profile. And meet more of our scientists on our Researchers at Work page.

EPA’s Net Zero Program
Researchers with EPA’s Net Zero Program are working with the U.S. Army, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Kansas Unified School District 475, and others to test and demonstrate green infrastructure technology, such as permeable pavement, at Fort Riley in Kansas. Read more about the program in the Science Matters article Leaving the Gray Behind.

Toxic Substances Control Act
Last Wednesday, President Obama signed a bill to reform the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), the first update to any environmental statute in 20 years. Read EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy’s blog, and the President’s remarks at the signing, during which he mentioned research being done on zebrafish.

White House Impact Report on Science, Technology, and Innovation
Last week the White House issued a list of 100 examples of leadership in building U.S. capacity in science, technology, and innovation. Some of EPA’s work was highlighted—our use of challenges and incentives,  citizen science and crowdsourcing efforts, the Wildfire Science and Technology Task Force Final Report, and the Harmful Algal Blooms and Hypoxia Comprehensive Research Plan.

Shout Out to EPA’s Small Business Innovation Research Program
Before Ecovative became a leading biomaterials company, they were just two recent college graduates with a big idea—to use mushrooms to grow an environmentally-friendly and sustainable replacement for Styrofoam. Early in their business, they were awarded with one of EPA’s Small Business Innovation Research Program contracts. Gavin McIntyre, co-founder and Chief Scientist at Ecovative Design, recently wrote the letter thanking all their supporters along the way. Read the letter: Investing in the Growth of our Collective Future.

Green Infrastructure Research
EPA has been helping the city of Philadelphia advance innovative urban stormwater control. Researchers with EPA’s Science to Achieve Results program are working with the Philadelphia Water Department to place sensors in the city’s rain gardens, tree trenches, and other green infrastructure sites to monitor and measure soil and water changes. The Philadelphia Inquirer recently highlighted the research in the article Philadelphia Keeps Stormwater out of Sewers to Protect Rivers.

About the Author: Kacey Fitzpatrick is a writer working with the science communication team in EPA’s Office of Research and Development. She is a regular contributor to It All Starts with Science and the founding writer of “The Research Recap.”

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content, or remove EPA’s identity as the author. If you do make substantive changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to specific content on a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.

EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.

This Week in EPA Science

By Kacey Fitzpatrickresearch_recap_250

Rain got you stuck inside all weekend? Well here’s something to pass the time until those May flowers finally show up. Check out the latest in EPA science.

EPA’s P3 Student Design Competition
Did you miss our P3 (People, Prosperity and the Planet) student design competition at this year’s USA National Science & Engineering Festival? Well don’t worry—EPA’s Christina Burchette recapped the event and some of the innovative projects on display in her blog EPA’s P3 Student Design Competition: Where Science and Creative Genius Meet.

Supporting the Next Generation of Scientists
EPA announced the winner of its Patrick H. Hurd Sustainability Award today at the Intel International Science & Engineering festival. High School Student Alexis D’Alessandro was honored with the award for her project that is providing clean drinking water affordably to a community in Kenya. Learn more in this press release.

EPA Researchers at Work
Meet EPA Ecologist Steve Paulsen! Steve works on National Aquatic Resource Surveys –a collaborative program designed to assess the quality of the nation’s coastal waters, lakes and reservoirs, rivers and streams, and wetlands. Read his profile to learn why he thinks of his science as a combination of accounting and exploration.

Meet EPA IT Specialist Linda Harwell! Linda’s love for the ocean started at a very early age. As a Navy brat, Linda moved around a lot but she never lived far from a coast. Even now, working at EPA’s research laboratory in Gulf Breeze, Linda gets to see the ocean right outside her office every day.

Learn more about what it’s like to be a scientist at EPA in our Researchers at Work profiles.

Upcoming Events
Need more science? Here are some public meetings and webinars EPA is hosting this month.

About the Author: Kacey Fitzpatrick is a student contractor and writer working with the science communication team in EPA’s Office of Research and Development. She is a regular contributor to It All Starts with Science and the founding writer of “The Research Recap.”

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content, or remove EPA’s identity as the author. If you do make substantive changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to specific content on a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.

EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.

Women’s History Month: Inspiration

By Kacey Fitzpatrick

The work our researchers do here at EPA is so inspiring! So in honor of Women’s History Month, I asked a few of them about who inspires them. Here’s what they said.

Some are inspired by well-known researchers or other women you may have already heard about.

Melanie Klein

Melanie Klein

I am inspired by Melanie Klein who created a therapeutic technique known as “play therapy”.  She continued to advance the theory and technique of psychoanalysis while coping with personal tragedies and depression throughout her life.  And, not having an official academic degree didn’t stop her passion in conducting research.
Cecilia Tan, Research Physical Scientist

 

 

 

Jane Goodall

Jane Goodal

I have been inspired by many strong, vibrant women, all of whom share a passion for their work and for making the world a better place, no matter their field. These women include Maya Angelou, Rosalind Franklin, Jane Goodall, Sandra Day O’Connor, Frances Oldham Kelsey, Toni Morrison, and many, many more.
Toby Schonfeld, Human Subjects Research Review Official

 

Mary Walton.  Mary was a pioneer in reducing air pollution during the Industrial Revolution.  In 1879, Mary patented a device that minimized the smoke that was pouring into the air. It was designed to deflect the emissions into water tanks. Later she would build a model train set to cut down on the clanging of the trolleys.  On February 8, 1891, after putting her invention under the struts that supported the city trains, she received a patent for her work. She gave the city some peace of mind by selling the rights of her patent to the New York City Metropolitan railroad.
—Stephanie Warhol, Program Analyst

 

Rachel Carson

Rachel Carson

 

No one person, however, the collective efforts of tireless conservationists such as Rachel Carson, Dian Fosse, and Jane Goodall were certainly inspirational.
—Janice Dye, Research Biologist

 

 

 

 

Marie Curie

Marie Curie

Marie Curie. Her leadership and achievements at a time when women were not regarded in the scientific profession will always be inspirational.
–Samantha Jones, Toxicologist

 

 

 

 

Mary Anning

Mary Anning

I’m inspired by people who follow what they love doing even if it goes against convention. In the early 19th Century, Mary Anning was a self-taught fossil hunter. She found and excavated ichthyosaur fossils, long-necked plesiosaurs, a pterodactyl, and hundreds of other fossils that helped scientists to draw a picture of the marine world 200 million to 140 million years ago during the Jurassic.
Felicia Barnett, Environmental Engineer

 

 

Susan Solomon

Susan Solomon

 

I am inspired by Susan Solomon whose work played a role in understanding the ozone hole and role of CFCs.
Havala Pye, Research Physical Scientist

 

 

 

 

One of my favorite authors is Barbara Kingsolver, an ecologist and evolutionary biologist by training who got her start writing for science journals. Her work is inspiring to me as she tells stories filled with themes of biodiversity, ecology, and an appreciation for the natural world.
–Megan Fleming, Biologist

Maria Mitchell

Maria Mitchell

Maria Mitchell learned to observe the stars from her father, who taught his children to use a sextant and reflecting telescope. At 17, she had already begun her own school for girls, teaching them science and math. But Mitchell rocketed to the forefront of American astronomy in 1847 when she spotted a blurry streak—a comet—through her telescope. She was honored around the world, earning a medal from the king of Denmark, and became the first woman to be elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Diana Bless, Chemical Engineer

Maria Mitchell, who became world famous for discovering a new comet, because she was truly a pioneer: first female U.S. astronomer, first woman elected to the American Academy of Arts & Science, and then to the American Association for the Advancement of Science, first professor at Vassar College, first internationally recognized female scientist.
Valerie Zartarian, Environmental Engineer

 

 

Nancy Hopkins

Nancy Hopkins

There are loads of female scientists that inspire me. One that jumps to mind is Nancy Hopkins, a Professor Emeritus at MIT. Her career has spanned multiple fields and models. Dr. Hopkins applied her early experience with DNA and RNA viruses to create a strategy that, for the first time, enabled insertional mutagenesis in a vertebrate model. This forward genetic approach identified hundreds of genes that are developmentally required in zebrafish. She was also a strong mentor, launching the careers of an impressive number of trainees who have gone on to study the genetic underpinnings of development, behavior, and predisposition to cancer. I also admire Dr. Hopkins because she took risks. She changed fields many time throughout her career. She also walked out of Lawrence Summers infamous speech where he suggested that innate differences in the sexes might account for the lack of women in high-powered scientific positions. Based on her exceptional research record and history of advocating for women in science, I thought it was fitting to honor her here for Women’s History Month.
–Tamara Tal, Biologist

 

Some are inspired by family.

My mother.  Before she retired, she was a middle school science teacher, and shared her love of all things science with me.
Nicolle Tulve, Research Physical Scientist

Rachelle Duvall with her nieces

Rachelle Duvall with her nieces

 

 

 

I’m currently inspired by my “budding” scientists – my nieces! Their passion and excitement reminds me of why I wanted to be a scientist.
Rachelle Duvall, Research Physical Scientist

 

 

 

My mother – who devoted her life to science education.
Tina Bahadori, Exposure Scientist and National Program Director

 

Some are inspired by professors, teachers, or mentors they’ve had.

In undergrad at the University of Idaho, I had a female professor, Dr. Margrit von Braun, who was the chair of the committee that developed and implemented the Environmental Science Program, and also taught my hazardous waste assessment class. Not only was she a wonderful teacher, she was a great mentor and I ended up working with her for 2 year after I got my BS degree. She and her husband started a small consulting firm in Moscow, Idaho in 1984 to address environmental contamination and resulting human health problems in the Pacific Northwest. At the University of Idaho, she eventually made her way to Dean of the College of Graduate and Interdisciplinary Studies. Since her retirement in 2013, she’s been working with international communities to mitigate environmental pollution. She is truly an inspiration!
—Lindsay Stanek, Physical Scientist

Mrs. Fink, my high school chemistry teacher is one of my heroes, as she got me interested in chemistry and started down the right career path. She got a big acknowledgement in my PhD thesis too!
—Elin Ulrich, Research Chemist

While working in EPA’s Science to Achieve Results grants program for several years, I have met many female scientists who inspire me. However, my post-doctoral adviser Barbara Finlayson-Pitts remains as one of the most impressive people I’ve ever met. She is an incredibly intelligent scientist, who tackles atmospheric science questions with creativity using a wide variety of analytical techniques. She is always ready to share her knowledge or consider a problem, while emanating positive energy and enthusiasm in her love of science.
Sherri Hunt, Physical Scientist

Dr. Linda Brubaker, a paleoecologist at the University of Washington, was my first teacher there and on my PhD committee.  She was the only woman in the College of Forestry for much of the time I was there, so she definitely inspired me.
Jana Compton, Research Ecologist

 

And a lot are inspired by their EPA colleagues.

I’m inspired by the people I work with on a daily basis, both female and male. There are a lot of people within EPA dedicated to doing good science in support of protecting human health and the environment.
–Susan Burden, Physical Scientist

My female colleagues at EPA inspire me every day. My seasoned colleagues helped set environmental science and policy precedents that have and will continued to protect our environment. My mid-level peers have the benefit of learning from these women and continuing their legacy.
—Larke Williams, Environmental Engineer

I am inspired everyday by the female scientists that I work with, here in Cincinnati. They are some of the brightest and hard working women I have ever met, and they make me want to be a better researcher.
—Jill Hoelle, Biological Science Lab Tech

I’ve had a number of wonderful female mentors at EPA – it’s hard to pick just one.  I was lucky to start my career working for Dr. Alice Stark of the New York State Health Department, who worked in Region 5 for a brief period.  Alice was the epidemiologist for the Superfund site at Love Canal and her dedication to public service, science and science communication has influenced me throughout my career.
—Carole Braverman, Regional Science Liaison

One of my peers at EPA inspires me every day – Kelly Witter, an environmental engineer, has devoted her career to educational outreach in our surrounding community.  She is an amazing force for science and inspiring the next generation!
Gayle Hagler, Environmental Engineer

And EPA engineer Robyn Conmy, who is inspired by her family and a love of the ocean, is featured in this video.

About the Author: Kacey Fitzpatrick is a student contractor and writer working with the science communication team in EPA’s Office of Research and Development.

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content, or remove EPA’s identity as the author. If you do make substantive changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to specific content on a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.

EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.