Blog Education OSCAR

PAID Undergraduate Research Position!

Paid Summer Research for Undergraduates

Have you been following last summer’s OSCAR research on micropollutants in the Potomac? Are you an undergrad who would you love a PAID summer research experience like that? There are TEN positions open!

Apply now at

Watch the video below to see how much last year’s OSCAR students loved their experience!


Are Potomac Fish on Drugs?

OSCAR students Lisa McAnulty and Tabitha King talks about their summer 2017 research. Led by principal investigators Amy Fowler and Kim de Mutsert, the Summer Team Project looked at the effects of micropollutants on the Potomac River watershed. Projects were funded by the Students as Scholars at Mason as well as the Patriot Green Fund, and the videos were produced by graduate student, Chelsea Gray, thanks to the Virginia Sea Grant.


Are We Effecting Fishes’ Hormones?

Written by: Michael Cagle

As a Master’s student, I am looking into the presence of endocrine disruptors in the Potomac River. The endocrine system regulates virtually every activity in animals through the use of chemical compounds called hormones, and plays a vital role in the reproductive system. Specifically, I am looking at compounds that interfere with the normal functioning of the reproductive system by mimicking or disrupting the naturally occurring hormones testosterone and estrogen.


Water: A Fish’s Pharmacy

Written by: Tabitha King

Here you can see Lisa McAnulty and I weighing out sediment to begin the extraction stage of sample processing. We are and will be using an adaptation of a QuEChERS (Quick, Easy, Cheap, Effective, Rugged, Safe) method to process both our sediment and fish tissue samples.

What if I told you fish could potentially be ingesting caffeine, pain medicine, and other pharmaceuticals on a daily basis? You may be wondering how this is possible since fish do not regularly visit the pharmacy to pick up their prescriptions. However, there is a growing concern amongst scientists and other stakeholders that the very medications we are taking (even common allergy relievers) are not being removed during wastewater treatment. Current regulations placed on wastewater treatment plants do not require the removal of such substances. To make matters worse, if a treatment plant was to take on the task of removing pharmaceuticals from their customers’ sewage, there are new compounds made on a daily basis. Each chemical would require a unique form of effective removal to ensure at least a majority is removed before treated water is discharged into local waterways. It is currently not known at what amounts of these medications are making their way into our local waterways and accumulating in aquatic organisms and sediment.


One Fish, Two Fish, Prozac in the Blue Fish

By: Lisa McAnulty

I once heard someone say that if you brought a glass down to the Potomac River and took a long swig of its water, you would have swallowed a small dose of antidepressants. While drinking Potomac River water is highly discouraged, there may be a hint of truth to this statement. Thousands of pharmaceuticals and personal care products are on the market, and many inevitably make their way into rivers and streams through wastewater discharge or other sources. While we might not necessarily be chugging river water on a daily basis, many organisms call the Potomac River home and can’t escape the barrage of these so-called emerging contaminants. However, “emerging contaminants” is a misleading term for pharmaceuticals and personal care products, which have been in our waters for many years. It’s only recently that scientists developed methods sensitive enough to precisely measure trace quantities of these pollutants.