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Macroinvertebrates and Micropollutants

OSCAR student Michael Rollins talks about his 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.

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What Can a Fish’s Diet Tell Us?

OSCAR student Sammi Alexander talks about her 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.

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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.

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Taking the Pulse of a Stream

Written by: Chelsea Gray

How do you tell the health of a river? This is a question that scientist all over the world struggle to answer. A common method for determining stream health is the Stream Bioassessment.

Damselfly
Damselflies lay their eggs in the water. Damselfly nymphs live under the water and are an example of the type of benthic macro-invertebrate found in Virginia streams.

What is a “Stream Bioassment”?

Because you can’t ask a stream how it’s feeling, we use indirect measures of health for an ecosystem. One way we do this for a stream is by identifying what types of organisms live there. In particular, we look at benthic macro-invertebrates, or the bugs that live in the stream bed.

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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.