This month in EPA research: Algal blooms, citizen science, baby foxes, and more

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August 2016
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Collaborating with Local Communities to Measure Air Pollution

Managing air pollution is a big job, but it can be made easier when the whole community gets involved. We call it citizen science, where people without a background in research can use scientific tools to address problems in their environment. To support this fast-growing field, EPA’s Science to Achieve Results (STAR) program is funding six grants to evaluate how effective low-cost, portable air sensors are when used in communities. Read more about the grants in the blog Collaborating with Local Communities to Measure Air Pollution.

Sunscreen by pool Sunscreen and Sun Safety: Just One Piece of the Story

It’s not surprising that sunscreens are detected in pool water (after all, some is bound to wash off when we take a dip), but certain sunscreens have also been widely detected in our ecosystems and in our wastewater. So how is our sunscreen ending up in our environment and what are the impacts? Find out in the blog Sunscreen and Sun Safety: Just One Piece of the Story.

Fox kits Foxes and Ecosystem Services at Western Ecology Division

Late this spring, a self-operated wildlife camera captured several photos of adult gray foxes carrying food items from surrounding wild lands onto the grounds of EPA’s Western Ecology Division Laboratory in Corvallis, Oregon. Find out what they were up to (and see more adorable pictures of the fox kits!) in the blog Foxes and Ecosystem Services at Western Ecology Division.

Children playing outside Investing in our Children’s Futures

To protect children from environmental threats and help them live healthier lives, EPA and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences created the Children’s Environmental Health and Disease Prevention Research Centers (Children’s Centers). Read about the five new Children’s Center grants in the blog Investing in our Children’s Futures.

Satellite image of algal bloom at lake st. claire Algal Blooms

Are you wondering why that water is green? It’s algae! EPA’s Wayne Cascio and Elizabeth Hilborn explain the environmental conditions that drive algal blooms and their health effects in the blog Why is the Beach Green?

algae The Northeast Cyanobacteria Monitoring Program

As cyanobacteria blooms continue to increase, EPA strives to create and improve methods for bloom prediction, monitoring, and management. The Northeast Cyanobacteria Monitoring Program will help generate region-wide data on bloom frequencies, cyanobacteria concentrations, and spatial distribution through three coordinated projects. To learn more about the program read the blog The Northeast Cyanobacteria Monitoring Program: One Program, Three Opportunities for You To Get Involved!

wildfire Let’s Talk About Wildfire Smoke and Health

On Monday, August 22, EPA participated in a Twitter chat about wildfire smoke and health. EPA research cardiologist Dr. Wayne Cascio and health effects scientist Susan Stone, along with experts from the U.S. Forest Service and the Centers for Disease Control, participated in the chat. Check out the hashtag ‪#‎WildfireSmoke (external) to see what was discussed, and get more details in the blog Let’s Talk About Wildfire Smoke and Health.

Signing of the Chickasaw MOU EPA and the Chickasaw Nation

Earlier this month in Ada, Oklahoma, EPA’s Robert S. Kerr Environmental Research Center hosted the 50th Anniversary dedication of the Center. A highlight of the celebration included the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between EPA’s groundwater remediation and ecosystem restoration scientists and the Chickasaw Nation, a federally recognized American Indian Tribal Nation located in Oklahoma. Learn more about the research agreement in the blog EPA and the Chickasaw Nation: Working Together to Ensure Long-Term Sustainability and Quality of our Water.

Grasslands with mountains in the background 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 (external link) in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Read more about it in the blog From Grasslands to Forests, Nitrogen Impacts all Ecosystems.

A team installing a living shoreline 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.

Meet the Researcher!

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

Rebecca Dodder Meet EPA Physical Scientist Dr. Rebecca Dodder!

Dr. Dodder recently received the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers for her innovative approach to evaluating current and emerging environmental challenges and opportunities related to energy production and use in the United States. As part of the recognition, Dr. Dodder was invited to visit the White House and hear from President Obama. Read about the experience in her blog Scientists vs. Rockstars, then read her Researchers at Work profile.

Endalkachew Sahle-Demessie Meet EPA Chemical and Environmental Engineer Endalkachew Sahle-Demessie!

Dr. Sahle-Demessie works on various projects, including nanomaterials and water resources, in EPA’s National Risk Management Research Laboratory. Read more about his research.

Ken Fritz Meet EPA Research Ecologist Ken Fritz!

Dr. Fritz works in EPA’s National Exposure Research Laboratory where he investigates stream ecosystems, including ones that are dry at times. He works to supply the research that will inform policy and decisions that affect aquatic ecosystems. Read more.

Upcoming Events: Get Involved and Learn More!

Interested in getting involved or learning more? Try to catch one of the following webinars or events going on in September.

Check out our Events page for even more!

Microphones at a panel meeting STAR Tribal Grantee Progress Review Meeting

Tuesday, September 20, 9:00AM ET through Wednesday, September 21, 5:00PM ET

At EPA’s Science to Achieve Results (STAR) Tribal Grantee Progress Review Meeting, EPA will receive research progress updates from the grantees awarded under the 2013 Request for Applications, Science for Sustainable and Healthy Tribes. EPA researchers will also share their work and present dynamic tools that can be applied to improve tribal health and wellbeing. Grantees, EPA, and other partners will discuss opportunities for future solicitations, collaboration and cross-linkages in efforts to improve tribal health and wellbeing research. Learn more about this meeting.

Computational toxicology Computational Toxicology Communities of Practice

Thursday, September 22, 11:00AM-12:00PM ET, Research Triangle Park, NC (remote participation available)

EPA’s Computational Toxicology Communities of Practice is composed of hundreds of stakeholders from over 50 public and private sector organizations who have an interest in using advances in computational toxicology and exposure science to evaluate the safety of chemicals. The Communities of Practice is open to the public. Monthly webinars are held at EPA’s RTP campus, on the fourth Thursday of the month from 11am-Noon EST/EDT, and remote participation is available.

water tower Small Drinking Water Systems Webinar

Tuesday, September 27, 2:00-3:00PM ET

This monthly webinar series provides a forum for EPA to communicate directly with state personnel and other drinking water and wastewater small systems professionals, which allows EPA to provide training and foster collaboration and dissemination of information. September’s webinar is about approaches to technology approval.

Photo of a finger touching a computer chip EPA Tools and Resources Webinar Series: I-WASTE

Wednesday, September 28, 3:00-4:00PM ET

EPA’s Office of Research and Development (ORD) hosts a Tools and Resources webinar the third Wednesday of each month to share our research, demonstrate tools, and seek input from our partners. These webinars are geared for representatives of state environment and health agencies, tribes, local governments, communities, and others interested in learning about EPA tools and resources available to help inform decision making. September’s webinar is about the Incident Waste Assessment & Tonnage Estimator (I-WASTE). Learn more, and register here.

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