August 22, 2006
Contact: Sarah Nelson, 581-3454
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
UMaine research on mercury pollution featured at international meeting
Madison, WI – Eleven different UMaine scientists, students and alumni who study various aspects of mercury pollution presented their work at the Eighth International Conference on Mercury as a Global Pollutant earlier this month.
Approximately 1,200 people attended the conference, the largest meeting dedicated to mercury pollution ever in the world. The 11 UMaine presenters helped show the international scientific community that the University of Maine is at the forefront of research into the extent and effects of environmental mercury pollution.
Sarah J. Nelson of the Senator George J. Mitchell Center at the University of Maine gave an oral presentation about her research into winter mercury deposition and cycling at Acadia National Park. Nelson's dissertation work is evaluating the chemistry of snow in long-term research watersheds at the park. Her co-authors were Kenneth B. Johnson of the Mitchell Center, David Krabbenhoft from the U.S. Geological Survey in Middleton, Wisconsin, Cynthia Loftin from the Maine Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, and Kathleen Weathers from the Institute of Ecosystem Studies in Millbrook, NY.
Dianne Kopec, graduate student in the Department of Biological Sciences, presented her findings on mercury contamination of harbor seals in the Gulf of Maine. Kopec has looked at whether harbor seals preferentially prey on fish that are higher in mercury, which would contribute to the sharp rise in mercury biomagnification in seals and other top predators. Kopec collaborated with Adria Elskus of the USGS Maine Field Office and Department of Biological Sciences, Luke Whitman, a recent graduate of the Department of Biological Sciences, and Rebecca Van Beneden of the School of Marine Sciences and Biochemistry, Microbiology and Molecular Biology.
PhD candidate Karen Merritt and Aria Amirbahman of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering displayed a poster summarizing their work on mercury cycling in the Penobscot River estuary. Merritt's work is focusing on the part of the river that is contaminated downstream from the former Holtrachem plant in Orrington, ME. Dr. Amirbahman also led a platform presentation about mercury pollution across the United States with UMaine PhD alumnus Michael Bank, who is currently at the Harvard School of Public Health. Their talk was co-authored by UMaine alumnus Jeffrey Crocker, David Senn and James Shine from the Harvard School of Public Health, Edward Chesney and Nancy Rabalais from the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium, and Jennifer Jay of University of California-LA.