Dr. Laura Senier Returns to SRP for Guest Lecture

Dr. Laura Senier, M.P.H., Ph.D. will be returning to Brown as this month’s Superfund Seminar Series lecturer. Dr. Senier, as an assistant professor of sociology, anthropology and health sciences at Northeastern University focuses on the intersection of medical and sociological research with implementation and practice in communities.

Join us Friday, October 28, 2016 for for Brokering Environmental Justice: Community Health Partnerships in Three Milwaukee Neighborhoods: Environmental justice partnerships nationwide are redefining healthy communities as places where residents can not only be safe from environmental hazards but also can purchase nutritious foods, exercise in safe and attractive recreation spaces, and work in jobs that produce a family-supporting income. Activists advancing such a broad notion of environmental justice must reconcile the contradictory needs and interests of diverse stakeholders: residents, elected officials, regulatory agencies, and the business community. We study three Milwaukee neighborhoods that have sought to redevelop contaminated industrial land in pursuit of multiple goals: to foster economic revitalization, improve population health, preserve natural resources, and address environmental and social inequalities. In two of the three sites, we find that coalition brokers cultivated a sustainable development frame that was broad enough to unify diverse stakeholders and embedded that frame in the mission of a brokering organization. We attribute stalled redevelopment efforts in the third site in part to the lack of a coalition broker who could foreground the social justice concerns of marginalized communities. Our work highlights successful strategies and barriers in the formation of cross-movement coalitions for environmental justice, and how sensitive mobilization strategies must be to local context.

Lecture: Friday, October 28, 12:00 p.m., Brown University Alpert Medical School Building, 222 Richmond Street, Room 270.



Superfund Seminar Series Begins September 9

Dr. Joel Pedersen will be joining us for the first Superfund Seminar Series of the 2016-2017 season. Friday, September 9, 2016, Dr. Pedersen, professor of environmental organic and biophysical chemistry; behavior of organic chemicals, macromolecules and nanoparticles in terrestrial and aquatic environments at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, will lecture on Insights into Nanoparticle Interaction with Cell Surfaces from Model Systems. 

Dr. Pedersen’s talk will focus on how cell surfaces (cytoplasmic membranes, bacterial cell envelopes) serve as initial points of contact between cells and nanomaterials that have been either intentionally or inadvertently released into the environment. Mechanistic understanding of nanomaterial interaction with cell surfaces requires consideration of bnanoparticle surface chemistry and the chemical composition, physical properties, and lateral organization of cell surfaces. We have developed models for cell surfaces containing key molecular components to study in detail the processes and cell surface properties perturbed by interaction with specific ligand-nanoparticle combinations. We complement our experimental investigations with computational studies to provide further insight into processes at the nano-bio interface. We have found that phase-segregated domains, glycolipid species, and membrane proteins influence nanoparticle interaction with model cell surfaces. We will discuss our recent work demonstrating the importance of different lipid and non-lipid components of cell surfaces on their interaction with engineered nanoparticles.

The Pedersen research group focuses on environmental interfacial chemistry and studies interfacial processes affecting the behavior of nanoparticles, biomolecules, and organic molecules in terrestrial and aquatic environments.

Event details: Friday, September 9, 2016, noon, Barus and Holley, 184 Hope Street, Room 190, Providence, RI

Urban Pond Procession 2016: Celebrating Indigenous Culture and Urban Water

Dr. Christina Ergas, SRP State Liaison Postdoctoral Fellow, attended the Urban Pond Procession on May 14th. The theme for this year was “Celebrating Indigenous Culture and Urban Water.”
Loren Spears opened the procession with a Narragansett ceremonial blessing, and then folks marched away from Roosevelt Lake toward JT Owens Park with fish costumes, environmental signs and banners, rain sticks, and ornate lanterns. The procession marched to meet up with the Extraordinary Rendition Band (ERB) who then led the group with pulsing rythms. We marched first to Reservoir Elementary school and then to Mashapaug Pond where Thaun played the water drum and blessed the pond with cleansed water. Afterward, the ERB led everyone to JT Owens Park. There, the crowd ate food and watched a documentary about indigenous ties to the pond from a large floating screen that sat on the pond.
Brown SRP and UPP have a continuing partnership to education the community about the  Masapaug Pond watershed pollution and clean up. For more information and photos please visit the UPP’s facebook page. IMG_20160514_181106337IMG_20160514_191306345

9th Annual Urban Pond Procession

UPP Poster 2016-8-3 lt sm

Experience Mashapaug Pond in New Ways at the Annual Artist-Led Procession
Place-Based Celebration of Art, Culture, and History
Focus the year: Indigenous Culture and Urban Waterways

Free & Open to the Public  
Date: May 14, (Rain date May 15)
Time: 6-9 pm
Where:  Start at Roosevelt Lake behind the Casino in Roger Williams Park.
The 1.5 mile route ends at J T Owens Park, 350 Niantic Avenue, Providence. For shuttle service, park at J T Owens Park, ride the shuttle, (5:30 to 6:15 pm), to procession start. *

UPP Arts will host the 9th Annual Urban Pond Procession on May 14 in partnership with local artists, scientists, historians, schools, community members, and representatives of the Tomaquag Museum. Choreographed by Lisa Abbatomarco, the 2016 Procession will depart at 6:00 PM from Roosevelt Lake behind the casino in Roger Williams Park and travel to J T Owens Park on Mashapaug Pond where a ceremonial blessing by Tomaquag Museum representatives will open the celebration of this year’s theme, the Pond’s Indigenous Culture and Urban Waterways. The evening’s programming will include a variety show featuring student projects created to explore Mashapaug Pond’s cultural and environmental history.

Artist and UPP Arts founder and Executive Director, Holly Ewald will debut a new floating sculpture that doubles as a film screen by showing student films. Ewald’s work, Full Circle: Art As Reflection, was fabricated by The Steel Yard with support from the National Endowment for the Arts and the City of Providence Department of Art, Culture + Tourism. The installation will be on view at Mashapaug Pond through October 2016 and will be used for a film series through out the summer.

The annual Urban Pond Procession draws over 250 youth, families and other community members each year. This year’s participants include: Extraordinary Rendition Band, the Extraordinary Youth Ensemble, Big Nazo Puppets, Tomaquag Museum performers, What Cheer Brigade and Trinity Academy for the Performing Arts. Teaching artists include Kate Lacouture at Reservoir Avenue Elementary, Denali Tiller at Alvarez High School, Wanda Hopkins and Dawn Spears with 21st Century Learning Community in Cranston at Gladstone Elementary School & Bain Middle School.

Every year the procession focuses on a different theme to celebrate and build stewardship of Mashpaug Pond and the Lower Pawtuxet River Watershed with local residents, schools and elected officials. Mashapaug Pond was a settlement site for Indigenous People for centuries and many still recognize it as an important ancestral site. Loren Spears, Director of the Tomaquag Museum, is an advisor for all our arts-based school and public workshops.

About UPP Arts
The mission of UPP Arts is to engage artists and communities in public art-making for the purpose of celebrating and building stewardship of our shared environment.

Photo Opportunity: Indigenous blessing and performance at Mashapaug Pond Boating Center behind Save A Lot on Reservoir (7:15 pm) and finale performances w/film showing on floating screen (8 pm) J T Owens Park

* Directions to J T Owens for shuttle service: From north take Rte. 95 South to Elmwood Ave. exit, straight onto Roger Williams Ave., left on Reservoir Ave., bear right towards Rte. 10 north and bear right onto Niantic Ave.. J T Owens Park is on your right.

Holly Ewald, Executive Director, UPP Arts


April Seminar: Dr. Matthew Rand on Methylmercury Toxicity

Mark your calendars! April 8, 2016 at noon Dr. Matthew Rand, associate professor at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, will be speaking about the mechanisms of methylmercury toxicity at the Superfund Research Program’s Monthly Seminar Series. The lecture will be held in room 190 of Barus and Holley at Brown University (184 Hope Street).

A brief abstract of his lecture: Methylmercury (MeHg) is a ubiquitous and persistent toxicant in our environment that, with adequate exposure, irreversibly damages the developing nervous system. Since exposure to MeHg is an inevitable consequence of eating fish, understanding the relative risk of MeHg toxicity versus benefits of fish nutrients remains a priority public health issue.  To better define MeHg risk we have characterized MeHg tolerance and susceptibility traits in both people and fruit flies, with the goal of elucidating fundamental developmental, cellular and molecular pathways responsible for mediating MeHg toxicity.  Our findings demonstrate a remarkable variance in rates of metabolism of MeHg in people that also highlights a potential influence of the gut microbiome. With Drosophila, we have unveiled an unexpected role for myogenesis and muscle development as a target for MeHg disruption. Altogether, our studies broaden the understanding of the toxic potential of MeHg and contribute to a greater understanding of the risks in the context of exposures typically encountered by people today.

March Seminar: Dr. Stephanie Malin, Colorado State University

On Friday, March 11, 2016, Stephanie Malin, Ph.D., assistant professor of Sociology at Colorado State University, will present Western Wells and Well-Being: Community Impacts of Unconventional Oil and Gas Production in Colorado. Dr. Malin will provide overviews and preliminary results from two research projects on unconventional oil and gas (O&G) production, which she has led since 2014. The first project is a two-year, multi-community study funded by the National Institutes of Health NIEHS program. Dr. Malin is the lead social scientist on this innovative project, which involves mixed methods, including survey data collection, participant observation, in-depth interviews, and biomarker analysis. The study examines quality of life and stress impacts related to living in close proximity to unconventional O&G production, as well as public perceptions about the technology and related regulations. In the second study, funded by Colorado State University’s Water Center, she examined the (tip of the) food-energy-water nexus here in Colorado, focusing on the relationships between agricultural production, water markets and rights, and unconventional O&G production.

Join us for this event! Barus and Holley, room 190, 12:00-1:00 p.m.

February Seminar Series: Subsurface Fate and Transport of Poly- and Perfluoroalkyl Substances

Join us Friday, February 12, 2016 at noon in Barus and Holley room 190 for this month’s seminar series presented by Dr. Jennifer Guelfo. Dr. Guelfo joined the Brown Superfund Research Program Center this past December, as a State Agency Liaison Postdoctoral Fellow. She will share with us her research on “Subsurface Fate and Transport of Poly- and Perfluoroalkyl Substances.”

In recent years, poly- and perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) have faced increased regulatory scrutiny by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and several State environmental agencies.  These agencies are issuing water quality guidelines for some PFAS of less than 1 μg/L, yet there is still a need for a complete understanding of areas such as fate and transport that will allow agencies and responsible parties to achieve these standards.  PFAS are fluorinated surfactants with unique properties that have led to their use in a variety of consumer and industrial products including non-stick cookware, food paper packaging products, stain repellant sprays, and firefighting foams.  Because of this there is global low-level PFAS distribution, but elevated (e.g. mg/L) concentrations in groundwater have been measured near PFAS manufacturing facilities as well as fire training areas that have a history of repeat use of PFAS based firefighting foams.  PFAS based foams are typically applied to hydrocarbon fuel fires leading to mixed contaminant plumes at some training areas.  This study is a multi-scale investigation of PFAS fate and transport.  Batch sorption studies were used to understand equilibrium fate and transport potential in both PFAS only and mixed contaminant systems. Results were extended to 1-D column experiments to begin looking at PFAS transport in an advective scenario. Lastly, a field study of PFAS occurrence in soil and groundwater at a former fire training facility provided an opportunity to understand how lab results apply to the field and to gain initial insight into the biggest challenges still faced in understanding fate and transport of this unique class of compounds.


Seminar Series December: Next-Generation Nanomaterials

Join us Thursday, December 3, for a lecture from University of Wisconsin-Madison, professor Dr. Robert Hamers. The lecture will be in Barus and Holley room 190 at noon! Abstract:In recent years there has been an explosive growth in the use of nanomaterials in consumer products and commercial processes.  For example, electric vehicles use complex oxides such as LiNiMnCoO2  (“NMC”) in their cathodes, in amounts approaching 100 pounds per vehicle, raising potential for exposure during manufacture, use, and disposal.  Yet there is relatively little understanding of the behavior of these complex oxides materials in the environment. We have been investigating the interaction of complex oxides with Shewanella oneidensis (a soil bacterium) and Daphnia magna (water flea) as model systems for understanding the environmental impact of these materials. Our studies reveal that transformation of the nanoparticles occurs and plays an important role in subsequent biological response, but with significant differences between organisms.

Vapor Intrusion Workshop at AEHS Foundation

Dr. Eric Suuberg, leader of the Project 3 and the RTC, presented at the Association for Environmental Health and Sciences Foundation‘s 31st Annual International Conference on Soils, Sediments, Water and Energy. His specific workshop on  “Vapor Intrusion Assessment: Developments and Advances” focused on exposure limits, VOC transport, pathways, advances in sampling, transport modeling related to risk, and mitigation design.