College of Agriculture & Natural Resources
Environmental Science & Technology

Environmental & Ecological Health

Environmental health is a broad and increasingly important field with wide ranging applications in the environmental science and public health fields. The field encompasses environmental factors and ecosystem functions that affect human health and the effects of human activities on the ecosystem products and services we depend on.

ENVIRONMENTAL & ECOLOGICAL HEALTH RESEARCHERS

Dr. Brian Needelman

William Bowerman
Professor
wbowerman@umd.edu

Dr. Brian Needelman

Daniel Fisher
Associate Professor
dfisher2@umd.edu 

Dr. Brian Needelman

Reginal Harrell
Professor
rharrell@umd.edu 

Michael Kearney
Professor
kearneym@umd.edu 

Dr. Brian Needelman

Paul Leisnham
Assistant Professor
leisnham@umd.edu 

Dr. Brian Needelman

Jennifer L. Murrow
Assistant Professor
wildlife@umd.edu 

Dr. Brian Needelman

Bob Tjaden
Professor
rtjaden@umd.edu

Dr. Brian Needelman

Lance Yonkos
Associate Professor
lyonkos@umd.edu 

 

 

CURRENT RESEARCH 

Watershed Diagnostics for Improved Adaption of Management Practices: Integrating Biophysical and Social Factors

The Chesapeake Bay has undergone considerable water quality degradation over the past 60 years. There has been little improvement in water quality with the focus of previous research and intervention on technological or social components alone. We propose a shift away from discipline-specific research and intervention towards an integrative research, extension, education approach that embraces both biophysical and social dimensions of pollution transport and Best Management Practice (BMP) adoption. We describe a multi-institutional inter-disciplinary project that will develop next-generation GIS-based assistive tools that integrate biophysical and social factors to target pollution hot spots and prescribe appropriate BMPs in urban and agriculture watersheds. It will use social research to evaluate stakeholder attitudes and behaviors towards watershed health and BMP adoption, and combine its results with biophysical research within a Diagnostic Decision Support System (DDSS) to strengthen the technical abilities of community, State, and Federal partners at precisely targeting effective BMPs. Community Based Participatory Research, social marketing, ecosystem-orientated education programs, and technology transfer will be applied in cooperative partnership with community associations and State officials in study watersheds to improve effective outreach strategies and lower BMP adoption thresholds so that greater advancements and actions can be made towards watershed sustainability.

Team: Shannon LaDeau, Dr. Paul Leisnham, Dr. Adel Shimohammadi, Hubert J, Montas, and Thomas Lee Hutson.

Funded by: EPA ($691,674), USDA-NIFA ($631,500)

Toxicity Testing of Ballast Water Treatments for MERC

The Maritime Environmental Resource Center (MERC) is a State of Maryland and US Maritime Administration initiative that provides test facilities, expertise, information, and decision making tools to address key environmental issues facing the maritime industry.  A primary focus is the evaluation of mechanical and/or chemical treatment systems at eliminating invasive species in ballast water.  Treatment systems are tested for shipboard effectiveness, feasibility, and safety on a purpose-built Mobile Test Platform. Those treatment systems that employ biocidal active substances (e.g., chlorination, ozonation, etc) require toxicity testing of treated ballast water prior to discharge to ensure no residual toxicity will harm aquatic biota in receiving environments.  

Team: Dr. Daniel Fisher and Dr. Lance Yonkos, of ENST, along with Mr. Greg Ziegler and Ms. Elizabeth Friedel of the Wye Research and Education Center.

Funded by:

The Effects of the Macondo Oil Spill on Coastal Ecosystems

The Macondo Oil Spill (also known as the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill) of April 2010 in the northern Gulf of Mexico was the largest oil spill to occur along the coasts of the United States in history. At least 4.4 x 106 barrels of oil were spilled, affecting over 66 linear km of shoreline in Mississippi Delta, one of the most important eco-regions in North America. Coastal marshes, fundamental and fragile ecosystems of the Delta that are being lost at a rate of 26 km2 per year, experienced extensive intrusion of oil from the Macondo Spill. Given the many stressors already affecting coastal marshes in the Mississippi Delta, the research project is part of $9 million grant for examining marsh impacts that is contributing a synoptic assessment of the oil impacts across Terrebonne Bay and Barataria Bay, the two principal areas of oil intrusion.

Satellite remote sensing – principally Landsat TM and MODIS – along with airborne sensor data like AVIRIS are being used to provide a long term framework for understanding impacts from the oil spill relative to the effects of hurricane, coastal restoration (e.g., freshwater diversions from the Mississippi River), and older human interventions like canal dredging. The post-oil spill changes also are being assessed to determine whether oil spill affected marshes are exhibiting differences in seasonal responses in green-up and dieback compared non-oiled marshes, and changes in above-ground biomass.

Team: Dr. Michael Kearney

Funded by: Louisiana University Marine Consortium ($425,070)

Fish in Peril

Aquatic toxicologist Dr. Lance Yonkos is sidestepping this disconnect by transferring the question from the field to the laboratory. By exposing hatchery-reared largemouth bass at various developmental stages to controlled levels of common regional pollutants, Yonkos aims to identify contaminants of particular concern and establish developmental windows of sensitivity. Initial investigations are already underway and include an undergraduate research group comprised of ENST students. Using poultry litter as the contaminant sourceidentified previously as estrogenic by Dr. Yonkos and colleagues–the team expects to demonstrate the utility of largemouth and smallmouth bass as model species for toxicological study and hopefully shed some light on the causes of intersex in regional fish.

Team: Dr. Lance Yonkos, Dr. Daniel Fisher

Funded by:

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