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Estefania Llaneza Garcia's blog

First field sampling! (Tambien en Español!)

     Our first round of fieldwork has been completed!  Last week all stars aligned for us and, after some copious rain earlier in October, we enjoyed some beautiful, sunny, dry days… and so did the phytoplankton in the Columbia River.

On the hills of sound research.... (TAMBIEN EN ESPAñOL)

Our work on the accumulation of emerging contaminants by phytoplankton in the Columbia River stems from previous research performed by the US Geological Survey (USGS) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

You can learn more about their research by following the links below (yes, their work was featured by OPB!). Enjoy!

September 2012 -

Tracer experiments with field samples (Tambien en Español)

 To determine whether bioconcentration of BPA and NP by phytoplankton may occur under field conditions in the Columbia River, we collected water samples at Beaver Army Terminal (with the help of the US Geological Survey team). We brought the samples back to the lab and filtered them through a mesh that excludes cells larger than 300μm, to exclude most zooplankton and keep our phytoplankton cells. We transferred these samples to glass Erlenmeyer flasks and added BPA to three of the flasks and NP to three other flasks (both BPA and NP were tagged with the isotope Carbon 13).

Bioconcentration Experiments part I - Lab cultures (tambien en Español)

        The picture on the left shows Chlorella vulgaris and Asterionella formosa cultures growing in our cold room. Two different    contaminant experiments are taking place in these flasks. In one of them we have added the plasticizer Bisphenol A (BPA) to the growth medium and in the other one we have added the detergent by-product 4-para-Nonylphenol (NP).

SATURDAY ACADEMY FUN! (Tambien en Español...)

The River Rescue class hosted at the Institute Environmental Health is heading towards its fifth week this coming Saturday. So far, we have discussed the following topics:

1) Freshwater ecological principles, using the Columbia River as our model system

2) Current threats to freshwater ecosystems, with a focus on chemical pollution

3) Water sampling and processing techniques, including hands on experience in the field and the lab


QUICK LAYOUT AND DESCRIPTION OF THE PROJECT: So, how exactly are we going to address the question behind our project: do riverine phytoplankton accumulate emerging contaminants in the Lower Columbia River? We will use a combination of laboratory experiments and fieldwork. I will go into more experimental detail in the upcoming blogs. For now here is a brief description of our goals and methods:

WHY THIS BLOG? (Tambien en Epañol...)

WHY THIS BLOG? The objective of this blog is two-folded. On one hand, it will serve as platform to disseminate the findings of my dissertation project (more on this later!) and, on the other hand, it will serve as an outreach tool and link between scientific research and the general public. This blog is being posted in both English and Spanish as a way to broaden and diversify our audience. This blog will be also used as a learning and attitude assessment tool in the upcoming Saturday Academy Class “River Rescue: Riverine Ecology”.

NEW BLOG! Investigating the occurrence and transport pathways of emerging contaminants in the Lower Columbia River food web. Tambien en Español!

BLOG DESCRIPTION: Stay up to date on the current topic of emerging contaminants. Have you heard about them? These contaminants are pharmaceuticals and personal care products humans utilize in our daily lives. As we eventually excrete medications out of our body, or as we throw old shampoo, hand lotions, or expired medications into the trash, we introduce into the environment thousands of synthetic chemical compounds whose effect on the environment is largely unknown.

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