Mercyhurst receives EPA grant

Mercyhurst College Assistant Professor of biology Steven Mauro, Ph.D., recently helped the college earn a $250,000 grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

He and a team of Mercyhurst students have researched contaminants in Presque Isle State Park’s recreational waters since 2006. The grant will enable such research to continue.

“Over the course of the last five years, 26 students have done summer research projects,” Mauro said.

A major portion of the sizable grant is used to pay student salaries and purchase equipment the students need to conduct their research. The remainder of the money goes to giving the students opportunities to present their research at scientific meetings.

“We do the research, but at the end of our process, we submit our data to the health professionals, and we provide suggestions on where contaminants might be coming from based on the data that we have,” Mauro said.

During the water testing, Mauro said they look for pharmaceuticals that people may have flushed down the toilet along with agricultural contamination and with Fluoxetine, the active ingredient in anti-depressants.

Once the student researchers find the likely source of the contaminants, health officials use the research results to prevent that source from further accessing the waste treatment system.


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