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Update - 2013 Spring

Post tenure life

That about sums it up! I could go on-and-on about all that has, or more appropriately hasn’t been accomplished over the last year. However, I will take this time to highlight a new and unique course I’ve developed and I’m presently teaching to our majors entitled Environmental Forensics. Several of our students (perhaps some of you reading this) are employed as environmental consultants. There are also those of you that are employed in the petroleum field. Both disciplines require some knowledge of the behavior of organic substances in the environment, whether we are talking about oil or hydrocarbon pollution…..at some point, you just can’t keep calling natural and synthetic organic materials “stuff”!
The students in Environmental Forensics are developing basic skills about organic molecules and how they behave in the environment. What is particularly interesting about the class is that the students are learning the skills associated with “fingerprinting” environmental pollution. On a practical level, they’ll put that skill to use by trying to fingerprint the remains of the old Town Commons spill. By the way, you can still get a whiff of that little bit of history by crossing First Street going northbound to get over towards the boat ramp on the Tar. The students, who are an extremely engaging bunch, are making a vital local connection and learning that there is more to downtown Greenville than just eating and drinking. We even have guest speakers from NC DENR, the City of Greenville, and an environmental lawyer.

The grad students (shown in the blog entry below) are getting ready to fly the coop. Kim Scalise, having worked on air quality associated with the R/V Deepwater Horizon oil spill going on 3y now, promises me she will defend this semester. Recently married Katie Supler, (now Katie DelRosario) who is investigating pharmaceutical and personal care products in shallow septic systems, has started writing and is not far behind in finishing up. She’ll be looking for a job in the triangle area. Also finishing soon, if he survives the grueling lab work dealing with hydrofluoric acid, is Jeff Minnehan. Jeff is investigating the historical patterns of climate and black carbon burial in Pamlico Sound. Lastly, I’ve been sucked into a new project investigating the highly contentious field of potential meteorite impacts associated with the Younger Dryas Stadial. My new student Abigail Maiorana-Boutilier, is feverishly trying to juggle that project, along with the joys of first time motherhood, life as an undergraduate chemistry major, and part time work as a hostess at Starlite Cafe. Busy days indeed……