2011 - Authentic Research Projects for Undergraduates based on Groundwater Contamination Issues Related to Arsenic

Grant Award Year: 
Principal Investigator: 
Dr. Julian Tyson
Research Description: 
Professor Julian Tyson and a graduate research assistant will initiate a number of research projects during the summer that will be taken over by groups of undergraduates in the fall and subsequent semesters. The research projects will focus on aspects of contamination of groundwater with arsenic, specifically aspects related to the mechanism of contamination and possible remediation strategies. Experiments will be set up to allow students to study the oxidative dissolution of arsenical pyrite minerals, the exchange of surface bound arsenate by phosphate, and the reduction of both iron oxyhydroxides and arsenate by microorganisms. Students will also study the potential for remediation by surface adsorption onto metal oxides, as well as onto ion-exchange media and various media of biological origin such as charcoal, vegetable fibers, plant roots, and hard tissues, such as shells and scales. Living biota, such as arsenic-accumulating plants and arsenic tolerant microorganisms, including fungi and yeasts, will also be studied. The experimental work will form the basis for authentic research experiences for undergraduate science students in their first-year on the University campus and will expand the capacity of an existing successful program that is concerned with all aspects of the bio-, geo-, and analytical chemistry of arsenic compounds in the environment.