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Invitation to IESS International Seminar

07 December 2017

The Institute for Environment and Sanitation Studies (IESS) invites the University Community to an International Seminar to be held as follows:


Thu, December 14, 2017


10:00 am prompt


Auditorium (G9), International House



Prof. Heiko L. Schoenfuss

Professor and Director, Aquatic Toxicology Laboratory

St. Cloud State University, St. Cloud, MN, USA

Prof. Paige Novak

Professor & Co-Director, MnDRIVE: Environment

Department of Civil, Environmental, and Geo- Engineering, University of Minnesota


A Watershed-wide Investigation of the Biological Effects of Contaminants of Emerging Concern: A Case Study in the North American Great Lakes

Dr. Schoenfuss will explore the effects of Contaminants of Emerging Concern (CECs) on resident fish species in the North American Great Lakes watershed.  CECs include common pharmaceuticals, household products and industrial and agricultural chemicals known to cause harm to aquatic life.  We analyzed nearly 500 surface water samples at 54 sites in tributaries of the Great Lakes Watershed to confirm the ubiquitous presence of CECs. A subsequent cluster analyses of commonly detected CECs in this data matrix suggests that the co-occurrence of approximately half of the CECs can be attributed to dichotomous urban or agricultural upstream land use. Almost 3,000 resident and caged sunfish (Lepomis ssp.) were collected from 27 of the 54 sampling sites and analyzed for indicators of stress associated with CEC exposure. Canonical correspondence analyses revealed that concurrent with indicators of toxic stress, biomarkers of reproductive potential declined. To further examine the population level consequences, fathead minnows (Pimephales promelas) were exposed in the laboratory for three generations to the empirically derived urban CEC mixture at three environmentally relevant concentrations. Taken together, this integrated series of studies provides a case study on how to develop a comprehensive assessment of the presence and biological effects of CECs across a continental watershed.

Dr. Schoenfuss will close the seminar by providing a brief introduction to the research activities, facilities and educational programs found in the Department of Biological Sciences at St. Cloud State University.


The Problem of Environmental Estrogens from the Wastewater Perspective

Environmental estrogens are discharged from wastewater treatment plants and can cause physiological, developmental, and behavioral changes in fish and other aquatic organisms.  Sources of environmental estrogens vary, with some sources under appreciated.  In addition, the fate of these compounds in treatment plants and the environment is complicated, with degradation rates varying widely and degradation products sometimes causing physiological effects as well.  Given this, how should we approach the management of these compounds?  Do we impose regulations on the discharge of environmental estrogens, and if so, how?  

Finally, how do we pay for the treatment required to protect ecosystems?


Dr. Novak will present a summary of the research that her lab has performed around the science of the issue with the goal of stimulating thought and discussion about how best to manage this very complicated water pollution issue.


Dr. Novak will also present general background on the University of Minnesota (UMN), the Department of Civil, Environmental, and Geo- Engineering at UMN, and provide an overview of her research in environmental microbiology.

Your attendance is highly anticipated