By Cameron Hurst, '19
Dr. Scott Simpson, assistant professor of chemistry at St. Bonaventure University, has been awarded nearly $120,000 in grant funding for research from the National Science Foundation.
The grant, which awards $119,373 to Simpson's research group, is titled, “Collaborative Research: Fundamental Studies on the Environmental Fate of Short-Chain and Emerging Fluorinated Alkyl Substances Using Mass-Spectrometry and Molecular Modelling.”
The National Science Foundation is a United States government agency that supports fundamental research and education in all the non-medical fields of science and engineering.
The grant helps Simpson and student researchers identify per-fluoroalkyl and poly-fluoroalkyl substances, known as PFASs, which are compounds that are emerging environmental contaminants widely used in products such as firefighting foams, ingredients in textiles, and food contact materials.
Evidence suggests that exposure to these compounds can lead to adverse health outcomes in humans and animals as they bioaccumulate and persist in the body for a long period.
Studies have shown a rise in cholesterol levels among those exposed to them while more limited populations have experienced infant birth weights, effects on the immune system, cancer, and thyroid hormone disruption.
Simpson noted, “Scientists are just skimming the surface of identifying and quantifying the 5,000+ substances used in a variety of industrial and consumer applications. The EPA currently only focuses on monitoring 14 of these substances due to the lack of identification methods.”
“I am excited for this opportunity to not only try to solve a problem that has a major impact across the globe, but also to push scientific research at St. Bonaventure University further,” Simpson added. “This grant will provide support for two summer researchers over the next three years and upgrades to the Chemistry Department’s Beowulf computer cluster.”
The grant is a collaborative effort between the Simpson Research group at SBU and the Aga Research group, led by Dr. Diana S. Aga, the Henry M. Woodburn Professor of Chemistry at the University of Buffalo, which was awarded a $552,004 NSF grant.
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