By Cheryl Toomey, University Relations Graduate Assistant

Dr. Sean Richards, professor of Biological and Environmental Sciences, will present “Human Pharmaceuticals in our Lakes and Rivers” on March 5, at 4 p.m. in the Raccoon Mountain Rooms of the UTC University Center. This presentation, sponsored by the UTC Chapter of Sigma Xi, is free and open to the public.

tennessee-river-12Richards will discuss the effect of pharmaceuticals on various aquatic organisms as an emerging issue in the environment. As the human population increases, so does the amount of direct and indirect consumption and excretion of pharmaceuticals, both in veterinary and medical application. Currently, the effects of this continual loading of pharmaceuticals in the aquatic community are unknown. The goal of Richards’ research is to determine the compounds that may be the most harmful to aquatic organisms so that actions may be taken to protect the environment, if necessary.

Richards’ recent research has focused not only on the effects of pharmaceuticals on aquatic organisms, but also on examining the types of compounds present in the Chattanooga Creek and the potential effects of toxicants on nearby residents. Richards is also working with physicians and scientists from Columbia University, University of Rochester, University of Michigan, Erlanger Health System, and Southern Illinois University in researching the causes of the extremely low birth weight of Hamilton County, Tennessee infants.

For more information about Richards’ career, go here.

Sigma Xi is a non-profit membership society of nearly 75,000 scientists and engineers who were elected to the Society because of their research achievements or potential, according to the Sigma Xi website.  Founded in 1886, Sigma Xi has more than 500 chapters at universities, colleges, government laboratories, and industry research centers. In addition to awarding grants annually to promising young researchers, Sigma Xi holds forums on critical science issues and sponsors a variety of programs supporting honor in science and engineering, science education, science policy and the public understanding of science. Sigma Xi’s mission is to enhance the health of the research enterprise, foster integrity in science and engineering, and promote the public’s understanding of science for the purpose of improving the human condition.

For more information, visit Sigma Xi online.  For more information about the UTC Chapter of Sigma Xi, email Margaret-Kovach@utc.edu .

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