Environmental chemistry seeks to understand the chemical processes that impact the composition of the environment. Crossing traditional boundaries of geology, chemistry and biology, environmental chemists seek to identify and quantify sources, processes and fates of chemicals on land, in water and in the air. Environmental toxicology is a related interdisciplinary field that uses knowledge from environmental chemistry, toxicology and ecology to understand the ultimate fate and effects of man-made pollutants, the mechanisms by which pollutants impact the health of organisms and entire ecosystems, and how those effects may be mitigated or reversed.
UMCES’ environmental chemists and toxicologists study environmental processes in marine, estuarine, freshwater and terrestrial systems across the globe, including the impacts of human interactions with the environment to provide a multidisciplinary approach to solving current and emerging environmental problems. Our researchers utilize a broad range of state-of-the-art instrumentation to study biogeochemical processes including sedimentation rates and patterns, organic matter characterization, and trace metal cycling. Isotopes and tracers have applications to food webs, fisheries, and paleoclimate studies. Researchers use molecular, biochemical and behavioral studies to identify metabolic pathways, mechanisms of action of pollutants, identify ecosystems and organisms under threat and investigate treatment methods to control invasive species.