PhD Student Jessica Brandt Receives EPA STAR Fellowship

June 29, 2016

Contact: Tim Lucas, 919/613-8084,

DURHAM, N.C. – Jessica Brandt, a third-year doctoral student in the Integrated Toxicology and Environmental Health Program (ITEHP) at Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment, has been awarded a three-year, $132,000 EPA STAR (Science to Achieve Results) Fellowship.

Brandt will use the fellowship to research the persistence of coal combustion residues in freshwater ecosystems, and the consequences of this contamination for native plants and animals.  She will collect and analyze water, sediment, primary producers and fish from sites that have historically been contaminated by effluents from coal-fired energy facilities, as well as from reference sites.  She also will conduct laboratory-based toxicity research using fish model species.

Preliminary results from Brandt’s previous work on the topic suggests that coal combustion contaminants are retained by, and impact, freshwater systems for many years, even after the source of contamination has been terminated.

Emily Bernhardt, professor of biology, and Richard T. Di Giulio, Sally Kleberg Professor of Environmental Toxicology and director of the ITEHP program, are Brandt’s faculty advisors.

Brandt received her B.A. in public health studies in 2011 and her Master of Health Science in 2012 in environmental health studies, toxicology and pathophysiology, both from Johns Hopkins University.