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Clarkson Grad Student to Study Mercury in the St. Lawrence River


Clarkson University graduate student Evie Brahmstedt was awarded a $500 grant from the New York State Wetlands Forum. Her research on mercury mobilization in St. Lawrence River wetlands in response to changing water levels was recognized at the recent New York State Wetlands Forum Annual Conference, held in Watkins Glen.

Since mercury is a harmful neurotoxin and can bioaccumulate in fish and humans, the key to understanding the impact on mercury mobilization will be to determine how fast mercury is released, where it goes, and in what form.

As a Ph.D. student in the Environmental Science and Engineering program of Clarkson’s Institute for a Sustainable Environment, Brahmstedt seeks to bridge the gaps in knowledge between environmental change and environmental policy.

“The new water level management plan for the St. Lawrence River is designed to reduce the extent of cattail wetland area by 29% with concomitant gains in wetland meadow and submerged aquatic vegetation – this will increase biodiversity in the river and support greater fish production,” Brahmstedt said.

Brahmstedt’s 2016 study under the supervision of Clarkson Biology Professor Michael Twiss estimated that approximately 150 pounds of mercury will be mobilized with this change in wetland community structure.

With funding Twiss received from the Great Lakes Research Consortium and the Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change through partnership with the St. Lawrence River Institute of Environmental Sciences in Cornwall, Ontario, the project was expanded in 2017 to measure the threat of mercury in eighty wetlands in the river from Lake Ontario to the Moses-Saunders power dam.

The New York State Wetlands Forum is a non-advocacy organization comprised of individuals and groups with diverse backgrounds, interests, and viewpoints regarding wetlands and their science, use and management across New York.

Clarkson University educates the leaders of the global economy. One in five alumni already leads as an owner, CEO, VP or equivalent senior executive of a company. With its main campus located in Potsdam, N.Y., and additional graduate program and research facilities in the New York Capital Region, Beacon, N.Y., and New York City, Clarkson is a nationally recognized research university with signature areas of academic excellence and research directed toward the world’s pressing issues. Through more than 50 rigorous programs of study in engineering, business, arts, education, sciences and the health professions, the entire learning-living community spans boundaries across disciplines, nations, and cultures to build powers of observation, challenge the status quo, and connect discovery and innovation with enterprise.


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