News Archive
News Archive
home > archives > news archive


March 2012

EPA Research Forum

Professor Robert Hurt, leader of Project 6, and doctoral-candidate Jingyu Liu presented a talk titled Environmental Transformations and Bioavailability of Metal-Containing Nanomaterials and Consumer Products to the EPA Region-1 Office of Research and Development, and to other local scientists in Boston, MA on March, 14, 2012. Jim Rice, Brown's SRP State Agencies Liaison, also attended this EPA Research Forum. Professor Hurt's talk was well attended and received, spurring an interesting and engaging regulator-to-researcher discussion.


December 2011

Novel Device Removes Heavy Metals From Water

Joe Calo, leader of Project 5, and his collaborators have developed a system that cleanly and efficiently removes trace heavy metals from water. In experiments, the researchers showed the system reduced cadmium, copper, and nickel concentrations, returning contaminated water to near or below federally acceptable standards. The technique is scalable and has viable commercial applications, especially in the environmental remediation and metal recovery fields. Press release.


November 2011

Poster Presentation at SETAC Meeting

Monique Perron's poster Comparison of Passive Samplers for Monitoring Dissolved Organic Contaminants in Water Column Deployments was presented at The Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (SETAC) North America 32nd Annual Meeting, held November 13-17, 2011, in Boston, MA. To view the poster, please click here.


September 2011

Community Environmental College (CEC)

The Community Environmental College (CEC) is an 8 week summer program that develops critical environmental thinking skills and educates a growing number of youth on environmental justice issues including toxicants, air pollution, waste, food and climate change. In the summer of 2011, the program's third year of operation, the CEC graduated 47 students. Full report.


September 2011

Cell entry of one-dimensional nanomaterials occurs by tip recognition and rotation

Annette von dem Bussche and Agnes Kane Project 2, and Robert Hurt Project 6 are co-authors on a recent publication in Nature Nanotechnology. The SRP team joined with the Huajian Gao group, also at Brown, to study the cellular uptake mechanisms of long fibers relevant to carbon nanotube health risks. Through a combination of experiments and molecular dynamics simulations, the team reports that cells take up these one-dimensional materials tip first, followed by rotation and near-vertical entry. Modelling suggests that closed, rounded caps at the tube ends mimic particles and initiative receptor-mediated internalization in a vertical mode that prevents the cell from ever sensing the full size of the foreign body. For long tubes the result is frustrated uptake and toxicity, and the modeling suggests these consequences might be avoided by altering tip geometries. Full article.


September 2011

Harmful exposure? What is the safety professional's role in protecting workers' reproductive health?

Marcella Remer Thompson, an environmental health state agency liaison for the Brown University Superfund Research Program, speaks about this potentially serious public health problem in an interview by Safety+Health.


September 2011

No harm to mice testes from BPA exposure in utero

Bisphenol A (BPA), a common component of plastic used in many consumer products, has recently become infamous – and banned in some places – because it can mimic natural estrogen in the body. A new study led by Mary Hixon Molecular Pathology Core and assistant professor (research) of pathology and laboratory medicine, finds that male mice whose mothers were exposed even to high doses of BPA while pregnant developed no signs of harm to their testes as adults. Press Release.


August 2011

Nickel nanoparticles may contribute to lung cancer

Lab experiments find that nickel particles with diameters billionths of a meter wide can trigger a cellular pathway that promotes cancer growth. The research, led by postdoctoral research associate and first author Jodie Pietruska, was a collaboration between researchers on SRP Projects 2, 4, 6.


August 2011

Phil Brown Named Recipient of the 2012 Leo G. Reeder Award

Dr. Phil Brown, Community Outreach Core, is the recipient of the 2012 Leo G. Reeder Award. Given annually for Distinguished Contribution to Medical Sociology, this award recognizes scholarly contributions, especially a body of work displaying an extended trajectory of productivity and encompassing theory and research. The Reeder Award also acknowledges teaching, mentoring, and training as well as service to the medical sociology community broadly defined. Dr. Phil Brown will be presented the award at the 2012 meetings of the ASA Medical Sociology Section in Colorado. His talk at the meeting will be published in the ASA's Journal of Health and Social Behavior.


August 2011

$112.5 Million Awarded to Research Consortia Studying Effects of Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill on Gulf of Mexico

As a member institution of Tulane University, Brown University's Institute For Molecular And Nanoscale Innovation (IMNI) and a partner of our SRP was selected to receive funding as part of the GRI-BP program to address future large-scale petroleum spills.


August 2011

Eric Suuberg named Fellow of the American Chemical Society

Eric Suuberg, leader of Project 7 and our Research Translation Core, was inducted as a Fellow of the American Chemical Society during their Fall 2011 National Meeting & Exposition that was held Aug 28 – Sept 1 in Denver, CO.


May 2011

Dave Murray honored by Save The Bay

David Murray, leader of our Analytical Core and senior research associate and facility manager in environmental and geological sciences, received Save The Bay's Environmental Achievement Award at the organization's annual meeting May 19. Murray was recognized for his water-quality research on the Providence and Seekonk rivers and the expertise he has lent to Save The Bay for more than a decade. The full report appears in the Providence Journal.


February 2011

Congratulations, Dr. Agnes Kane

Dr. Agnes Kane, leader of Research Project 2 and the Training Core, has been named a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). She will be officially welcomed as a fellow in February during the 2011 AAAS Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C.


November 2010

Congratulations, Devin Koestler

Devin Koestler, SRP trainee under the mentorship of Dr. E. Andres Houseman of Brown's Analytical Core, was awarded an NIH F31 pre-doctoral fellowship for his project entitled "Model-Based Clustering of Genomic Data using Complex Covariance Structures". His work on the analysis of complex datasets of epigenetic regulation in human populations appears in Bioinformatics and serves as the basis for much of the analysis performed in Project 8, as well as other similar datasets.


October 2010

Controlled Release of Biologically Active Silver from Nanosilver Surfaces

Brown's SRP (Project 6) is one of the co-sponsors of this work. The full article appears in ACS Nano.


October 2010

Environmental Exposures Shape Human Health -- and Careers

Carmen Marsit, leader of Project 8 is profiled in Science Careers from the journal Science.


September 2010

Congratulations, Alissa Cordner!

Alissa Cordner, SRP trainee and Ph.D. student in Sociology, is the recipient of a three-year EPA STAR Graduate Fellowship for her research project, The Social Implications of Flame Retardant Chemicals: A Case Study in Risk and Hazard Perception.


August 2010

Latino Market in Providence gets a healthier food makeover!

In partnership with the Environmental Justice League, our outreach team increases the availability of healthy foods to low-income neighborhoods. Read the full story in the Providence Journal.


July 2010

Congratulations, Xinyuan Liu!

Xinyuan Liu, a graduate student working on (Project 6), won the inaugural "Robert A. Meyer" award by the American Carbon Society for her oral presentation at Carbon 2010. Xinyuan's presentation was titled, "Nanotoxicology: depletion of antioxidants by heterogeneous catalysis on carbon surfaces," supported in part by SRP and wholly by the NIEHS.


March 2010

CARE for Environmental Justice League (EJLRI) in Providence, RI

EJLRI, our community outreach partner, is making a difference. Full report.


March 2010

Congratulations, Sarah Campion

Sarah Campion, a post-doc working on Project 1 received an award for the "Mixtures Specialty Section Wiley's Best Postdoctoral Presentation" for significant contributions to the field of mixtures toxicology. The award was presented at the Society of Toxicology (SOT) Annual Meeting on March 9, 2010.


January 2010

K. Patricia Cross Future Leaders Award

Elizabeth Hoover, working with Phil Brown and our Community Outreach Core, is one of nine students nationwide honored with a K. Patricia Cross Future Leaders Award from The Association of American Colleges and Universities. Full report.


June 2009

SRP Research Brief 174: Gene-Environment Interactions: PCB Exposures and Adverse Effects on Pregnancy

Surendra Sharma, Brown SRP researcher, leads a team working to identify pathways and targets related to adverse effects on pregnancy following maternal PCB exposure. Research Brief 174.


May 2009

Bill boosting fines for industrial pollution makes progress

Phil Brown, Brown SRP Community Outreach Leader, helps Rhode Island environmentalists push bill to increase fines for Rhode Island industrial polluters. Full report.


April 2009

SRP Trainee Success

Congratulations to Alison Cohen!
Alison, an undergraduate research trainee with the Community Outreach Core, has received a Fulbright award to do independent research in the European Union next year.  She will be studying REACH, the EU's new and innovative chemicals regulation, and will consider how policy advocates and policymakers use environmental health science to inform their work. Alison was also named to USA Today's 2009 All-USA College Academic Third Team, in recognition of her work in teaching environmental health and environmental justice to middle school students in Rhode Island with the Outreach Core and in San Francisco.  Full report.

Congratulations to Elizabeth Hoover!
Elizabeth, an SBRP graduate trainee working with our Community Outreach team, is a recent awardee in the Ford Foundation Diversity Fellowship 2009 dissertation competition. Elizabeth will be using her $21,000 award to finish writing her dissertation about environmental health issues in the Mohawk community of Akwesasne over the next year. Ford Foundation Diversity Fellowships.


January 2009

The Other Side of Nanotechnology

Canadian Press Association reports in a recent article that Nanotechnology is newsworthy because of its promise, but some researchers point to the potential for its unknown environmental consequences. Agnes Kane, Leader of Project 2, says nanoparticles can be highly reactive and may generate oxidants that cause cellular damage. Full report.


November 2008

Household Exposure to Toxic Chemicals Lurks Unrecognized, Researchers Find

Many women are surprised to learn the extent of personal, in-home contamination caused by exposure to everyday consumer products, according to a team of researchers including Phil Brown, leader of our Community Outreach Core and Brown University sociologist. Full report.


November 2008

Laura Senier is the Recipient of the 11th Annual Karen Wetterhan Award

The award highly commends Laura's excellent work in community outreach and environmental justice, a key part of her work with the Brown Superfund Basic Research Program’s Community Outreach Core. Her efforts have included direct support work with community-based organizations that are partnered with the Community Outreach Core, interaction with Superfund scientists to show them the importance of community engagement, and publication in a top-tier environmental health journal, Environmental Science and Technology, of an article describing Brown’s Superfund outreach work. Laura will present her research at the upcoming SBRP Annual Meeting in Pacific Grove, California, December 7-9, 2008.


November 2008


Congratulations to Robert Hurt and Agnes Kane who have been awarded a three-year grant, titled "Bioavailability, Environmental Transformation, and Detoxification of Core/Shell Nanomaterials." This work will further the understanding of the conditions underwhich internal imbedded toxicants become bioavailable and how to avoid it.


October 2008

Eric Suuberg Wins Honorary Degree in Estonia

The Tallinn University of Technology (TUT) in Estonia awarded an honorary degree to Eric Suuberg, Leader of our Research Translation Core and Project 7, as part of its 90th anniversary celebration. The honor recognized Suuberg’s achievements in the fields of chemical engineering, fuel science, and environmental technology. The citation made special mention of Suuberg’s “promotion of cultural contacts between Estonia and the United States, in particular scientific contacts between Tallinn University and Brown University.” Full report.


October 2008

SBRP Grantee Chairs EPA Panel

Dr. Agnes Kane of the Brown University SBRP chairs an EPA Science Advisory Board (SAB) panel to review the draft model for performing site-specific risk assessments for inhalation exposure to asbestos. This approach is unique because it includes the different asbestos mineral forms and fiber sizes. The panel, which includes experts from industry, academia, and NIEHS, will provide recommendations for OSWER consideration as they finalize the approach. Dr. Karl Kelsey, Director of CEHT and co-leader of Project 8, is also on this committee.


September 2008

Cleanup for Broken CFLs.

Robert Hurt and his team characterize for the first time how elemental mercury vapor escapes from broken CFLs and offer a real-world solution for capturing escaping mercury. A review of this work is featured in Environmental Health Perspectives.


August 2008

Taking Civil Action!

DISCOVER MAGAZINE profiles the environmental health work of Phil Brown, the leader of our Community Outreach Core.
Full report.


June 2008

Mercury-absorbant liner created for compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs)

Professor Robert Hurt, Leader of Project 6, and his team have discovered a material that can be used to absorb mercury from compact fluorescent lamps. The nanomaterial has been used to create a mercury-absorbent container lining for broken CFLs.
Full report and news release


May 2008

2008 Switzer Fellowship Selection

Congratulations to Elizabeth Hoover, a graduate student in the Department of Anthropology and a member of Brown’s SBRP Community Outreach team. Liz is among 25 new Switzer Fellows chosen from a record number of applicants from New England and California. The award is in recognition of Liz’s exceptional contribution to our Community Outreach efforts, her active role in the new Environmental Justice League of Rhode Island, and her dissertation work on how the Akwesasne Mohawk community on the NY-Canada border experiences health studies and understands the hazards their community faces. We are very proud of her, and wish her the best in finishing up her exciting dissertation.


May 2008

Building a Business Around SBRP Research: Undergraduate Student Team Impresses in Business Plan Competitions with an Idea from Brown Engineering

CHMR Solutions is a student entrepreneurship team mentored by Dr. J.M. Calo, a Brown University SBRP research project leader. CHMR Solutions utilizes a Cyclic Electrowinning/Precipitation (CEP) system to remove heavy metal contamination from Brownfields. The CEP system offers CHMR Solutions a great competitive advantage in the growing market in Brownfield remediation for redevelopment purposes. CHMR Solutions entered their business plan into two competitions, one sponsored by the local student entrepreneurship club at Brown University and the other in the RI Business Plan Competition. In the Brown competition, they finished as first runner-up (winning $3,500) and in the statewide contest they were one of only two runners-up (winning $5000) to help them pursue their idea further.
Brown University posting.


April 2008

'Potential’ Soil Case Settlement

With the help of Phil Brown and the community outreach team, a potential settlement of the most complicated and extensive soil contamination case in Rhode Island is reached. Read the front page article in the Providence Journal.


February 2008

Elizabeth Hoover of our Community Outreach Core Selected as Environmental Leadership Program Fellow

Elizabeth Hoover, a Brown graduate student in Anthropology, who has been working as a research assistant in our Community Outreach Core since it began, was just selected as an Environmental Leadership Program Fellow. We are so happy for Liz, and so glad to share this good news. The prestigious Environmental Leadership Program (ELP) is a great training ground, resource development network, and community-building milieu for environmental scholars, environmental activists, government staff, and environmental businesspeople. To learn more about ELP please visit their website.


December 2007

Community Outreach: ECHO Home Equity Loan Program for Contaminated Communities

The Brown Alumni Magazine covers our Community Outreach Core's success in initiating legislation to get the nation’s first state program for home equity loans for homeowners unable to get bank loans because of environmental contamination. View the full article.


November 2007
Natalie Johnson Wins Outstanding Student Poster Award

Natalie Johnson, Brown University senior, won an outstanding student poster award in the environmental section of the 2007 American Institute of Chemical Engineers National Meeting (Salt Lake City, Utah). Johnson, a major in chemical engineering, is working on an SBRP-funded, independent project titled, "The Characterization and Capture of Mercury Released from Broken Fluorescent Bulbs". Natalie's research focuses on the growing use of the florescent light bulb, and what happens to the toxic mercury after the bulb breaks. In addition to measuring mercury vapor release, Natalie is developing an adsorbent system for capturing the toxin and stabilizing it in landfill environments.


Chromium 6: A Killer Compound With An Improbable Trigger

In new research, Dr. Anatoly Zhitkovich and his research team show that when vitamin C reacts with even low doses of chromium 6 inside human cells, it creates high levels of cancer-causing DNA damage and mutations.

 View the full article


Brown University Senior Wins Best Poster Award, November 2006
Shawn Manchester, a Brown University senior working with Dr. Robert Hurt, won the student award for the best poster in the environmental area at the Annual Meeting of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE), held November 12-17, 2006, in San Francisco, CA. Shawn's poster was titled: "Novel Nanostructured Sorbents for Mercury Capture."


Community Outreach Success:
ECHO (Environmentally Compromised Home Opportunity) Program, July 2006

Governor Carcieri carried out a ceremonial signing of the Environmentally Compromised Home Opportunity Revolving Loan Fund Act at ENACT leader Gail Corvello's house in Tiverton on Friday July 21, 2006. This bill was proposed by Brown University’s Superfund Basic Research Program's Community Outreach Core, in collaboration with its partner group ENACT, as well as Rep. Amaral and Sen. Felag. The ECHO (Environmentally Compromised Home Opportunity) program will have $500,000 available, through the Rhode Island Housing Authority, making low-interest home improvement loans of up to $25,000 for homeowners with toxic contamination, as certified by the DEM. Governor Carcieri, Sen. Chafee, State Sen. Walter Felag, State Rep. Joe Amaral, and ENACT Leader Gail Corvello all spoke about the importance of the act, and thanked the Brown University crew in particular. There was a large turnout and excellent press coverage.

Brown University’s Community Outreach Core
assisted Rhode Island Legal Services (RILS) in writing a Healthy Communities Grant proposal that EPA recently awarded, to expand the work of the Providence Environmental Justice Education Forum. The Project will expand the capacity of Providence residents to engage in advocacy on environmental justice issues by bringing information to residents through producing accessibly written informational brochures, holding community forums, educating residents about applicable laws and policies that provide for and promote environmental justice, and creating the space for residents to meet, discuss and plan future environmental justice advocacy efforts.

New Rhode Island School Siting Law
As a result of community opposition to the City of Providence’s practice of siting new public schools on top of toxic waste sites, the General Assembly passed and Governor Carcieri signed legislation that gives the public additional opportunities to voice concerns about the reuse of contaminated sites for school, child-care or public recreation facilities. This new legislation, introduced at the request of the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (RIDEM), requires sponsors of school, child care, or public recreational facilities to conduct an environmental due diligence investigation and hold a public meeting to discuss the investigation and solicit public comment about the site.
Brown’s Superfund Basic Research Program Community Outreach Core has been working with Rhode Island Legal Services and community activists at Hartford Park Residents Association and at Mashapaug Pond on this school siting issue, as well as participating with RIDEM in a newly formed statewide stakeholder group. Our research assistants continue to put considerable effort into working with groups on the proposed high school siting on Mashapaug Pond, and we have also placed students in service learning projects there. The Community Outreach Core sees school siting as a national issue which is receiving growing attention, and is pleased to help in this process. A copy of the legislation is available on the internet at:

Dr. Phil Brown, Community Outreach Core Leader, will be awarded The Fred Buttel Distinguished Contribution to Environmental Sociology Award from the Environment and Technology Section of the American Sociological Association, August 2006. "The Fred Buttel Distinguished Contribution Award is given each year to a section member for outstanding service, innovation, teaching, and publication in the sociology of the environment and technology."

Dr. Surendra Sharma, Principle Investigator for Project 3, was recently awarded an Honorary Doctor of Medicine Degree by the Faculty of Health Sciences of Linkoping University, Linkoping, Sweden. Dr. Sharma has nearly a decade of collaborative ventures with Linkoping University (LiU). The Honorary Doctor ceremonies took place from May 11-14, 2006 in twin cities, Linkoping and Norrkoping, and entailed ceremonial lunches and meetings with the Governor of the province and President and Dean of Medicine of the University along with other recipients and dignitaries.

December 11, 2005

Article: "As Nanoparticles Enter Our Lives, Stepped-Up Research Is Urged"
    By: Michelle R. Smith
    Featured in: The Boston Globe
    View the full article.
A brief and free registration is required to view the article.

November 15, 2005

Article: "Are Nanomaterials Safe? Brown Team Asks Big Questions About Tiny Technology"
    By: Wendy Lawton
    Featured in: Inside Brown
    View the full article.

November 10, 2005

Article: "Brown University Scientists Testing Toxicity Of Nanomaterials"
    By: Wendy Lawton
    Featured in: The News Service
    View the full article.

Fall, 2005

Article: "Undoing the Damage"
    Featured in: Impact

May 6, 2005

Article: "Grant Establishes Brown as Superfund Research Center"
    By: Wendy Lawton
    Featured in: Inside Brown
    View the full article.

April 26, 2005

Article: "Grant Boosts Cleanup Study"
    By: Karen Lee Ziner
    Featured in: The Providence Journal
    View the full article.
A brief and free registration is required to view the article.

April 25, 2005

Article: "Brown Wins Major Award To Improve Environment, Protect R.I. Health"
    By: Wendy Lawton
    Featured in: The News Service at Brown University
    View the full article.