This web page was developed by a team of scholars from Duke University as part of a Bass Connections project.
Dr. Emily Bernhardt is a Professor in Duke's Department of Biology. She is a biogeochemist whose research focuses on the ways in which human activities in watersheds alter the movement of water, chemicals and energy through ecosystems. Emily serves as the faculty advisor for this Bass Connections team.
William Pan, DrPH, Associate Professor of Global Environmental Health, joined the faculty at Duke in 2011. He holds a joint appointment at DGHI and the Nicholas School of Environment. Pan's research interests focuses on population, health, and environmental interactions, with particular interest in translational research directed toward sustainable development. He has worked in countries throughout Latin America and Africa on topics ranging from land use change, reproductive health, migration, tuberculosis, HIV, enteric infections, and childhood nutrition.
Dr. Ernesto Ortiz is a Peruvian Physician based at Duke (DGHI) with a Master in Public Health degree from the University of Iowa. He has several years of experience researching tropical infectious diseases. Before coming to Duke, he worked at the U.S. Naval Medical Research Unit (NAMRU-6) in Peru, and in the last 7 years he has been focusing on the impacts of mercury exposure on human health in the Peruvian Amazon. He also serves as the liaison between Duke and the different Peruvian Institutions (Government, Public, Private, NGO’s, etc.), that partner or collaborate with the research being performed in Peru.
Dr. Heileen (Helen) Hsu-Kim is a Professor of Environmental Engineering at Duke University with expertise in aquatic geochemistry and nanogeoscience. Her research primarily focuses on trace element contaminants, their distribution in the environment and exposure risks, and technologies to recover valuable metals from unconventional sources. Current research in her group includes the study of environmental mercury contamination and exposure to vulnerable populations, mechanisms of methylmercury production in the environment, and strategies to better predict and reduce methylmercury levels in contaminated ecosystems.
Jackie Gerson is a PhD candidate in Ecology and team leader of the Duke project investigating environmental impacts of artisanal gold mining in Madre de Dios. Her research examines the atmospheric and hydrologic movement of mercury from artisanal gold mining. She hopes to better understand how the contaminant moves across the landscape, thereby leading to human and animal exposure. Jackie has previous experience examining the extent of mercury from artisanal gold mining in Senegal.
Austin Jacob Wadle is a PhD student in the Civil and Environmental Engineering where they study trace metal geochemistry in Helen Hsu-Kim's lab. Their research focuses on mercury speciation and availability to methylating microorganisms. Additionally, Austin's training in political science and movement politics presents a unique interdisciplinary lens to extend technical knowledge to broader policy and public engagement.
Chris Lara is a Mid-Career Graduate Fellow (MIDP) at the Sanford School of Public Policy. Capitalizing on his experience on humanitarian diplomacy and coordination with the United Nations, and his Public Policy training at Duke, his research examines the potential of strategic cross-sectorial collaboration in the framework of Planetary Health/One-Health/Eco-Health approaches and the sustainable development goals.
Natalia Rivadeneyra is a Peruvian lawyer and an Llm Candidate at Duke Law School. Natalia has experience as a practicing lawyer in the environmental, energy and corporative fields. Natalia is also the co-founder of a Peruvian Non-profit organization Elementos, Peru, which is dedicated to promote public health and sustainable development.
Tatiana Manidis is a Master of Environmental Management (MEM) candidate at the Nicholas School. She is specializing in Environmental Health, and her Master's project will implement data from the study area to evaluate the effect of mercury exposure on cardiovascular health. Tatiana has experience in environmental consulting, previously working for NewFields in Atlanta. She provides the team with research, geospatial and statistical support.
Melissa Marchese is a second-year undergraduate studying Environmental Science and Policy and Global health. She is interested in mercury exposure pathways and health effects. Her undergraduate research project will will analyze mercury content of foodstuffs with respect to type of crop and proximity to mining.
Kelsey Lansdale is an undergraduate in her last year at Duke University. She is majoring in Environmental Science and Policy with a concentration on the the relationship between environmental and human health. She also has minors in Chemistry and Spanish. Kelsey's Graduation with Distinction Thesis project uses alternative diet scenarios from different cities on the Madre de Dios River to predict exposure pathways for humans.
Eliza Letourneau is in her last year of undergraduate studies at Duke University, majoring in Environmental Science with a focus in ecosystem cycling. She is also pursuing minors in Spanish and Chemistry. Eliza’s Senior Thesis project investigates mercury levels in fish from the Madre de Dios River as well as farmed fish in the region to look at dietary exposure risks for local populations along the river.
Fernanda Machicao is a second-year undergraduate at Duke University intending to major in Environmental Science and Policy and Biology. She is also pursuing a minor in English. Joining the project in Spring 2019, she will conduct fieldwork in the Madre de Dios over the summer and work in the lab analyzing the samples collected.
Arabella Chen is a second-year undergraduate at Duke University studying Biology and pursuing a certificate in journalism, focusing on photojournalism. She was in Madre de Dios for field work this past summer and will be in the lab analyzing the samples collected during the year.