UNCW professor receives DEQ Applied Research Fellowship to advance PFAS science

The fellows (L to R): Dr. Detlef Knappe, North Carolina State University; Dr. Ralph Mead, University of North Carolina Wilmington; Dr. Jamie DeWitt, East Carolina University; and Dr. Lee Ferguson, Duke University (Photo: Jeff Janowski / UNCW)

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Dr. Ralph Mead, professor of chemistry and biochemistry for UNCW and its Center for Marine Science, is among four researchers awarded the inaugural North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality Applied Research Fellowship to advance the science of forever chemicals in the state.

The DEQ, in partnership with the North Carolina Collaboratory, established this unique fellowship program to strengthen the partnership between state regulators and academic experts on a priority issue that impacts many North Carolinians.

“I am honored to receive the Collaboratory Fellowship and work with fellow scientists and regulators from NC Department of Environmental Quality,” said Dr. Mead. “I look forward to strengthening and growing these ties to further advance our knowledge of the challenges per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances pose to the environment and citizens of North Carolina.”

A key focus of the DEQ Action Strategy for PFAS is the development of the science needed to address PFAS statewide.

The fellowship program provides an opportunity for researchers and DEQ staff to identify and address information gaps and research needs.

The Fall 2022 Fellows will be Dr. Jamie DeWitt from East Carolina University and Dr. Lee Ferguson from Duke University, who will provide their expertise to DEQ staff to assist with PFAS-related laboratory methods, data analysis and field sampling.

Dr. Detlef Knappe from North Carolina State University will be the Spring 2023 Fellow and Dr. Mead will be the Summer 2023 Fellow.

The fellowship program will be funded by the Collaboratory, which was established by the NC General Assembly in 2016 and has been active in PFAS research for many years.

In 2018, the Collaboratory formed the NC PFAS Testing Network – a group of PFAS experts who specialize in studying PFAS levels in drinking water and air samples as well as the environmental, biological and public health impacts of the chemicals.

More information is available online: https://collaboratory.unc.edu.

More information about DEQ’s continued work on emerging compounds including the DEQ Action Strategy for PFAS is available online here: https://deq.nc.gov/news/key-issues/emerging-compounds.

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