One World. One Health. One Water. Lightning Talks

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Zebrafish as a model for studying One Health

Dr. Tracie Baker, Assistant Professor, Institute of Environmental Health Science, Wayne State University

Zebrafish are an excellent vertebrate species for evaluating health effects of exposure to environmental chemicals due to their short generation times, high fecundity, detailed genomic information, and ease of husbandry. They are an NIH recognized vertebrate model organism for evaluating human health and disease outcomes. As their development and health effects are also translatable to wild fish, they are an ideal model for evaluating One Health problems. 


Impact of storm sewer networks on urban groundwater: results from a groundwater flow model

Sadaf Teimoori, PhD Candidate, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Wayne State University

Storm sewer systems reduce infiltration into the groundwater and significantly change groundwater conditions in urban settings. This research investigates the impact of storm sewer networks on groundwater levels through a numerical model.


Decoding PFAS exposure in breast and lung carcinogenesis

Dr. Rodrigo Fernandez-Valdivia, Assistant Professor, Pathology, Wayne State University

Our research focuses on deciphering the molecular circuitries and genetic networks underlying PFAS inductive role in breast and lung cancer initiation and progression.  Our studies indicate that PFOS and PFOA exposure causes marked molecular reprogramming in the breast and lung epithelia, and induce cell proliferation in breast and lung cancer cells.


Community Partnerships for Watershed Education

Kathleen Sexton, Director of Education and Stewardship, Clinton River Watershed Council

The Clinton River watershed is a densely populated urban watershed. The River and Lake St. Clair provide a wealth of opportunities to the community. Learn about how CRWC partners with WSU, HCMA, ReRoot Pontiac, and schools to promote awareness, access, and appreciation of these water resources.


Dorm-level Wastewater monitoring for SARS CoV-2 material: a process-based approach to inform early-warning and control

Dr. Bill Shuster, Professor and Chair, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Wayne State University

Early detection of SARS-CoV-2 the virus that causes COVID-19 can greatly aid public health officials in identifying and controlling surges of this highly infectious disease. One method that is gaining momentum is identification of the virus in wastewater. This presentation will discuss efforts to monitor and test wastewater from campus dormitories and other locations in Midtown Detroit.


Prey choices of water mite predators of mosquito larvae from nearshore habitats of the Laurentian Great Lakes

Dr. Adrian Vasquez, Post-Doctoral Fellow, Cooperative Institute for Great Lakes Research (CIGLR)



Accumulation and potential health effects of nanoplastics

Danielle Meyer, Graduate Student, Pharmacology, Wayne State University

Although nanoplastics (NPs) are likely ubiquitous in environmental waterbodies and drinking water sources, their toxicity and associated health risks have not been well documented. To address this, we investigated the health effects of exposure to polystyrene NPs in larval zebrafish, identifying dose-dependent increases in accumulation, hyperactivity, and dysregulation of neuromotor pathways in NP-exposed fish.


Perspectives of the changing environment from older Detroiters' perspectives:  Reflections on building a research team

Dr. Tam Perry, Associate Professor, Social Work, Wayne State University

This presentation will discuss the approach to be community engaged with this project involving 2 older adults as members of the research team. We will recount lessons learned in order to promote community engaged research with older adults.This presentation will discuss the approach to be community engaged with this project involving 2 older adults as members of the research team. We will recount lessons learned in order to promote community engaged research with older adults.


Phytoplankton as an Indicator of One Health?  Historical Measurements in the Detroit Region

Dr. Carol Miller, Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Wayne State University

Knowledge of the diversity and abundance of plankton communities provides vital information regarding the health status of freshwater ecosystems. In the present study we have used Detroit River plankton observations from 2018-2019 to update our understanding of the community in this binational corridor. We also conducted the first diversity analysis on Detroit River plankton and correlated the plankton assemblage characteristics with temperature, turbidity and river water discharge. Furthermore, we compared present day observations of plankton assemblages with studies dating back to the beginning of the 19th century.  


Mixtures of emerging contaminants in the Detroit River: One Health implications

Dr. Bridget Baker, Research Associate, Institute for Environmental Health Science, Wayne State University

Fifty compounds were detected over two years at multiple locations in the Lake Huron to Lake Erie corridor at ng/L or ng/kg levels with compound mixtures becoming increasingly complex downstream in the wastewater effluent-dominated Detroit River. Understanding the human and ecological health consequences of environmentally-relevant exposures to persistent and biologically active contaminants, particularly as complex mixtures, is essential.


The Detroit Zoological Society's One Health Role

Scott Carter, Chief Life Sciences Officer, Detroit Zoological Society

The Detroit Zoological Society operates the Detroit Zoo and Belle Isle Nature Center, and engages with more than one million people on its campuses and through programs each year.  In addition to its role in wildlife health, primarily through knowledge of and policies and practices to prevent disease in people and animals, like rabies and West Nile virus, it also provides an important role in advising State and other authorities on specialized issues like Batrachochytrium  and risks it presents to native Michigan amphibians. The DZS has a significant role in educating millions of people about wildlife and human/wildlife issues, including about the importance of One Health approaches and programs.


The Rouge River Archives: A CEE Special Collection in the WSU Libraries

Clayton Hayes, Publishing/Learning & Research Support Librarian - Digital Publishing, Wayne State University Library System

The Rouge River Archives is a special collection housed in the Purdy Library at Wayne State University, and represents materials related to the Rouge collected or produced by researchers in Civil and Environmental Engineering and other WSU departments. This presentation will briefly describe the collection and provide information on access.


Occurrence of pharmaceuticals and emerging contaminants in Detroit waterbodies and health effects on fish living in these waters

Jessica Phillips, Graduate Student, Pharmacology, Wayne State University

This presentation introduces the incidence pharmaceuticals in Detroit waterbodies and then briefly outlines health and reproductive effects seen on fish living in these waters, before briefly touching on potential ecological implications.


Evaluating petroleum derived VOCs: Effects on swimming behavior in Daphnia pulex

Zoha Siddiqua, Graduate Student, Pharmaceutical Sciences, Wayne State University

The behavioral toxicity of BTEX in Daphnia pulex has been studied in a novel bioassay system with the aim to evaluate the appropriateness of the dose-addition model for VOC mixtures. Initial results examining the effects of the individual VOCs, toluene and benzene, on swimming behavior is described. [BTEX = Benzene, Toluene, Ethyl-benzene, Xylenes; VOC = volatile organic chemical]


Assessing sustainability trade-offs in the water sector

Dr. John Norton, Director of Energy, Research, & Innovation, Great Lakes Water Authority

Despite the lyrics of rock group Queen's song "I Want It All," reality does not permit "…I want it all and I want it now…". As a result, every decision, including every environmental decision, has inherent trade-offs. This presentation briefly reviews some of the more interesting trade-offs and then briefly outlines the decision-science methodology inherent to holistic evaluation of choices.


Fecal Indicator Bacteria Responses to Two Invasive Plant Species in the Raingardens of Lake St. Clair Metropark

Dr. Victor Carmona, Director of Sustainability and Associate Professor, Biology, University of Detroit Mercy

In both aquatic and soil environments, invasive plants can alter bacterial communities and the ecosystem process sustained by these bacterial communities (e.g. nutrient cycling). This project evaluates changes to the most probable number (MPN) of fecal indicator bacteria (FIB) with respect to the invasive aquatic-plant Hydrocharis morsus-ranae (Frobit) and the invasive variety of the wetland-plant Phragmites australis that grow in the raingardens and marshes of Lake St. Clair MetroPark (Harrison Charter Township, MI). FIB (e.g. Escherichia coli, coliforms, etc.) are used to detect and estimate the level of fecal contamination as well as indicate the presence of disease-causing pathogenic organisms, which in sufficient quantities, can cause disease. This presentation characterizes how invasive plants are impacting FIB communities and evaluates the capacity of green-infrastructure (e.g. raingardens) to recover ecosystem processes (e.g. reduce the species-dominance of pathogenic organisms).


Understanding Flooding in Detroit

Jamie Steis Thorsby, Program Coordinator, Healthy Urban Waters, Wayne State University

Household flooding is becoming increasingly common in the City of Detroit with increasing storm sizes and degrading infrastructure. Despite this, recurrent flooding may be an underreported issue as there is still not a good understanding of how widespread flooding is across the city. HUW has been involved in projects aimed at characterizing the type and scale of recurrent household flooding and how green infrastructure may play a role in mitigating the flooding across the city.


Environmentally relevant PFAS exposures: health effects and transcriptomic assessment

Alex Haimbaugh, Graduate Student, Pharmacology, Wayne State University

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are man-made, extremely long-lasting chemicals with links to detrimental health effects. PFAS have been discovered in contaminated drinking water sources across the US. To better understand the effect these chemicals may have on developing organisms and human health, we exposed embryonic zebrafish to environmentally relevant concentrations of two individual PFAS, and a mixture. The behavioral and gene expression changes will be presented.


Tree canopy and water quality improvement in urban areas

Kate Ekhator, PhD Candidate, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Wayne State University

The presence of tree cover has been reported to improve human wellbeing and provide other ecosystem benefits. One of such benefits is the improvement of storm and ground water quality. 


Groundwater intrusion to the regional wastewater collection system in Detroit Metro Area and contaminant transport analysis

Amir Kamjou, PhD Candidate, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Wayne State University

Groundwater infiltration through defects such as cracks and poor lateral connections has caused significant economic losses such as the increased volume of wastewater that is in need of treatment by the wastewater refinery plants as well as the complexity of treatment process caused by the contaminated groundwater intrusion to the sewer collection system in urban or industrial areas. It is extremely obligatory to address these infiltration/exfiltration issues, because the losses are not limited to economic detriments and there are a wide range, from issues and risks in the public health to ecosystem and environment treats included.


Point-of-Use carbon-block drinking water filters change gut microbiome of larval zebrafish

Dr. Chia-Chen Wu, Post-Doctoral Fellow, Baker Water Lab, Wayne State University

Faucet-mounted point- of-use (POU) filters are increasingly being used to remove contaminants of concern from drinking water. However, these filters are not certified for removing bacteria in the drinking water. Bacterial colonization occurs in these filters and the bacterial composition changes in the filtered water. The change in the water's bacterial community has unknown affects and implications on human health. In this presentation, we will demonstrate using zebrafish as a model system to explore the effect of an altered water environment on the animal gut microbiome.


Detroit Subsurface Characterization Project: Evaluating VOCs in a variably-saturated, urban landscape

Brendan O'Leary, PhD Candidate, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Wayne State University

Subsurface intrusion into residential communities is considered a pathway with high potential to result in human exposure from locations impacts by VOCs in groundwater.  Urban influences further complicate these pathways, requiring the consideration of anthropogenic variables.


Bacterial Diversity and Potential Sources of Microbial Contamination and Potential Pathogens at Metropolitan Detroit Beaches

Dr. Jeff Ram, Professor, Physiology, Wayne State University

The richness, diversity, and possible sources of ambient bacteria at two Great Lakes beaches in the Detroit Metropolitan area (including Windsor, ONT) were investigated.  While beaches were judged mostly safe for swimming (E. coli levels lower than state- and provincial-mandated criterion levels), bacterial community structure at the two beaches varied seasonally, with significant decreases in alpha diversity and increased relative abundance of Enterobacter (Gammaproteobacteria) at a Windsor beach; whereas, Belle Isle Beach maintained its alpha diversity and dominance by Betaproteobacteria and Actinobacteria throughout the summer; potentially pathogenic genera were present at both beaches at various times.


Developing the Fatberg Game: a framework for implementation

Barb Aylesworth, Program Coordinator, Healthy Urban Waters

This presentation will discuss the implementation for a serious game aimed at enhancing public education on sewer system obstructions in southeast Michigan. WSU researchers collaborated with game art students from another institution and helped create a video game focused on how human behavior can contribute to the growth of a "Fatberg". The use of serious games for education is growing, and some of the challenges and recommendations for researchers looking to pursue similar implementations will be shared. 


Ecological Rehabilitation in the Floodplain: Eliza Howell Park

Fai Foen, Director of Green Infrastructure, The Greening of Detroit

The construction of green stormwater infrastructure at Eliza Howell Park's Infiltration Basin presents the opportunity for landscape scale ecological rehabilitation. Learn about the project development, plant species specification, and community outreach in 3 minutes.


Infectious Diseases and One Health: Understanding the Impact in Michigan

Dr. Paul Kilgore, Associate Professor, Pharmacy, Wayne State University

The State of Michigan has a diverse population and geography that poses potential risks due to infectious diseases.  In Michigan, vector-borne and zoonotic disease surveillance provides indications where risk may be evolving and regional changes in disease rates over time suggests that some conditions are now spreading in Michigan. Future evidence-based interventions to reduce the impact of these conditions require urgent, trans-disciplinary research collaborations now.