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Building 134
P.O. Box 5000
Upton, NY 11973-5000
phone 631 344-2345
fax 631 344-3368

managed for the U.S. Department of Energy
by Brookhaven Science Associates, a company
founded by Stony Brook University and Battelle

News Release

Number: 03-19
Released: March 13, 2003
Contact: Mona S. Rowe, 631 344-5056 or Peter Genzer, 631 344-3174
Writer: Patrice Pages

Brookhaven Lab and Stony Brook U.
Open New Environmental Center

UPTON, NY - With funding from the U.S. Department of Energy and the National Science Foundation, Brookhaven National Laboratory and Stony Brook University have opened a new center for scientists investigating how contaminants affect the environment. Called the Center for Environmental Molecular Science, the new initiative has been established in collaboration with Penn State University and Temple University.

“Until now, most environmental research has been done by scientists working within their own disciplines, but there is a limit to what can be accomplished this way,” said center director and Stony Brook professor Richard Reeder. “We created this center to bring together scientists from a variety of disciplines so that we can be better prepared to tackle major issues, such as cleanup efforts at nuclear waste sites and the behavior of contaminants in water.”

Scientists and students at the new Center for Environmental Molecular Science will use Brookhaven’s National Synchrotron Light Source. Pictured at the Light Source are (from left) A.J. Francis, Ralph James, Clare Grey, Creighton Wirick, Richard Reeder, and Doon Gibbs. Francis, James, Wirick, and Gibbs are Brookhaven scientists. Grey and Reeder are professors at Stony Brook. (Hi-res jpeg version of this image.)

The new center will bring together scientists working in areas as diverse as physics, chemistry, geosciences, microbiology, materials science, marine science, and waste technology. They will share the use of facilities at Brookhaven and Stony Brook.

For example, to study the chemical composition of soil contaminants, scientists use a device called an x-ray microprobe, set up at Brookhaven’s National Synchrotron Light Source. The technique focuses x-ray beams to about one-millionth of a meter, which is the scale required to determine how contaminants are distributed among soil components. The technique has been so successful that the Light Source is adding a new microprobe, with funding from the Department of Energy’s Office of Basic Energy Sciences and Office of Biological and Environmental Research.

An important aspect of the new center is student participation, according to Brookhaven scientist A.J. Francis, one of the center’s two associate directors, along with Stony Brook professor Clare Grey. “We would like to involve students in environmental research,” said Francis, whose own work has lead to a patented process for cleaning contaminated soils and incinerator ash with citric acid, naturally occurring soil bacteria, and sunlight. Adds Reeder, “It’s a good way to get students excited about pursuing a career in science.”