Summer project combines outdoor water research, pharmaceuticals, and the food web

R. Christian Jones, director of Mason’s Potomac Environmental Research & Education Center (PEREC), has received a grant of $167,481 from Alexandria Renew Enterprises, a water resource recovery utility that works to improve local water quality. Jones and his co-PI’s have been tasked with studying water quality and aquatic biota and how they relate to discharges into the Potomac River. Jones is working with a number of graduate and undergraduate students as well as PEREC colleagues on the project, and they are looking at issues including excessive algae and aquatic plant growth and bacteria from sewer overflows. To do that, the researchers are collecting samples of water, sediments and animals in tidal areas of the Potomac and its tributaries. This study builds on previous work for this sponsor which began in 2013. Photo by Evan Cantwell/Creative Services/George Mason University

Two George Mason University students, Heather Nortz and Michael Rollins, both majoring in environmental science, jumped at the chance to participate in a summer project exploring the health of the freshwater Potomac River environment.

The 10-week project examines the ecosystem’s health through food web dynamics and the presence of pharmaceutical chemicals in Gunston Cove and Hunting Creek, both of which feed into the Potomac.

George Mason’s Potomac Environmental Research and Education Center coordinates the program with co-principal investigators Kim de Mutsert and Amy Fowler. Student grants came from Mason’s Office of Student Scholarship, Creative Activities and Research (OSCAR). Additional research grants came from Virginia Sea Grant and Mason’s Patriot Green Fund.

The research adds to the center’s broad spectrum of environmental inquiry and exploration. It also is invaluable to the hands-on student experience.

Read the full article on Mason News published on 8/11/2017…

To watch the OSCAR 2017 project videos, please go to:

Important Dates for Students

SPRING 2020 Semester (modified due to COVID-19)

MLK Day (university closed): Jan 20

First day of classes: Jan 21

Spring Break (extended): Mar 9-20

Dissertation/Thesis Deadline: May 8

Last day of classes: May 11

Reading Day(s): May 12

Final Exam Period: May 13-20

University Commencement: May 22 (tentative)

COVID-19 DATE CHANGES – For the complete modified spring calendar, see and for latest COVID-19 updates, see: