Picnic Day is an annual open house event held in April at UC Davis. It typically draws more than 50,000 visitors to the campus to learn about the research and engage in family fun activities.

The 'toxin hunt' activity organized by the UC Davis Superfund Research Program
The ‘toxin hunt’ activity organized by the UC Davis Superfund Research Program

We appreciated the invitation from the UC Davis Superfund Research Center to our Trainees to come down and participate with them in outreach. Dr. Craig Marcus, Training Core Leader, traveled with two trainees, Erin Madeen (Project 1) and Andrea Knecht (Project 3).

OSU SRP Trainee Erin Madeen (Project 1) spent time chatting with Michael Denison, (PI, Project 5) of the UC Davis Superfund Center.
OSU SRP Trainee Erin Madeen (Project 1) spent time chatting with Michael Denison, (PI, Project 5) of the UC Davis Superfund Center.

UC Davis invited us to display posters about our Center within their display area.  Having the OSU SRP there was great, because UC Davis could direct their attention to our work to learn specifically about PAHs; how people are exposed and how they affect human and environmental health.

Besides research posters, the booth had over 125 children engaged in a ‘toxin hunt’ activity. The game was an excellent way for them to understand how SRP research can impact their health.  The parents became very interested in the toxins that are being studied with the Superfund Research Program.

OSU SRP Trainee Andrea Knecht (Project 3) chats with visitors about her zebrafish research
OSU SRP Trainee Andrea Knecht (Project 3) chats with visitors about her zebrafish research


Picnic Day was a great opportunity for Erin and Andrea to gain more experience in outreach by sharing posters with attendees and researchers. Dr. Marcus and the trainees also had opportunities to interact individually with the leadership and project leaders of several projects in the UC Davis Superfund Center to make additional connections and establish new collaborations. We look forward to hosting UC Davis trainees for our Research Day and other exchange opportunities.

Our Center is multi-investigator, multi-disciplinary and multi-institutional. In partnership with Pacific Northwest National Laboratories (PNNL), and other stakeholders and collaborators, we are developing new technologies to identify and quantitate known and novel polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) found at many of the nation’s Superfund sites and assess the risk they pose for human health.

Women@Energy: Dr. Katrina Waters  Photo credit: energy.gov
Women@Energy: Dr. Katrina Waters
Photo credit: energy.gov

The research projects in our Center collect large amounts of molecular and chemical data. This data includes measuring PAH mixtures in environmental samples, determining toxicity of PAH mixtures, and the mechanism(s) of action for these toxic endpoints.

Our Biostatistics and Modeling Core, lead by Dr. Katrina Waters, greatly enhances our Center by providing expert statistical and bioinformatics data analysis support and software solutions for data management and interpretation.

Katrina Waters recently became the Deputy Director for the Biological Sciences Division at the Pacific Northwest National Lab (PNNL). Her expertise is in computational biology, and she works collaboratively with all of the research projects and co-authors with them.

This multidisciplinary training of toxicology students and fellows at OSU and PNNL is a unique strength of our program. Our SRP Trainees have benefited greatly from the PNNL partnership.  Students have gone to the lab in Richland, WA to be trained in Bioinformatics, Statistics and Study Design. More training workshops are being scheduled for this summer and fall.

Waters presented at SOT’s FutureTox II: In Vitro Data and In Silico Models for Predictive Toxicology on January 16, 2014. Her talk was entitled Computational Tools for Integration of High Throughout Screening (HTS) Data. She utilized examples from the collaboration with Robyn Tanguay and his zebrafish assay for toxicity testing (Project 3).

Susan Tilton
Susan Tilton works with Dr. Katrina Waters and the OSU SRP Biostatistics and Modeling Core Group

Dr. Susan Tilton, also from PNNL,  presented at FutureTox as well. The title of her presentation was ‘Pathway-based prediction of tumor outcome for environmental PAH mixtures’.  In this study, they developed a mechanism-based approach for prediction of tumor outcome after dermal exposure to PAHs and environmental PAH mixtures.  Their model was successfully utilized to distinguish early regulatory events during initiation linked to tumor outcome and shows the utility of short-term initiation studies in predicting the carcinogenic potential of PAHs and PAH mixtures.

“Dr. Waters and her group have proven to be of great value in not just the interpretation of extremely large and complicated data sets, but also in the “front-end” study design, which results in enrichment of the subsequent data obtained.”
Dr. David Williams, OSU SRP Center Director

A new monthly seminar series will be held on the third Thursday of each month to highlight the research of the trainees.  The presentations begin at 12 noon and will be in the Hallie Ford Center room 115 on the OSU Campus.  Our partners at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) will participate via video conferencing.   All are welcome to the presentations.


12-12:30 P.M.

Hallie Ford Center room 115

Printable flyer

Andy Larkin
Andy Larkin


Mobile maps, apps, and augmented reality for personalized air quality informatics

Andy Larkin, Ph.D. candidate, SRP Trainee

Dept. of Environmental and Molecular Toxicology





Erin Madeen


Human in vivo kinetics and dynamics of high molecular weight PAH, dibenzo(def,p) chrysene, utilizing liquid sample accelerator mass spectrometry

Erin Madeen, Ph.D. candidate, SRP Trainee

Dept. of Environmental and Molecular Toxicology



If you have questions or need special assistance, please contact Naomi Hirsch, 541-737-8105.

Recently the EPA collaborated with the NIEHS  Superfund Research Program (SRP) for the Risk eLearning webinar three-part series on  “Using GIS Tools to Analyze, Compute, and Predict Pollution“.

Andy Larkin
Andy Larkin

This final session focused on Community Engagement  and included a presentation by one of our trainees, Andy Larkin, entitled Making models personal: increasing the impact of atmospheric pollutant models by predicting pollutant levels at Android and iPhone locations.

Over 110 people participated on the webinar. Andy provided an outstanding overview of the mobile app he developed and included future directions and needs.

Presenting as part of this Risk eLearning Series let us demonstrate how GIS chips in smartphones could be used to provide personalized information about air quality. ~Andy Larkin

View webinar archive online
For presentation abstracts and the first two GIS webinars, go to the SRP Risk eLearning webpage.

Key points from Larkin’s presentation

  • Smartphones are one of the newest methods available for collecting location-based information. There are currently more than one billion active smartphone users in the world (source: CBSNews.com).
  • Smartphones can identify a person’s location and pollutant models can predict pollution levels at a given location.  By linking smartphones with pollutant models, it is hypothesized that multiple pollutants can be predicted at smartphone locations.  Geographical constraints are based on the constraint of the underlying pollutant models, and can conceivably cover the extent of the entire world.
  • Sampling and retaining locations at regular intervals can provide a well documented past of predicted pollutant levels at smartphone locations.  Input from the smartphone user about intended future locations can potentially be used to predict pollutant levels at future locations.
  • Sampling data acquired from a group representative of the population can be used to make inferences about spatial and temporal trends regarding pollution level conditions for the entire population
  • To test the proof of principle that smartphones can be linked with environmental maps, Larkin created PM2.5, PM10, and ozone hourly forecast maps for the state of Oregon.  Maps forecast predicted exposure levels at air monitoring stations using Seasonal Integrated Moving Average (SIMA) time series models.  Forecasts at air monitoring stations are then interpolated to cover the entire state using universal Kriging for PM2.5 and PM10, and inverse distance weighing for ozone.  These modeling methods were chosen because they can be validated and evaluated using prediction errors.
  • The future in personal monitoring is combining complementary technologies.
Step 1: The smartphone determines its location and current time, and sends the information to a cloud storage database as a .csv file
Step 1: The smartphone determines its location and current time, and sends the information to a cloud storage database as a .csv file
Step 2: After location values are sent to the cloud storage database, the predicted pollutant concentrations for all models within the database are determined for the given latitude and longitude coordinates
Step 3: Predicted pollutant values and the original information are then returned to the smartphone in a .csv file format