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Pfiesteria' Finder to Speak


SYRACUSE, N.Y. - Dr. JoAnn Burkholder, who helped discover the toxic Pfiesteria complex that has been associated with major fishkills in the coastal waters of North Carolina, will speak next week at the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF).

Burkholder is a professor at North Carolina State University and director of the university's Center for Applied Aquatic Ecology. She was a leading member of the team of researchers that identified the microscopic, single-celled organisms in 1988.

Pfiesteria has been associated with widespread lesions that kill fish in coastal areas. The organism had been found in coastal waters from Delaware to North Carolina. Scientists believe they are a natural part of marine ecosystems, but that changes in water quality, particularly high concentrations of nitrogen and phosphorous, encourage their growth to the point where they are dangerous to fish.

Burkholder's presentation at ESF is titled "The Toxic Pfiesteria Complex: A Story of Water Pollution, Fish Kills and Human Health at the Science/Policy Border." She will speak 4 to 5 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 30, in the conference room in the basement of ESF's Moon Library.

Burkholder's widely reported research over the last 25 years has focused on the effect of nutrient pollution on algal blooms and seagrass
disappearance. She has written more than 70 peer-reviewed science articles and has received numerous awards for her research and environmental education efforts, including the Conservationist of the Year Award in Science from the National Wildlife Federation and the Scientific Freedom and Responsibility Award from the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Burkholder's presentation kicks off ESF's spring Women in Scientific and Environmental Professions Speaker Series. Also scheduled to speak on campus this spring are:

  • Dr. Marilyn L. Fogel, senior scientist at the geophysical laboratory at the Carnegie Institute of Washington, 4 to 5 p.m. Feb. 20, "Searching for Life on Mars: Would We Recognize It if We Found It? Chemical Clues to Life."
  • Dr. Susan Stout, research project leader with the U.S. Forest Service at its Northeastern Research Station in Irvine, Pa.,
    3 to 4:30 p.m. March 27, "Are We Asking the Right Questions? Thoughts about a Silviculture and Biophysical Forestry Research Agenda for North America."
  • Frances Spivy-Weber, executive director of the Mono Lake Committee, Lee Vining, Calif., 4 to 5 p.m. April 17, "Environmental Organization: A Woman's Local, National, and International Leadership Experience."