New England EPA Administrator Curt Spaulding told chilling stories of environmental disasters to students in Prof. Nicole Champagne’s community health class recently. His campus visit was part of the celebration of the agency's 40-year anniversary.
“You are all too young to remember the visible smog and contaminated water,” said Spaulding. “The EPA began in response to severe water pollution throughout the United States. One defining moment of the environmental movement was when the Cayahoga River in Ohio became so polluted that it actually caught fire.”
Spaulding encouraged students to consider a career with the EPA since many employees will retire within the next few years.
“We’ve accomplished a lot the last 40 years but we have so much more to do,” he said. “At UMass Lowell, you are on the cutting edge. You’re lucky. You’re getting well trained to continue the work of the EPA.”
Spaulding was joined by Lowell City Councilor Rodney Elliott who works at the regional EPA office along with Bill Lovely '92.
Prof. Eugene Rogers, chair of Clinical Laboratories and Nutritional Sciences, gave Spaulding a tour of his laboratory to showcase current research with the EPA's Computational Toxicology Research Program.
One of 100 international partners in the program, UMass Lowell is screening selected nanomaterials targeted by the EPA for their potential toxicity by determining the degree of oxidative damage they exert when they come in contact with biological systems.
“Our goal is to develop the screening data that can be computed to predict toxicity in humans without using animals,” said Rogers.