Ph.D. Student Testimonials

Below you will find testimonials submitted by current Environmental Health Science Ph.D. students who were willing to share their educational experiences here at Albany: 

Meredith Praamsma- Ph.D. Student, Environmental Chemistry Track
Mentor:  Dr. Patrick Parsons 

The EHS Department in the SPH at SUNY-Albany is truly a unique place. I chose to come here because of the collaboration that the SPH has with the New York State Department of Health. For the past 4 years, I have been able to conduct my research at the state health labs with many resources at my disposal. My research has focused on developing and validating analytical methods for the determination of manganese in blood, urine, and teeth, which is important for occupational monitoring and biomonitoring. I have gotten to use many techniques including GFAAS, Q-ICP-MS, SF-ICP-MS, and LA-ICP-MS. Being able to use such a broad range of techniques within my own lab has allowed me to be well-trained for future employment and to produce quality research as a student.

Aubrey Galusha-Ph.D. Student, Environmental Chemistry Track
Mentor:  Dr. Patrick Parsons

The best thing about the Department of Environmental Health Sciences, University at Albany is the real-world feel. I am doing research in the same labs, on the same equipment as Department of Health scientists, and my mentor and peers are government scientists rather than pure academics. Projects we work on are typically partnerships between the DOH and SPH, which provide a level of practicality that is unmatched in academic institutions.

I am working in a clinical lab headed by Dr. Patrick Parsons. My project deals with strontium in bones. Strontium tends to accumulate in bones because it shares much of its chemistry with calcium, and it is only slightly larger than calcium which allows it to replace calcium in the body. There are two forms of strontium; radioactive isotopes and stable isotopes. Stable strontium is found in all human bones and has been shown to help increase bone density in patients with osteoporosis. Radioactive strontium in the form of strontium-90 is harmful to bones and can cause bone pain. Strontium-90 is also used to monitor nuclear power plants because nuclear fallout is its only source. Strontium isotope ratios (especially strontium 87/strontium 86) are used primarily by archeologists to trace artifacts back to their origins; this is possible because the ratio of strontium 87 to strontium 86 is unique to regions throughout the world and has been well established. More recently this relationship is being used by forensic scientists to help identify bodies where DNA has been lost.

My project involves developing, optimizing and validating methods to look at these various types of strontium in bones and then using these methods to look at the accumulation and spatial distribution of the strontium within a bone and between bones. By doing so we may be able to learn more about how to effectively give osteoporosis patients treatment with strontium and where and what bones to monitor to determine if nuclear power plants have a leak as well as to what extent.