Toxic algae blooms have become a common summer phenomenon in waterbodies throughout the Pacific Northwest. These algae blooms often contain cyanobacteria capable of producing toxins that can lead to respiratory or gastrointestinal distress in humans and other mammals, including death in extreme cases. Additionally, algae blooms lower dissolved oxygen levels in surface water, leading to hypoxic conditions that can be deadly for aquatic organisms. This course examines the role of pollutants on aquatic ecosystems, using cyanobacteria as our model to study toxicology in fresh and salt water systems.
We will explore course material through field studies, laboratory investigation, and weekly seminars to discuss current research and regional issues that affect water quality and transport of toxins throughout aquatic systems. Students will learn how to use water sampling equipment and gather field data during two field trips to Black Lake and the south Puget Sound. We will analyze these collected samples in the laboratory for microcystins, a class of liver toxins that can accumulate in vertebrates. Upon completion of the course, students will be awarded 4 graduate credits or 4 upper-division undergraduate credits in environmental toxicology with lab. Undergraduate students should come prepared to complete graduate level science, field, and lab work.
Our work will be conducted remotely, unless conditions permit us for limited in-person activities. The faculty will offer alternative assignments if conditions or illness prevent students from accessing our synchronous (scheduled) meetings.
* If conditions allow, the following activities will be in person: 2 Saturday field trips to collect water data.
SIGNATURE REQUIREMENT: Open to JR-SR. Undergraduates wishing to take this course must email the faculty with a request to join and a paragraph describing their interest in the course and previous academic experience.
Course Reference Numbers
Tuesday and Thursday nights, 6pm-10pm and two Saturday half-day field trips to collect water samples.