U.S. Geological Survey Research Scientist Recognized for Advancing Exposure Science

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U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Scientist Dana Kolpin was presented the International Environmental Award by Reciphram celebrating his research on the occurrence, sources, fate, and effects of environmental contaminants such as pharmaceuticals and pesticides.

Dana Kolpin has led integrated science teams for the USGS combined Environmental Health Programs (Toxic Substances Hydrology and Contaminants Biology) since 1998. Through his leadership, the teams are working on national-scale source-to-receptor studies to understand the role of contaminants in the environment. These efforts are done in collaboration with academic, governmental, and industry colleagues domestically and internationally.

Dana was recently recognized by Recipharm, a contract development and manufacturing organization in the pharmaceutical industry, as its 2019 International Environmental Award recipient for his collaborative and pioneering approach to exploring the potential health risks of exposure to contaminants, including pharmaceuticals and pesticides, in the environment.

Picture of a Dana Kolpin

Dana Kolpin, USGS Scientist (Public domain.)

This award acknowledges the scientific contribution Dana has made through more than 230 papers and reports he has authored or coauthored to date. His seminal environmental exposures article "Pharmaceuticals, hormones, and other organic wastewater contaminants in U.S. streams, 1999-2000: A national reconnaissance," published in 2002, remains the most heavily cited paper in Environmental Science & Technology. In addition, his team’s research has been highlighted in Discover and Time magazines and has received the USGS Shoemaker Award for Communication Product Excellence and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Research and Development’s bronze medal.

Dana has a passion for inspiring early career scientists and has formally and informally mentored many throughout his career. Together they continue to build an understanding of environmental contaminants using a thoughtfully balanced, non-advocacy approach.  Determining the occurrence and distribution of a contaminant in the environment is a critical first step and, when followed by a continuum of research to understand if and how exposure results in adverse effects, provides the unbiased information USGS stakeholders need to prioritize resource management decisions.   

Dana currently leads the Food Resources Integrated Science Team, which studies the movement of contaminants and pathogens associated with food production through watersheds and aquifers to water resources where exposure is possible. That information is used to understand if there are adverse effects upon exposure and to develop decision tools to protect health.