Thea M Edwards, Ph.D.

Biography

Dr. Thea Edwards is a Supervisory Research Biologist and Branch Chief of Biochemistry and Physiology at the Columbia Environmental Research Center (CERC) in Missouri. Her current research investigates the effects of environmental stressors on aquatic animals. She has particular expertise in endocrine disruption and nitrate-related ecotoxicology. Before joining USGS, Dr. Edwards represented the United States as a Fulbright Scholar in the Okavango Delta in Botswana.

As a group, CERC’s Biochemistry and Physiology Branch conducts diverse biological studies to understand how environmental stressors and water quality affect the health of fishes, amphibians, and freshwater mussels. Current projects investigate hypoxia, contaminants, and nutrient deficiencies. The group is especially interested in how stressors change gene expression and physiology to induce disease, inflammation, infertility, or other negative health outcomes in aquatic wildlife.

Additionally, Branch environmental DNA (eDNA) projects provide powerful information for resource managers as they address invasive and endangered species challenges. With eDNA technology, our scientists can detect the presence of a species by taking a water sample. This makes detection, monitoring, and management of both endangered and invasive species less expensive and more effective.  

To accomplish our mission, we collaborate broadly with other USGS scientists, academic partners, and private companies on mutually beneficial research and development needs. The work of our dedicated and experienced staff is supported by the world class aquaculture and laboratory facilities at CERC. We share and disseminate our findings through scientific publication and public outreach, and, working with USGS data release protocols, we are making all our data universally accessible to current and future stakeholders.

 

Education

Ph.D. Biology, University of Florida 2005

M.S., Botany, University of Florida, 1997

M.S., Environmental Horticulture, University of Florida, 1994

B.S., Horticulture, Virginia Tech, 1991

 

Professional Experience

2018 – present: Branch Chief, Biochemistry and Physiology, USGS Columbia Environmental Research Center, Columbia, MO

2014 – 2018: Research Assistant Professor, Biology, University of the South, Sewanee, TN

2016: Fulbright Scholar, U.S. Department of State and the University of Botswana Okavango Research Institute, Maun, Botswana

2011 – 2014: Assistant Professor, Biological Sciences, Louisiana Tech University, Ruston, LA

2009 – 2011: Research Assistant Professor, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and Pharmacology, Tulane University, New Orleans, LA