Alison Zachritz

Alison 3

Graduate Student

I am a PhD candidate studying PFAS (per- and poly fluoroalkyl substances) in freshwater food webs. PFAS, commonly referred to as “forever chemicals” are a family of more than 10,000 man-made chemicals and are frequently found in consumer products like non-stick pans and waterproof clothing as well as industrial products like firefighting foam. These contaminants have entered waterways through both direct release (e.g., manufacturing plants) and diffuse contamination. As a result, PFAS are now widely distributed in the environment. While these chemicals have been associated with a host of adverse human health effects including cancer, thyroid disease, and low birthweight, less is known about their movement through and impact on aquatic food webs.

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Using both field studies and laboratory experiments, I investigate eco-physiological processes like contaminate uptake, bioaccumulation, and trophic transfer. I’m also interested in interacting stressors and how the impact of PFAS may be affected by other environmental factors (e.g., nutrients, introduced species). I hope this research provides deeper insights as to how PFAS impacts aquatic ecosystems and provides regulators and resource managers with important information as they evaluate the management of contaminants, like PFAS, in freshwater.

Alison Full Picture

Prior to joining the Stream and Wetland Ecology Lab at Notre Dame, I worked as an environmental consultant, first at the Great Lakes Environmental Center as a field biologist on the EPA’s National Coastal Conditions Assessment sampling water, sediment, fish, and benthic invertebrates on Lake Superior and then for four years at Nova Consulting & Engineering in NYC on stormwater, wetland, and environmental permitting projects.