Alexia ( Lexi ) Duncan Wisconsin State Laboratory of Hygiene
the fellowship , and , in turn , the Wisconsin State Laboratory of Hygiene has given me a purpose in my life and allows me to help protect environmental public health .
Lexi collects air samples ( gas-phase and aerosols ) for PFAS analysis using a high-volume air sampler . Photo : Wisconsin State Laboratory of Hygiene
My project entails first building field and laboratory expertise in per- and polyfluoroalkyl ( PFAS ) science by learning , developing and applying methods for sampling and laboratory analysis of various environmental matrices ( i . e ., precipitation , air , soils and sediments , and wastewater ) for 33 PFAS . Then I will bring on a method to analyze these samples for total organic fluorine ( TOF ) using combustion ion chromatography –— a novel method that will provide a general measure for total PFAS . Finally , I am developing talking points for the regulatory and scientific community on how TOF can be used to advance regulatory and science goals .
The fellowship has been an excellent fit and has enabled me to continue my education with a hands-on approach . It has also allowed me to network with people from different environmental fields . The best part about my fellowship is processing samples from field collection through sample analysis . The driving factor for my work is knowing I am identifying an environmental contaminant that is causing harm to people and the environment . This work ,
“ Lexi ’ s positive impact on the laboratory cannot be overstated . She has integrated herself into several new and exciting PFAS-focused initiatives , allowing us to push forward more effectively on those projects and document successful outcomes for study sponsors . Her energy knows no bounds and her willingness to take on new projects helps advance and showcase the laboratory ’ s capabilities . And last , but certainly not least , her positive attitude , work ethic and teamcentric skills set an infectious example for others at the laboratory .”
– Martin Shafer , PhD , senior scientist , research lead and mentor , Wisconsin State Laboratory of Hygiene
We have established a wastewaterbased epidemiology program to detect SARS-CoV-2 trends in seven counties of Northeast Texas . I help identify and recruit wastewater treatment facilities ( WWTF ), extract wastewater , manage data and conduct epidemiology analyses . This work is done in collaboration with WWTFs and our regional health department .
With an environmental health professional background and an infection control academic background , this project marries two fields I am passionate about and is a perfect fit for me . The cliché answer to what drives me to do this work is to say my desire to help people . But that sentiment is true , not just for me , but for most people in the public health field . I am lucky I found a field that helps others and happens to be incredibly fascinating and exciting work . g
Guinevere prepares wastewater samples under the hood , following proper safety precautions . Photo : PHLET
“ The fellowship has had a positive impact on PHLET by helping to build the wastewater monitoring program in Northeast Texas in multiple ways . The data have been able to assist partners in assessing the community prevalence of COVID-19 outside of hospitalization and determine next steps needed for response activities . Guinevere has assisted with the wastewater sampling design , collection and processing . She has also helped us expand the number of WWTFs and to assist with data recording , management and analysis . Lastly , Guinevere ’ s presence and willingness to learn has encouraged us to establish a monthly wastewater journal club and a professional development group . These activities have helped us to disseminate the information locally to our public health partners .”
– Michelle Crum , PhD , responsible official and mentor , PHLET