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Virginia Institute of Marine Science
Unger Home Page

Michael A. Unger

Associate Professor of Marine Science

Email : [[munger]]
Phone : (804) 684-7187
Office : Chesapeake Bay Hall S307, S316
Department : Environmental & Aquatic Animal Health

Education
  • B.S., Michigan State University
  • M.S., Ph.D., College of William and Mary
Research Interests

My research focuses on the ways in which the chemical and physical behavior of aquatic pollutants affects their fate and bioavailability to marine organisms.

Current Projects
  • Development of antibody based biosensors for the quantitative measurement of environmental contaminants
  • Evaluation of TBT accumulation and related effects in a gastropod species. 
  • Conducting laboratory and field studies to help understand relationships between sediment contamination, bioaccumulation and adverse biological effects in feral fish. 
  • Long-term monitoring of the fate and effects of TBT and Kepone in Chesapeake Bay.
Selected Publications
  • Unger, M. A., E. Harvey, G. G. Vadas, M. Vecchione. (In Press) Persistent Pollutants in nine species of deep-sea cephalopods. Marine Pollution Bulletin.
  • Unger, M. A., M. C. Newman, G. G. Vadas. (In Press) Predicting survival of Grass Shrimp (Palaemonetes pugio) exposed to naphthalene, fluorene and dibenzothiophene. Environ. Toxicol. Chem.
  • Bromage, E.S., G. G. Vadas, E. Harvey, M. A. Unger, S. L. Kaattari. (2007) Validation of an antibody-based biosensor for the rapid quantification of 2,4,6-trinitrotoluene (TNT) contamination in ground water and river water. Environ. Sci. Technol. 41, 7067-7072.
  • Unger, M. A., M. C. Newman, G. G. Vadas. (2007) Predicting survival of Grass Shrimp (Palaemonetes pugio) during ethylnaphthalene, dimethylnaphthalene and phenanthrene exposures differing in concentration and duration. Environ. Toxicol. Chem. 26.
  • Bromage, E.S., T. Lackie, M. A. Unger, J. Ye, S. L. Kaattari. (2007) The development of a real-time biosensor for the detection of trace levels of trinitrotoluene (TNT) in aquatic environments. Biosensors and Bioelectronics.
  • Vogelbein, W. K., M. A. Unger. 2006. Liver carcinogenesis in a non-migratory fish: The association with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon exposure. Bull. Eur. Ass. Fish. Pathol., 26(1) 11-20.
  • Luellen, D. R., G. G, Vadas, M. A. Unger. 2006. Kepone in James River fish: 1976-2002. Science of the Total Environment. 358: 286-297.
  • Rodigari, F., P. D. Carpenter, E. A. Crecelius, L. M. Ramirez and M. A. Unger. 2005. Tributyltin (6710)/ Gas Chromatographic/Mass Spectrometric Method. In: Standard Methods for the Examination of Water and Wastewater. A. D. Eaton, L. S. Clesceri, E. W. Rice, A. E. Greenberg, M. A. H. Franson (Eds.) APHA, AWWA and WEF Publishers
  • Arnold, G., M. Luckenbach , and M. A. Unger. 2004. Runoff from tomato cultivation in the estuarine environment: Biological effects of farm management practices. J. Exp. Marine Biol. Ecol. 298, 323-346.
  • Newman, M.C. and M.A. Unger. 2003. Fundamentals of Ecotoxicology, second edition. Lewis Publishers, CRC Press, Boca Raton, FL. 458 pp. 
  • Mulvey, M., M.C. Newman, W.K. Vogelbein, M.A. Unger and D.R. Ownby. 2003. Genetic structure and mtDNA diversity of Fundulus heteroclitus populations from PAH-contaminated sites. Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry 22(3). pp. 671-677.
  • Anderson, B. A., M. A. Unger, K. A. Moore. 2002. Fate of Tributyltin Contaminated Sediments in a Created Tidal Wetland. Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, Vol. 21, No. 9, pp. 1897-1902.
  • Mulvey, M., M.C. Newman, W. Vogelbein and M.A. Unger. 2002. Genetic structure of Fundulus heteroclitus from PAH-contaminated and neighboring sites in the Elizabeth and York Rivers. Aquatic Toxicology, 61, pp. 195-209.
  • Ownby, D.R., M.C. Newman, M. Mulvey, W.K. Vogelbein, M.A. Unger and L.F. Arzayus. 2002. Fish (Fundulus heteroclitus) populations with different exposure histories differ in tolerance of creosote-contaminated sediments. Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, Vol. 21, No. 9, pp. 1897-1902.
  • Hall, L.W. Jr., M.C. Scott, W.D. Killen and M. A. Unger. 2000. A Probabilistic Risk Assessment of Tributyltin in Surface Waters of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. Human and Ecological Risk Assessment. Vol. 6, No. 1, pp 141-179. 
  • Anderson, R. S., L. L. Brubacher, L. M. Ragone Calvo, M. A. Unger and E. M. Burreson. 1998. Effects of TBT and hypoxia on the progression of Perkinsis marinus infections and host defense mechanisms in Crassostrea virginica. Journal of Fish Diseases. Vol. 21, pp 371-380.
Current Students
Courses Taught
  • MS 563: Environmental Chemistry
Awards
  • Student, Michael Chasey, MS 1996 - Recipient of EPA STAR fellowship
Professional Memberships
  • Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry
Collaborative / Interdisciplinary Efforts

I am currently collaborating with Dr. Steve Kaattari (VIMS) and Dr. Erin Bromage (U Mass) on the production of antibody-based biosensors for the quantification of aquatic contaminants in environmental samples. VIMS graduate student Candace Spier is working with us and focusing her dissertation research on the development of antibody biosensors for detection of small aromatic hydrocarbons, as they are important compounds found in the water-soluble fractions derived from oil.