Virginia Institute of Marine Science

Aquatic Health Sciences

PollutionScientists in the Department of Aquatic Health Sciences focus on chemicals and biological factors that can deleteriously affect the health of aquatic ecosystems.  Unhealthy outcomes can have direct and indirect consequences for human populations as well.  Our research examines not only effects and identities, but also sources and fates of contaminants and pathogens in marine, estuarine and freshwater environments.

Faculty and Staff

Our faculty and technical staff comprises a diverse group of environmental chemists, toxicologists, ecotoxicologists, biochemists, geneticists, immunologists, microbiologists, and pathobiologists.  Because of the interdisciplinary nature of environmental problems, collaborative efforts are common between researchers with diverse expertise both within and outside of VIMS.

Advisory Service and Education

We pursue research questions at all levels of biological organization from the molecular and cellular to that of organisms and populations.  Our activities reflect a strong commitment to provide technical advice to those who regulate and protect the waters and natural resources of the Commonwealth and coastal ocean.

Some of our current projects include:

  • The effects of carcinogenic contaminants in sediments on population genetics and adaptation
  • The interaction of contaminants, nutrition and pathogens in the disease process
  • The role of mycobacteria and other emerging pathogens on animal and human health
  • The identification and role of emerging chemicals in endocrine disruption and reproduction
  • The development of molecular probes and other techniques to study immune defense mechanisms
  • The use of molecular methods to identify and characterize pathogens, populations and disease resistance elements in bivalve molluscs
  • Use of immunological techniques to develop sensors to detect contaminants
Our program attracts students with diverse backgrounds and research interests.  Our graduates typically find employment as teachers and researchers at universities, in local, state, national and international agencies, and in private corporations.