CLU student receives EPA fellowship

Contaminants in L.A., Ventura waterways studied

Jennifer Arceo of South Gate is receiving $46,500 to support her research and educational activities.

Photo: Brian Stethem

(THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. - May 26, 2010) A California Lutheran University senior has received a prestigious research fellowship from the United States Environmental Protection Agency and is starting a paid internship at the organization's Colorado laboratory in June.

Jennifer Arceo of South Gate is receiving $46,500 to support her research and educational activities. She is studying environmental contaminants in various waterways in Ventura and Los Angeles counties under the guidance of Grady Hanrahan, the John Stauffer Endowed Professor of Analytical Chemistry at CLU. Testing locations include Malibu Creek, the Ventura River and the Long Beach coast. Development, urbanization and the release of environmental contaminants have led to the decline of these natural ecosystems.

High levels of contaminants in the waterways may indicate poor air and water quality in the neighboring communities and could affect the health of residents. By providing a clearer picture of the physical and chemical makeup of these systems, Arceo's research may enable authorities to produce better regulatory guidelines and management strategies.

Arceo, a double major in chemistry and environmental science, spent her junior year developing methods for extracting and analyzing pesticides and trace metals from water and soil samples for her EPA project. During her senior year, she will collect and analyze data.

She will be taking the summer off from her local research to work at the Region 8 EPA Laboratory in Golden, Colo. Her project, which starts June 1, is validating a new standard operating procedure for extracting pesticides from water samples. After she is done, the method will be standardized for the EPA.

Arceo has been involved in several research projects at CLU. In her sophomore year, she worked on an interdisciplinary study that examined the correlation between people's income level and perceived risk of exposure to their actual potential for exposure to Ventura River contaminants. A former political science major, she researched the correlation between musical preference and political ideology. She was also part of a team of student interns that came up with a plan for replacing and retrofitting lighting fixtures in the residence halls, saving the university nearly $20,000 a year and preventing almost 63 tons of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere.

The EPA Greater Research Opportunities Undergraduate Fellowship program Arceo was selected for is part of the national effort to ensure that enough promising students pursue careers in environmental fields to fill the country's need. Efforts are focused on stimulating interest in environmental research at universities that receive limited federal funding.