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Aga gives keynote at workshop at Biosphere 2

By CORY NEALON

Published August 7, 2014

Diana Aga, a UB professor of chemistry who investigates how pharmaceuticals and industrial chemicals affect the environment, delivered the keynote address yesterday at an international workshop held at Biosphere 2 in Tucson, Arizona.

A researcher at RENEW, a new interdisciplinary initiative at UB that focuses on energy, environment and water research, Aga will speak at the “Antibiotic Resistance in Agroecosystems: State of the Science” workshop, which opened on Aug. 5 and runs through Aug. 8.

Diana Aga

Biosphere 2, which sits on a sprawling science campus owned by the University of Arizona, is the site of famous science experiments in the 1990s in which small crews of people lived secluded from the rest of the world in a dome that houses an artificial ecosystem.

Funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the workshop includes experts in environmental chemistry and microbiology who work on issues associated with the occurrence and effects of antibiotics in agricultural ecosystems. They will discuss such issues as the detection, occurrence and dissipation of antibiotic resistance resulting from the use of antibiotics in animal and crop production.

Aga’s lecture, “Analytical challenges in the detection of trace antibiotics in environmental samples,” will focus on how antibiotics move through ecosystems and the difficulties in tracking them.

A recipient of the Humboldt Fellowship and Fulbright Research Fellowship, and a former postdoctoral scholar at the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology, Aga utilizes environmental mass spectrometry for trace analysis in complex matrices to investigate how pollutants are transformed in the environment and whether they pose an ecological threat.

In particular, Aga investigates various treatment processes to effectively remove pharmaceuticals in wastewater. She also studies the bioaccumulation of polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in fish from the Great Lakes. Other research that she leads examines how quantum dots and other engineered nanomaterials may impact the environment.