Ongoing Collaborative Research Activities

The ORNL Mercury SFA continues to engage a number of key collaborators in the project.

Funded Collaborators

Judy Wall

Judy Wall

University of Missouri

Dr. Judy Wall works on a variety of research areas in the University of Missouri Biochemistry Division including environmental microbiology, bioremediation of toxic metals, and the genetics and biochemistry of sulfate-reducing bacteria. Dr. Wall is a member of the DOE Biological and Environmental Research Advisory Committee, the Systems Biology Knowledgebase (KBase) science advisory committee, and Chair of the ORNL BioEnergy Sciences Center Science Advisory Board. She was editor in chief of Applied and Environmental Microbiology from 1995-2001 and served on the editorial boards of the Journal of Bacteriology, Applied and Environmental Microbiology, Environmental Microbiology, and F1000 Biology section. She is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Academy of Microbiology and was the 2014 SEC Professor of the Year for the University of Missouri.

Cynthia Gilmour

Cynthia Gilmour

Smithsonian Research Institution

Cynthia Gilmour (Smithsonian Environmental Research Center) has 30+ years experience studying the mercury methylation process at multiple scales and in laboratory and field settings. Her research group studies the biogeochemistry of mercury in the environment, with an emphasis on the microbial mercury methylation process in sediments and soils. Major research programs included studies of mercury in the Florida Everglades, Chesapeake Bay and the adjoining continental shelf, the METAALICUS whole-watershed mercury addition study at the Experimental Lakes Area in Ontario, recent field trials of activated carbon as a potential remediation tool for Hg-contaminated sediments and soils, and most recently development and testing of molecular tools to assess hgcAB+ in nature. She has published more than 80 research papers in the subject area, including seminal papers on the influence of sulfate on Hg methylation, the isolation and characterization of Hg-methylating microbes, and the bioavailability of Hg for microbial methylation. Her lab maintains an extensive collection of Hg-methylating microbes. Dr. Gilmour has served on a number of advisory boards including the EPA Science Advisory Board, the San Francisco Bay Mercury Studies Program, Chesapeake Bay Program’s Scientific and Technical Advisory Board, and the technical committees for the International Conferences on Mercury as a Global Pollutant..

Non-Funded Collaborators

In FY15, we collaborated with the DuPont-sponsored South River Science Team (SRST), enabling us to compare similar mercury cycling studies in South River, Virginia. Scott Brooks is a co-lead on SRST's Remedial Options Team—Lab and Small Scale Field Testing.

Although the SFA's primary objective is fundamental science, it is important that project personnel know how their science can support broader DOE programmatic objectives, such as environmental remediation and long-term stewardship of the Oak Ridge Reservation. As DOE's Oak Ridge Office of Environmental Management (OREM) continues its legacy cleanup mission at the Y-12 National Security Complex and at ORNL, understanding how mercury may be transformed under transient biogeochemical conditions is essential. Such needs have been outlined in two recent OREM reports: Strategic Plan for Mercury Remediation at the Y-12 National Security Complex and Mercury Technology Development Plan for Remediation of the Y-12 Plant and East Fork Poplar Creek.

Eric Pierce is ORNL's point of contact for the DOE Office of Environmental Management (EM) headquarters and the OREM applied research and technology development program; he also participated in both mercury strategy reports published by OREM. The goal of these programs is to develop new or adapt existing remediation approaches and technologies to enable efficient cleanup of the nation's legacy waste sites. In this role, Dr. Pierce and others will have the opportunity to translate scientific discovery into information relevant to OREM and the broader DOE complex. Regular interactions will occur with local DOE staff (Elizabeth Phillips and Laura Wilkerson) and site-specific advisory panels to ensure information exchange.


The ORNL Mercury SFA is sponsored by the Subsurface Biogeochemical Research (SBR) program within the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Biological and Environmental Research.