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Kristin Bircsak

Class of 2010
Major/Minor: Biology, Chemistry

Kristin is in a Ph.D. program in toxicology at Rutgers University.

Working under the guidance of Dr. Mindy Reynolds (biology) and Dr. Leslie Sherman (chemistry) Kristin pursued a senior capstone project exploring “The Presence of Cadmium in River Sediments and its Effects on Zebrafish.

Trace amounts of heavy metals, including cadmium, can be found naturally within the earth’s crust. Currently, there is concern about the increased amount of heavy metal present in the environment due to anthropogenic sources. These metals, especially in an aquatic environment, can have toxic effects on the surrounding life. This study focuses on determining the presence of cadium in the Chester River sediments in its various forms and its effects on zebrafish.

A sequential extraction will be used in combination with flame atomic absorption spectrometry to determine the concentration of cadmium present. The zebrafish adults and larvae will be treated with similar concentrations of cadmium in order to simulate a long term exposure. The developmental and behavioral effects will be observed and measured. The results from this experiment will lead to a better understanding of the long term effects of cadmium exposure so that heavy metal pollution can eventually be eliminated.