Quinnipiac University

Professor awarded grant to conduct research in Quinnipiac River

July 26, 2021

Courtney McGinnis studies water quality in a location on the Quinnipiac River

Courtney McGinnis, a professor of biology at Quinnipiac, is leading river testing with students this summer in the Quinnipiac River.

The $13,000 research project entails collecting water samples from locations in Wallingford, Hamden and North Haven. The team analyzes the samples via gas chromatography-mass spectrophotometry (GC-MS) for the presence of pesticides, phthalates or plasticizers.

“Over the last seven years we have modified our sampling locations based on our findings and accessibility of the river,” she said. “With the addition of a new GC-MS this year, we have expanded our capability to utilize the autosampler.”

McGinnis has worked with 10 different students on this project throughout the past seven years.

The grant, awarded by The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven, also supports two research students. The scope of last year’s grant had to be modified because of COVID-19, so those funds have been approved to use for this year’s research project.

“Our project will address the need for water-quality monitoring along the Quinnipiac River to inform and support decision-making around actions targeted at water-quality improvement,” McGinnis said.

The water-quality monitoring needs were determined through consideration of past study results and the classification of the Quinnipiac River as an impaired water body, she said.

McGinnis’ students are involved in all aspects of the research — from collecting samples and preparing samples for analysis, to analyzing them via GC-MS and presenting their findings.

The next steps of the research involve continuing to sample over the next three weeks and then presenting their findings to the foundation in October.

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