Welcome to the website of Anthony Carpi's research group in the Department of Sciences at John Jay College of the City University of New York. This site provides information on our research projects, the people involved, our laboratory, and opportunities to join us. Principal themes of the group include the biogeochemistry of environmental mercury, methods to teach scientific process skills including undergraduate research training, and environmental forensics.
Mercury is a persistent and complex environmental pollutant. Mercury advisories on fishing resource exist in every U.S. state, and it is the only pollutant for which the number of advisories continues to increase. The environmental load of mercury is fed by both natural and anthropogenic sources, and it is further characterized by a cycle in which mercury deposited to soil and water surfaces is remitted to the atmosphere. The Mercury Laboratory that we have built at John Jay College examines the mechanisms of reduction and subsequent emission of mercury from environmental surfaces such as soils. Studies in our lab have demonstrated that mercury reduction and transport is associated with incident radiation, and especially ultraviolet light, and inversely correlated with the humic constituents in soil. Research in our group includes a combination of laboratory and field studies to individualize the processes and mechanisms affecting mercury transport, and the environmental conditions that affect mercury mobility. For more information about this work see our list of publications.
Forensic techniques are increasingly being applied to investigate crime in which humans are not the primary target. These may include the illegal release of environmental pollutants or the taking of protected or endangered wildlife. Our lab studies the use and application of forensic techniques to environmental crimes. Most recently, we have launched a study examining animal starvation towards developing a method to determine a time-course profile of the starvation event based on sequential analysis of δ13C and δ15N concentrations measured by continuous flow-IRMS in the tail hair of recovering horses as well as their food source. For more information about this work see our list of publications.
Teaching Scientific Process
Science is both a body of knowledge and the process by which that knowledge is obtained. Unfortunately, traditional science education focuses on the former while providing little perspective on the processes that contribute to the scientific endeavor. This leads to a distortion of the nature of scientific discoveries and a lack of public understanding and trust in science.
One powerful mechanism for teaching scientific process is to introduce students to scientific research. Over the past decade, our group has worked to expand the involvement of undergraduates in scientific research by building the Program for Research Initiatives for Science Majors (PRISM) at John Jay College and establishing the capstone course FOS402: Research Internships for Undergraduates. These and other service programs we have established have contributed to significant improvements in science graduation rates and a surge in the number of students moving on to graduate school from John Jay College, the largest Hispanic-serving institution in the Northeastern United States.
Unfortunately the bulk of undergraduates do not have the opportunity to conduct scientific research. To address the shortcomings of traditional science education for these students, our group established the educational website Visionlearning in 2000. This site provides high-quality, accessible, educational modules in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) that convey both the knowledge gained by science and the process by which that knowledge is obtained. Our flagship series of modules, the Process of Science, are targeted to explicitly teach the practice of science and demystify the work of scientists.