Jacquie Smith

Jacquie and Nick with the microplastic sample collected at Plotter Kill in Rotterdam. The sampling net is 3 meters long and has 0.335 mm mesh.


My current research focus is the extent of microplastic pollution in tributaries of the Mohawk River. In June-July, my undergrad-uate research students, Emily Caruso ’21 and Nick Wright ‘21, and I sampled 22 tributaries and the upper Mohawk River (in Rome). The first photo shows Nick and me with the sample collected in the Plotter Kill in Rotterdam. All of the streams were sampled during relatively low-flow conditions; the Hans Groot Kill on the Union College campus was also sampled at high flow. The second photo shows Nick and Emily holding the sampling net in the Hans Groot Kill during a downpour as the stream level rises by the minute. In the third photo, Nick and Emily are holding the loaded net on the bank of the Hans Groot Kill. We’ve found microplastics in all of the samples, along with a lot of macro-plastics in the high-flow Hans Groot Kill sample. I presented preliminary results of our work at the 2018 Annual Meeting of the Geological Society of America. A rough estimate of the annual microplastic load reaching the main channel of the Mohawk River from the Hans Groot Kill alone is on the order of several million particles!
I’m also teaching Environmental Geology (GEO 112), which is fun. Every day brings us new environmental news items to discuss!

Nick and Emily sampling the Hans Groot Kill on the Union College campus during a downpour in June 2018.


Nick and Emily holding the loaded sampling net on the bank of the Hans Groot Kill after collecting the high-flow sample in June 2018.

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