Mason Stahl

Collecting groundwater samples at our field site in Vietnam


This past year has been an exciting and en-joyable one on the teaching and research fronts. In March, I conducted fieldwork in Vietnam where I am studying high levels of naturally occurring arsenic in groundwater. On this same trip, two of my colleagues and I began some preliminary work looking at the ages and sources of carbon exported by the Red River. This work entailed following the course of the river from the coast of Vietnam all the way up to the Chinese border, collecting water samples along the way. It was great to travel to parts of the country that I had never visited before and the mountainous areas in the very north of Vietnam are a spectacular place to visit.
Over the summer I had three research students (Jack Wassik ’19, Connor Horan ’19, and Jaclyn Gehring ’20) working with me on a newly funded project studying carbon cycling in river systems. We conducted fieldwork on the Hudson and Mohawk River watersheds, collecting river samples for geochemical analysis and laboratory experiments aimed at identifying the carbon that is actively cycled in these river net-works. The students were instrumental in the fieldwork and laboratory experiments and we are beginning to work through the results. I’m also very excited to announce that construction on my lab was completed this summer! The new space has been immediately put to use with my summer research and thesis students and I look forward to continuing to develop the lab.
This past year I began research on a new project examining the role of groundwater pumping on global elemental cycles and exploring the environmental implications. The initial work has been published Groundwater and I’m looking forward to delving further into this area. I’m also getting started on a newly funded project, along with co-PIs from the USGS, Columbia, and U. Delaware, which aims to further the understanding of the processes driving the significant variability in arsenic concentrations found in aquifers around the world.
Last spring was my first time teaching Introduction to Environmental Studies and I really enjoyed it! The class dynamic was great and I always looked forward to hearing the students’ perspectives on the science and policy issues during our weekly discussion sessions. During the spring term I also hosted Professor David Boutt as part of his touring lecture series as the Geological Society of America Birdsall-Dreiss Distinguished lecturer. He presented his exciting research in hydrogeology to a full audience of Environmental Science and Geology students and faculty. I’m currently teaching Groundwater Hydrology and developing a new class called Exploring Environmental Data, in which students will learn programming and data analytics skills and apply them to interesting questions in the environmental sciences. I will be teaching Exploring Environmental Data for the first time this winter term and I am really looking forward to it.
Things have been very exciting on the family end as well. Candice, Norah, and I moved to Niskayuna this summer and are settling into our new home. Norah is now 17 months old and she is running around, chatting up a storm and has developed an obsession with Paul Simon’s music! With Candice having started Nurse Practitioner school and Norah in daycare part of the week, the whole family is now “in school”. This past year has been an enjoyable one and I’m looking forward to the coming year!

My thesis students and I collecting river water samples for laboratory incubation experiments

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