Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Yeah Dr. Melissa –

I am thrilled to announce that, as of approximately noon yesterday (September 16), there is a newly minted Dr. (Ph.D.) in the Whitfield family

Yeah Dr. Melissa – Mom & Dad are very proud and very happy for you. ( This picture of her with her grandfather taken when she was home in June is one of the most recent I have. I hope we will have one of her graduation - with the hood and all in a few months)

A couple of weeks ago I received the following notice by email from Melissa who, up until yesterday was a (civilian) graduate student at the Royal Military College in Kingston

(The notice is slightly edited – removing the French version and scientific units since I don’t have the proper character sets and they came through garbled)


TRANSFER OF POLYCHLORINATED BIPHENYLS (PCBS) FROM CONTAMINATED SOIL TO KEY PLANT SPECIES IN REALISTIC FIELD CONDITIONSImplications for the application of phytoextraction as a persistent organic pollutant (POP) remediation strategy.

Melissa L. Whitfield Åslund Candidate PhD, Environmental Science
Supervisors: Dr. Barbara A Zeeb & Dr. Kenneth J. Reimer
16 Sep 2008 9:30 hrs SB4301, Sawyer Building, Module 3
The uptake and translocation of PCBs in plants was researched over three years in a field trial of PCB phytoextraction. The soil was contaminated with a mixture of Aroclors 1254 and 1260. The study species were Cucurbita pepo ssp pepo cv. Howden (pumpkin), Carex normalis (sedge), and Festuca arundinacea (tall fescue).

Plant and soil samples were analyzed both via gas chromatography electron capture detection (GC-ECD) for total PCB concentrations and via gas chromatography mass spectrometry (GC-MS) for individual PCB congener concentrations.

For pumpkin plants, the PCB concentration was observed to decrease exponentially within the shoot as distance from the root increased. This pattern, and the preferential mobilization of two pentachlorinated co-eluting PCB congener pairs (93/95 and 105/127) in pumpkin plant shoots, suggested that the primary PCB transfer pathway was root uptake and translocation. The PCB concentration in pumpkin plant leaves and stems increased significantly from 5.7 and 3.9, respectively, in year one to 10.1 and 9.3 , respectively, in year two. These high shoot PCB concentrations were maintained in the third year. In both years two and three, the lower parts of the pumpkin shoots achieved PCB concentrations that were greater than the soil PCB concentration. This had not been reported previously in any part of a plant shoot for PCBs. Therefore, pumpkin plants are excellent candidates for further PCB phytoextraction research.
Relatively high PCB concentrations were observed in sedge and tall fescue shoots (concentration of 20 and 39 , respectively, were observed in year 3 of the study). However, the primary transfer pathway of PCBs from soil to these shoots appeared to be soil particle contamination. Application of a sand barrier between contaminated soil and growing shoots was found to significantly reduce the shoot PCB concentration of both species and the PCB congener pattern in the plant shoots was found to be nearly identical to that of the soil. Therefore, these species may not be appropriate for phytoextraction. However, their interception of soil particles may make them good candidates for groundcover of PCB contaminated sites in future phytoextraction applications.

KEYWORDS: Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), phytoextraction, bioaccumulation factors (BAFs), uptake pathway, phytoremediation, field study
Melissa is our youngest and I suppose will always be our “baby”.

Many of my posts about our journey through life have focused on our children and grandchildren.
The entire family is mentioned in the posts about Melissa’s “re-wedding” in September 2007 (CLICK HERE and HERE). Interestingly her thesis defense occurred a year and a day after the “re-wedding”
Another post featuring Melissa is our summer visit to Kingston in 2006.

I need to say that while I am boasting and swollen with a special pride and a special joy about Melissa’s accomplishment it doesn’t take away from the fact that we are especially proud of each of our children

(Those who have read “The Shack” by William P. Young may remember the phrase “I am especially fond of … that is often used by “Papa” (his personification of God). The point being that God loves all in a special way without that “specialness” meaning that any one person is more important or more deserving of love based on their “performance”

I’m sure that I failed many times in communicating this aspect of God’s love to my children but as I grow older I begin to understand more and more what it means and I pray that as I seek to let Jesus live more fully in me that I will be able to show that type of love in my relationships with my children and with others.

God Bless


Anonymous said...

Congratulations! What a wonderful achievement.

Melvin said...

Very cool. I even understood it.

Melissa B. said...

My name is Melissa Smith Bochniak,
I was friends with your Melissa in grade the soo.
I would love to get in touch with her to catch up...could you help me?
My email is
Thanks so much!