Two College of Charleston professors received a $334,630 grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) that will give undergraduate students the opportunity to study the transport and transformation of pharmaceuticals in the environment.

This three-year grant will provide laboratory research opportunities for at least eighteen undergraduate students and support an outreach program in partnership with the College’s Literacy Outreach Initiative (LOI) to teach students at seven Charleston area Title 1 elementary schools about the importance of water quality.

Chemistry Professor Wendy Cory and Geology Professor Vijay Vulava will study the environmental fate of a variety of pharmaceuticals such as those from common pain and allergy medications. These compounds are being detected in water sources around the world, but little is known about their effect on human health and the aquatic environment. Ultimately, the results of this study will be used to further the understanding of these risks and potentially lead to solutions for more effective removal of these compounds during wastewater treatment.

“The funding rate for NSF grants in the field of environmental engineering is just 12%, so this award illustrates the value of the research conducted in the School of Sciences and Mathematics,” Cory says. “I’m very excited that we can bring Dr. Tyrone Hayes, an important scientist and the subject of the children’s book The Frog Scientist, to campus and inspire children from local Title 1 elementary schools.”

Hayes, a biology professor at UC Berkeley who grew up in segregated South Carolina, is well-known for his work with frogs and their aquatic environment.

The research will begin September 1, 2012.

For more information, contact Wendy Cory at or 843.953.1405.