Biogeochemistry of Global COntaminants

- Research Group -

Our research goal is to better understand how chemicals released by human activity interact with natural ecosystems and affect living systems. A main innovation of our group’s work is to quantitatively analyze the entire exposure pathway for aquatic pollutants to identify key processes that have a large influence on their accumulation in biota. Our research approach combines environmental measurements with statistical and mechanistic simulation models to project chemical levels over space and time. This integrated approach allows us to better understand how global change (both chemical releases and climate change) will affect human and ecological health risks associated with environmental toxicants.


- Below are a selection of figures from our recent papers -

Science of the Total Environment

Environmental Research

Environmental Health

Environmental Science & Technology

Environmental Health Perspectives

Environmental Science & Technology

Global Biogeochemical Cycles

Environmental Science & Technology Letters


Featured Paper

E.M. Sunderland, M.Li, K. Bullard. 2018. Decadal changes in edible supply of seafood and methylmercury exposure in the United States. Environmental Health Perspectives. 125(1):  DOI:10.1289/EHP2644.


Read Harvard News Story here.



Methylmercury is a potent neurotoxicant that bioaccumulates in aquatic food webs. This paper shows the majority of methylmercury exposure in the United States is from fisheries harvests from the global oceans, with almost 40% from various species of tuna.  Over the last decade, methylmercury exposures have reflected changes in the preferences of U.S. fish consumers toward foods like shrimp and fresh tuna in sushi lunch boxes. Climate change is also affecting the origin and supply of certain species in the U.S. commercial seafood market such as Cod and anchovy/sardines. Image to the left courtesy of Leah Burrows, Harvard SEAS.


Sunderland Lab

Group Administrator: Brenda Mathieu

Address: 29 Oxford Street, Cambridge MA 02138

E-mail:  bmathieu [at]

Phone: +1 (617) 496-5745

Fax: +1 (617) 495-4551