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 -

Journal of Exposure Science & Environmental Epidemiolgy (JESEE)

Global Biogeochemical Cycles

Environmental Science & Technology Letters

Tokranov et al. 2019

Environmental Science & Technology Letters

Environmental Health Perspectives

Environmental Research

Environmental Science & Technology


Featured Paper

A.T. Schartup, C.P. Thackray, A. Qureshi, C. Dassuncao, K. Gillespie, A. Hanke, E.M. Sunderland. 2019. Climate change and overfishing increase neurotoxicant in marine predators. Nature. 572 (7771): 648-650.


Climate change is increasing seawater temperatures in many regions.  We developed a new mechanistic bioaccumulation model for methylmercury in aquatic ecosystems to characterize the impacts of changing temperature and trophic structure.  Our results for the Gulf of Maine as a model ecosystem show large impacts of recent warming on mercury levels in Atlantic bluefin tuna. These results suggest both carbon and mercury emissions controls are needed to protect the integrity of our global seafood supply.  See press release on this paper here for more information.


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