Shawn Benner, Ph.D.
Shawn Benner is co-author of an article published earlier this summer in the prestigious interdisciplinary science journal Nature.
Dr. Benner served as the lead hydrogeologist on the research highlighted in the article, which focuses on the causes of elevated arsenic in groundwater in Asia, a problem that adversely impacts about 100 million people. His work was in collaboration with researchers at Stanford University.
“Shawn’s research accomplishments and recognition in one of the top scientific journals in the world says volumes about the quality of Boise State researchers and our growing research programs all across campus,” said Mark Rudin, Boise State’s vice president for research. “This is a huge accomplishment that significantly adds to our reputation as an up-and-coming urban research university.”
The article, “Near-surface Wetland Sediments as a Source of Arsenic Release to Ground Water in Asia,” is a detailed study of the upper Mekong delta of Cambodia that reveals the source of arsenic-contaminated ground water, and provides a potential framework for predicting future groundwater quality in the region.
The study shows that arsenic is released from near-surface wetland sediments and transported through underlying aquifers back to the river. This natural cycle has been occurring for millennia but can be influenced by land use changes such as irrigation pumping, agricultural intensification and urbanization.
Tens of millions of people in Asia routinely consume water that has dangerously high arsenic levels. Arsenic is naturally derived from eroded Himalayan sediments, but the processes controlling the aqueous concentrations and the location of arsenic release in spaces between grains of sediment remain unclear.
Benner praised Boise State’s support for innovative researchers as being central to its success.
“This particular success is the product of a research environment at Boise State that supports risky and important science,” Benner said. “This research required a three-year investment of time and energy in a very difficult field-research environment where the potential for failure was quite high. This was a risky investment for an untenured faculty member, but the work environment at Boise State made that decision an easy one.”
Nature, the world’s most highly cited interdisciplinary science journal, is a weekly international journal publishing the finest peer-reviewed research in all fields of science and technology on the basis of its originality, importance, interdisciplinary interest, timeliness, accessibility, elegance and surprising conclusions.
Click here to read the article: www.nature.com/nature/journal/v454/n7203/full/nature07093.html.