Bergner, Jennifer

Jennifer Bergner

Bachelor's of Science Degree.
Research with Prof. Lisa Colosi.

I am from McLean, Virginia and attended high school there as well.  I am pursuing a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Chemistry with American Chemical Society Certification.  My research mentor is Professor Lisa Colosi in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.

Recently, substantial attention has been directed towards a class of chemicals known as emerging contaminants (ECs).  These are generally defined as pharmaceutical drugs and personal care products, which enter natural water systems primarily through municipal wastewater effluent.  However, the scope and degree of such contamination is not well understood, in part because of the great diversity of structure and function of the chemicals within the class of ECs.  My research has focused on the development of an enzyme-linked receptor assay (ELRA) as a means of quantifying caffeine contamination of water systems.  Because of the ubiquity of caffeine consumption, its concentration in an aquatic system often reflects the overall human impact in the region and has thus been proposed as a biomarker which would indicate the presence of other ECs.  Thus, an easy and accessible tool to allow rapid measurement of caffeine levels could be broadly useful for better understanding the contamination of natural water systems by ECs, and thus eventually in regulating and remediating the problem.