Welcome to the Ferguson laboratory! We are a group of interdisciplinary scientists, specializing in applied environmental analytical chemistry research. We focus on the development and application of analytical tools to study the environmental fate and effects of anthropogenic contaminants in environmental systems. Within this research theme, we have two primary thrusts:
- Environmental fate & transport studies: We utilize high-resolution mass spectrometric, chromatographic, spectroscopic, and wet chemical methods to trace the behavior of organic and nanoparticulate contaminants in water, sediment, and biota both in laboratory and field settings. Contaminants of particular interest include carbon-based nanomaterials (such as single-walled carbon nanotubes), endocrine disruptors (such as steroid hormones and detergent breakdown products) and hydrophobic organic contaminants (such as polybrominated diphenyl ethers and pesticides).
- Environmental molecular toxicology: We are utilizing sophisticated proteomic approaches to examine the mechanisms by which natural and anthropogenic organic compounds elicit effects through receptor-mediated transcriptional regulation. We are particularly interested in endocrine disrupting compounds (e.g. estrogen receptor ligands) and bacterial quorum-sensing molecules (e.g. acyl homoserine lactones). We use a variety of functional proteomics tools for this work, including HPLC-MS/MS, receptor- and immuno-affinity separations, gel electrophoresis, and recombinant protein expression & purification.