Testing the environment
Madeline Lahm ’19 gains hands-on experience as chemist
Hometown: Lyme, Conn.
Winternship: Studying mono-methyl mercury transport in Marine coastal environments with Professor of Chemistry Jani Benoit at Wheaton
Funding source: Blakely Fetridge Bundy ’66 Work and Learning Fellowship
Pursuing a lifelong interest: “Professor Benoit’s research on mercury exposure in the environment has always interested me and this winternship was a great opportunity for me to get involved. My interest in the environment has been a part of how I live. I spend a lot of time outside and engage in activities such as hiking, but what really got me invested was paying attention to current events growing up, including the BP oil spill and the Flint, Michigan, crisis, as well as the major debates over climate change. Professor Benoit’s research on mercury exposure in the environment has always interested me and this winternship was a great opportunity for me to get involved.”
Notable work: “My job during the project was to set up and run an experiment on total Hg [mercury] detection in blood samples taken from local ducks. This project is a collaboration between Professor Jessie Knowlton, Professor Benoit, and a few students, so it will continue to provide research opportunities for chemistry, biology and environmental science students, especially for students, myself included, who are looking for leadership from strong, successful women in STEM.”
Connecting the coursework: “My work with Professor Benoit was extremely relevant to her ‘Current Problems in Environmental Chemistry’ course that I took this past semester, which has given me a broader understanding of environmental contaminants, including mercury.”
Looking forward: “I have been applying to graduate schools where I can study to become an environmental chemist and get my master’s degree. This winternship allowed me to put into practice all of the studies and work experiences I have had during my time at Wheaton. It is a great addition to my work portfolio and has given me more direction on what kind of work I would like to do one day.”
Madeline is one of the co-captains of the Wheaton women’s lacrosse team, a barista in the Lyons Den, a member of Outdoors House and a volunteer tour guide for admission. She has had internships at Rhode Island Department of Health in the Food and Water Chemistry Laboratory in summer 2018; the Maine Department of Environmental Protection in summer 2017, and at Brown University’s Environmental Leadership Lab in summer 2016.