Environmental Health - Toxic Substances Hydrology Program
Two U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Toxic Substances Hydrology Program (TSHP) scientists, Denis R. LeBlanc and Dr. Michael T. Meyer, received the Department of Interior's (DOI) highest honor—the Distinguished Service Award. The award is given to recognize outstanding contribution to science, outstanding skill or ability in the performance of duty, outstanding contribution made during an eminent career at DOI, or any other exceptional contribution to public service. Denis and Michael were honored at the DOI's 71st Honor Awards Convocation on May 9, 2016.
Denis R. LeBlanc is widely recognized in the USGS and in the broader research community for more than 40 years of scientific leadership and contributions in groundwater science. With the support of the USGS TSHP, Denis pioneered the design and execution of controlled, large-scale groundwater tracer experiments in a shallow sand and gravel aquifer on Cape Cod, Massachusetts. These experiments, and subsequent tracer tests at smaller scales, have greatly enhanced basic understanding of the physical, chemical, and microbiological processes governing groundwater flow and quality. As part of this program, he led research on the history, chemistry, and microbiology of a large treated wastewater plume underlying the site. Studies at the site have generated more than 450 peer-reviewed publications to date. The sampling array continues to be used for innovative subsurface tracer experiments to help understand the fate of a diverse set of contaminants, such as phosphate, antibiotics, and pathogens. His work facilitated a highly credible, cost-effective remediation process with benefits for public health and the environment.
Dr. Michael T. Meyer is widely recognized for his geochemical expertise, which has enhanced knowledge of the occurrence, fate, and transport of organic contaminants and their degradation products in the environment. Mike is the director of the USGS Organic Geochemistry Research Laboratory (OGRL) in Kansas. He and his team at the OGRL have developed innovative and sensitive analytical methods to measure contaminants such as pesticides, antibiotics, natural and synthetic steroidal compounds, and "inert" ingredients in pesticide formulations in the environment. He and his collaborators have produced more than 60 journal articles and 45 USGS publications including the first published documentation on the national occurrence of a wide variety of hormones, pharmaceuticals, personal care products, and other wastewater contaminants released into surface water throughout the United States, which received the USGS Shoemaker Communication Award. Mike has been named a Thomson Reuters Highly Cited Researcher for 2014 and 2015 in the environment/ecology field. Collectively, his contributions have had a profound impact on our understanding of the occurrence, fate, and geochemical transport processes of organic compounds that are not routinely measured.