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UNI student and professor carry out research in Romania

August 7, 2003

Catherine Zeman, UNI assistant professor of health education, (319) 273-7090
Vicki Grimes, University Marketing & Public Relations, (319) 273-2761

CEDAR FALLS, Iowa -- University of Northern Iowa senior biology major Katie Venter of Oskaloosa and UNI assistant professor of health education Catherine Zeman spent a week in June in the Transylvania region of Romania as part of a student research program funded by the UNI Environmental Health Initiative.

The project, called the 2003 Research Project and Student Training Experience in Drinking Water and Pesticide Exposure Evaluation, involved testing water samples in Transylvania for the harmful pesticide DDT. Previous research conducted by Zeman and her Romanian colleagues found that contaminated water in Transylvania puts children who drink it at risk for developmental complications of fine motor coordination and learning.

The purpose of this year's research was to determine the level of DDT in the water supply using a method called gas chromatography. Venter worked with Romanian chemists and toxicologists from the Romanian Institute of Public Health, learning their water analysis methods and comparing them to the American method.

'This experience offered me the opportunity to understand and experience the challenges that colleagues in other cultural settings must face when implementing and designing a public health program,' said Venter. 'This has been one of the greatest experiences of my academic career.'

The results and exposure models that Venter, Zeman and their colleagues were working on are still in the process of being completed.