Chemistry Department Faculty

Dr. MasonDr. Sherri A. Mason
Associate Professor of Chemistry

Environmental Sciences Program Coordinator
Sustainability Coordinator, SUNY FACE Center
220 Houghton Hall
SUNY College at Fredonia
Fredonia, NY 14063
Tel: (716) 673-3292
Fax: (716) 673-3347



My research group is poised at the forefront of research on plastic pollution within freshwater ecosystems, in general, and the Great Lakes, more specifically.

SUNY Fredonia lies 2 miles from the shores of Lake Erie, one of the 5 Great Lakes, which in total comprise the largest freshwater ecosystem in the world. In collaboration with the 5 Gyres Institute, we conducted the first-ever survey for plastic pollution within the open-waters of the Great Lakes. Not surprisingly (given the abundance of plastic within the world's oceans) we found plastic particles within the Great Lakes. What was surprising, however, was that some of our samples sowed extremely high counts, even relative to oceanic waters, and the size of the particles we found, largely what is classified as 'micro-plastics.' We have had several news reports about our work as a result:

We are currently working on our manuscript describing our findings, as well as:

  • conducting a year-long beach survey to work towards understanding the seasonality of plastics within this system; and
  • investigating one potential source of our micro-plastics: wastewater treatment plants. This particular project is of especial interest because it is one of the few projects chosen to take part in an innovative program called Distance Mentoring of Undergraduate Researchers (DMUR). Thus for this project I am not only mentoring an undergraduate researcher here at SUNY Fredonia, but also two students our at SUNY Plattsburgh.

We have plans to conduct more open-water sampling campaigns this summer in Lake Erie in May, the Saint Lawrence Seaway and Lake Ontario in July, and Lake Michigan in August. We hope to slowly build up an understanding of the types and abundance of plastics within the Great Lakes, laying the groundwater for important additional investigations into the degradation of the plastics, their penchant for adsorbing persistent organic chemicals, and their impact on aquatic organisms.

In addition to the above current research projects, my background is in atmospheric kinetics and the impact of combustion emissions. As such my research group has previously conducted research projects on the impact of forest fires on atmospheric chemistry, computational model development, computational chemical analyses, smog chamber studies, food waste analyses and biogas production studies.


Mason, S. A., J. Arey, and R. Atkinson, ‘Kinetics and Products of the OH Radical-Initiated Reaction of 1,4-Butanediol and Rate Constants for the Reactions of OH Radicals with 4-Hydroxybutanal and 3-Hydroxypropanal,’ Environ. Sci. Tech., 44, 707, 2010.

Mason, S. A., J. Arey, and R. Atkinson, ‘Rate Constants for the Gas-Phase Reactions of NO3 Radicals and O3 with C6-C14 1-Alkenes and 2-Methyl-1-alkenes at 296 ± 2 K,’ J. Phys. Chem. A, 113, 5649, 2009.

Mason, S. A., J. Trentmann, T. Winterrath, R. J. Yokelson, T. J. Christian, L. J. Carlson, T. R. Warner, L. C. Wolfe, and M. O. Andreae, ‘Intercomparison of Two Box Models of the Chemical Evolution in Biomass-Burning Smoke Plumes,’ J. Atmos. Chem., 55, 273, 2006.

Trentmann, J., R. J. Yokelson, P. V. Hobbs, T. Winterrath, T. J. Christian, M. O. Andreae, and S. A. Mason, ‘An Analysis of the Chemical Processes in the Smoke Plume from a Savanna Fire,’ J. Geophys. Res., 110, D12301, 2005.

Mason, S. A., R. J. Field, R. J. Yokelson, M. A. Kochivar, M. R. Tinsley, D. E. Ward, and W.-M. Hao, ‘Complex Effects Arising in Smoke Plume Simulations due to Inclusion of Direct Emissions of Oxygenated Organic Species from Biomass Combustion,’ J. Geophys. Res., 106, D12527, 2001.

Community Interest Powerpoints

How to Reduce your Carbon Forkprint League of Women Voters March 2010
STEMming your Career SUNY Fredonia March 2011
The Chemistry of Combustion Alleghany College February 2011
The Problem with Plastic & a Proposed Local Solution Rotary Club April 2011
Tires-to-Energy, Hydrofracking, & the Case for Renewable Energy Edinboro University March 2011
Why Educate for Sustainability? Jamestown Community College February 2011

Page modified 3/8/13