Dr. Sherri A. Mason

Dr. Sherri A. Mason Dr. Sherri A. Mason
Professor of Chemistry
Chair, Department of Geology & Environmental Sciences
340 Science Center
State University of New York 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 Laurentian Great Lakes, more specifically.

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 have found plastic particles within all 5 of the Great Lakes. The counts obtained, especially those within Lakes Erie and Ontario, rival those within the world's ocean. Even further, what surprised us the most is the size of the particles we found. To date ~75% of the plastic we skim off the surface of the Great Lakes is between one third and one millimeter in diameter. Tiny. We have had several (hundred) news reports as a result of our work. Here are links to a few:

As extensions of our initial Great Lakes Plastic Pollution Surveys (2012-2014) we have conducted additional research projects within Wastewater Treatment Facilities, major tributaries to the Great Lakes, Great Lakes fisheries, San Francisco Bay, and Lake Hovsgol (in Mongolia). We are currently involved in a joint research project with the USGS and the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewer District, a feeding and degradation study supported through New York Sea Grant, as well as our on-going collaboration with Inland Seas.

We hope to slowly build up an understanding of the types and abundance of plastics within the Great Lakes and other freshwater systems, laying the groundwork for important additional investigations into their ecosystem impacts.

In addition to the above, 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.


Grigorakis, S., S. A. Mason, and K. G. Drouillard, ‘Determination of the gut retention of plastic microbeads and microfibers in goldfish (Carassius auratus),’ Chemosphere, 169, 233, 2017.

Balwin, A. K., S. R. Corsi, and S. A. Mason, 'Plastic Debris in 29 Great Lakes Tributaries: Relations to Watershed Attributes and Hydrology,' Environ. Sci. Tech., in press, 2016.

Mason, S. A., D. Garneau, R. Sutton, Y. Chu, K. Ehmann, J. Barnes, P. Fink, D. Papazissimos, and D. L. Rogers, 'Microplastic pollution is widely detected in US municipal wastewater treatment plant effluent,' Environmental Pollution, in press, 2016.

Sutton, R., S. A. Mason, S. K. Stanek, E. Willis-Norton, I. F. Wren, and C. Box, 'Microplastic contamination in the San Francisco Bay, California, USA,' Marine Pollution Bulletin, 109, 230, 2016.

Mason, S. A., L. Kammin, M. Eriksen, G. Aleid, S. Wilson, C. Box, N. Williamson, and A. Riley, 'Pelagic plastic pollution within the surface waters of Lake Michigan, USA,' J. Great Lakes Res., 42 , 753, 2016.

McCormick, A., T.J. Hoellein, S. A. Mason, J. Schluep, and J.J. Kelly, ‘Microplastic in an abundant and distinct microbial habitat in an urban river,’ Environ. Sci. Tech., 48, 11863, 2014.

Free, C. M., O. P. Jensen, S. A. Mason, M. Eriksen, N. J. Williamson, and B. Boldgiv, ‘High-levels of microplastic pollution in a large, remote, mountain lake,’ Marine Pollution Bulletin, 85, 156, 2014.

Erikson, M., S. A. Mason, S. Wilson, C. Box, A. Zellers, W. Edwards, H. Farley, and S. Amato, ‘Microplastic Pollution in the Surface Waters of the Laurentian Great Lakes,’ Marine Pollution Bulletin, 77, 177, 2013.

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/Presentations

Beads of Destruction TEDx Thunder Bay June 2016

Beads of Destruction

The Walrus Talks Water May 2014
Great Lakes Plastic Pollution 2012 Illinois Sustainable Technology Center November 2013
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
STEMming your Career Fredonia March 2011
The Chemistry of Combustion Alleghany College February 2011
Why Educate for Sustainability? Jamestown Community College February 2011
How to Reduce your Carbon Forkprint League of Women Voters March 2010

Support for our work comes from:

http://seagrant.sunysb.edu/images/logo-sg.pngNew York State Department of Environmental Conservation Illinois-Indiana Sea GrantBurning River Foundation http://www.flagshipniagara.org/wp-content/themes/flagship2014/img/xlogo.png.pagespeed.ic.HZlpROTRLY.png

Department of Geology and Environmental Sciences

205 Jewett Hall
State University of New York at Fredonia
Fredonia, NY 14063
(716) 673-3303
(716) 673-3347 Fax