Cerrato helps organize annual Superfund Research Program Meeting in Albuquerque

December 13, 2023 - by Kim Delker

José Cerrato, professor and Regents’ Lecturer in the Gerald May Department of Civil, Construction and Environmental Engineering, participated in the Scientific Planning Committee for the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) Annual Superfund Research Program Meeting that took place Dec. 4-6 at Hotel Albuquerque.

The meeting for Superfund Research Program grant recipients was attended by more than 600 researchers from institutions and organizations around the country. The Superfund Research Program funds centers at 23 institutions.

Cerrato, who is affiliated with the Center for Water and the Environment, is the principal investigator and director of the UNM METALS Superfund Research Program, housed in the College of Pharmacy.

The two-day annual meeting featured a variety of presentations and talks by researchers from around the country, including comments from UNM President Garnett Stokes. Officials from NIEHS, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers also offered remarks.

The METALS Superfund Research team, in partnership with colleagues from Navajo Nation and the Pueblo of Laguna, is working to identify risks resulting from the development of the atomic bomb and the Cold War mining that followed.

Cerrato has done extensive research and developed important partnerships with Native American communities to formulate solutions to mitigate the risks from contaminated water and land. In 2017, he was awarded a National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) award for his collaborative work with Native communities to measure the environmental impact of abandoned uranium mines and develop methods to lessen the effects. In 2020, he was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to travel to Spain to research ways to better detect contaminants in water near mining sites.