Tony is pursuing his PhD as a Virginia Tech ICTAS Doctoral Scholar and as a Fellow in the Interfaces of Global Change Program. Under the guidance of Dr. Stephen Schoenholtz and Dr. Carl Zipper, Tony is investigating benthic macroinvertebrate community impacts from salinization in Appalachian streams influenced by coal mining.
Tony’s research focuses on 1) characterizing community structural response to increasing salinity and 2) determining the optimal method by which to quantify salinity for the purposes of modeling that response. The latter element is unique to Tony’s work, as he uses continuous water quality data, rather than temporally-discrete data as is the current practice of environmental regulators. Continuous data can provide a more comprehensive understanding of ecotoxicological exposure patterns, which Tony hopes will improve protection of aquatic life through policy that exploits such knowledge.
Prior to doctoral study, Tony earned his B.S. in Environmental Science and his M.S. in Environmental Sciences and Engineering at Virginia Tech, where he began investigation of salinization effects in Appalachian streams. His M.S. work has been used to help the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals, and Energy develop aquatic life protection policy. His current efforts are an expansion of his prior research, which did not account for temporal variability of water quality. Pursuit of his research on salinization was motivated by his experience as an environmental consultant to the coal industry, during which time Tony realized there was a critical need for more science to guide policy development.
Tony has always been a “bug guy”. From looking for crayfish under river rocks, to fooling trout with flies, he has always been fascinated by the wealth of life at the bottom of Virginia’s mountain streams. A class in aquatic entomology later taught him the importance of that life to the stream ecosystem and its role in protecting the healthy waters that he so loved as a child. Today he is a certified taxonomist whose innumerable hours of “scope time” are applied toward advancing the science of freshwater resource conservation.