Real World Environmental Experiences For Undergraduates

IC Toxicology Lab

Real World Environmental Experiences for Undergraduates

Current Projects

Microplastics in the Aquatic Environment

How many microplastics are in Cayuga Lake and in surrounding tributaries? Where are they coming from?

Plastic Particle Verification

One upcoming problem in microplastics research is making sure what we are seeing is acualty plastic and not organic material. So, how do we know what we are seeing is plastic and not something else?

Microplastics & Fish Behavior

We know that microplastics are found in waterways, but how do plastics affect aquatic life?

Plastic Waste Reduction Advocacy

We are obsessed with plastics. Plastic bags, straws, cups, and more. How do we stop/curb our obsession?

Who We Are

Dr. Susan Allen


Dr. Susan Allen is the professor for the lab and Principal Investigator on various local toxicology projects. She received her PhD from Oregon State University in Toxicology, and has worked on projects in far away places such as the Arctic and the Amazon. She now spends most of her time studying pharmaceuticals and microplastics in Cayuga Lake. Susan spends her free time outdoors, and is especially fond of being on lakes or on her bike. Her new sidekick is Cayo, sweet golden retriever.

Bruce Franz​

Lab Technician

Bruce is a senior at IC earning a B.S in Environmental Science and he is working on a self-designed study labeled Computational Environmental Health. The lab has given him the opportunity to study Raman Mass Spectroscopy to ensure particles found in samples are actually plastic. He is also the lead developer of While not working in the lab Bruce enjoys hikes, a mean cup of coffee from Gimmie! Coffee, and loves to camp. He hopes to continue his education by obtaining a MPH in Environmental Health. 

Kendall Wald


Kendall is a senior at IC earning a B.S. in Environmental Science, a B.A. in Biology, and a minor in Outdoor Pursuits. This lab has given her the opportunity to study fish behavior when encountering microplastics with a 3D video tracking software called EthoVision. With the experiences she has gained from the lab and the ENVS department, she is looking forward to attending graduate school and earn her PhD in Wildlife Biology.

Ari Levy


Hi, I’m Ari a senior Environmental science major. I have done research in the past but this year I wanted to challenge myself and learn a new skillset, so I decided to turn my attention towards ecotoxicology. When I’m not working on my academics you can often find me either enjoying the great outdoors or playing soccer or baseball.

Evelyn Huang


Evelyn Huang is a sophomore at IC working towards a B.S. in Environmental Science and a minor in Mathematics. She first became interested in studying microplastics when she took an environmental science course in high school, where her teacher encouraged her to learn more. Now, she is working on sampling microplastics in snow. In her free time, she enjoys writing short stories.

Megan Plummer


Megan is a junior at Ithaca College working toward a B.S. in Environmental Science and a minor in Outdoor Pursuits. She originally wasn’t sure she wanted to go into environmental science but realized her love of the outdoors and science could be combined in the major. She originally became interested in microplastics while taking Professor Allen’s ecotoxicology course. In her free time, Megan enjoys playing rugby and hiking.

Jake Espenscheid


Jake is a Junior student at Ithaca College, working towards a BS in Environmental Science and minoring in History. The lab has given him the opportunity to learn to use Raman Mass Spectroscopy at the Cornell Center for Materials Research, and to do data input and analysis for the City of Ithaca Water Treatment Plant using the Water Information Management Solution software from Hach. The lab has also taught him the methods and procedures for processing samples of water that may be contaminated with microplastics.

Heidi Nydam

Heidi Nydam


Heidi is a senior at Dryden High School participating in the New Visions Life Science Program which allows her individual time to engage in research in the greater Ithaca area. A particular interest in the human-environmental interface led her to reach out to Professor Allen with hopes of helping with microplastics research. She hopes to major in environmental science at Bates College. Heidi spends a lot of her time outside playing soccer, hiking, and skiing. 

Project Supporters & Collaborators

© 2021 All Rights Reserved