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What do Splenda and carbamazephine, a seizure medication, have in common? They both could potentially be used as molecular markers of estrogen in wastewater.

Over the course of six months, Jess Hendricks, a fellow and guest researcher at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, sampled wastewater at various treatment plants in Tennessee. As a result, she developed the method of testing the mass spectrometry of estrogen in wastewater using the sweetener and pharmaceutical during her graduate research at Tennessee Technological University.

Hendricks will present results of the study and discuss her work at the CDC during this week’s Science Forum.

Her talk, “Using Mass Spectrometry to Identify Toxins and Diseases,” will be held at noon in Room C-D of Thompson-Boling Arena on Friday, January 29.

The Science Forum is a weekly brown-bag lunch series that allows professors and area scientists to discuss their research with the general public in a conversational presentation.

Free and open to the public, each Science Forum consists of a forty-minute presentation followed by a Q-and-A session. Attendees are encouraged to bring their own lunch or purchase it at the café in Thompson-Boling Arena. The Science Forum, sponsored by the UT Office of Research and Quest magazine, is an initiative to raise awareness of the research, scholarship, and creative activity happening on campus.

Hendricks earned her bachelor’s degree in microbiology and cell sciences from the University of Florida and her master’s in chemistry from TTU. Her research with the CDC specializes in liquid chromatography mass spectrometry for the identification of a rare genetic disorder.

Here are the upcoming Science Forum speakers:

February 5 – Jim Richards, executive director of Knoxville Botanical Gardens and Arboretum, “What if? The Changing Model of Botanical Gardens”

February 12 – TBA, manufacturing systems at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, “How Bigger is Better in Additive Manufacturing”

February 19 – Ralph Lydic, the Robert H. Cole Professor of Neuroscience, “Sleep: Neuroscience, Medicine, and Society”

February 26 – John Skinner, professor of entomology and plant pathology, “What’s Going On with Pollinator Decline?”

March 4 – Renée Hoyos, executive director of the Tennessee Clean Water Network, topic to be announced.

April 1 – Chad Melton, a senior in earth and planetary science, “Discoveries at Pluto: A First Look into the Outer Solar System”

April 8 – J. Aubrey Waddell, professor of clinical pharmacy at UT College of Pharmacy and oncology pharmacist at Blount Memorial Hospital, “Why New Cancer Drugs C0st So Much but Do So Little,”

April 15 – Caleb Rucker, assistant professor of mechanical, aerospace, & biomedical engineering, “Lifesaving Robotic Tentacles”

April 22 – Devon Burr, associate professor of earth & planetary sciences, topic to be announced.

April 29 – Don W. Byerly, professor emeritus of earth & planetary sciences, topic to be announced.


Amy Blakely (865-974-5034,