DURHAM, N.C. – Laura Ruhl and Brittany Merola, doctoral students in the Earth and Ocean Sciences Division of Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment, earned awards for the best student presentations at the 4th annual International Conference on Medical Geology, September 20-25 in Bari, Italy.

The annual conference brings together mineralogists, physicians, soil scientists, toxicologists, geochemists, veterinarians, biologists, chemists and other medical and scientific specialists to share ideas and recent discoveries on the impact of the natural environment on health.

Merola’s presentation was “Naturally Occurring Arsenic in Groundwater and a Biomarker Assessment in Exposed Populations from Rural North Carolina, USA.”

Ruhl’s presentation was “Energy and Water Resources: Understanding the Environment by Evaluating the Effects of the 2008 Coal Ash Spill in Tennessee, USA.”

Both received International Medical Geology Association Presentation Awards for their papers.

Merola and Ruhl’s faculty advisor at the Nicholas School is Avner Vengosh, professor of geochemistry and water quality.