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Monosson, Emily


Primary Interests

Dr. Emily Monosson is an environmental toxicologist. A diversity of past research experience, and data synthesis of the health and environmental impacts of contaminants from nanoparticles, to organochlorines, and personal health care products have laid the groundwork for Monosson’s current academic interest – investigating the evolutionary history of the toxic response.

Beyond academics her interest in increasing public awareness about their role in the environment and the importance of science education, has led to her service on the Gill-Montague School Committee and on the board of the Montague Reporter, where she occasionally contributes as a writer.

Recent and Ongoing Projects

• Evolution of the toxic response – a new approach to understanding the role and functioning of life’s chemical defense system, from antioxidants to drug and chemical metabolism, to phenotypic plasticity.

• Director, Student Science Communication Project , and Associate Editor, Encyclopedia of Earth.

• Nanotoxicology: human health and environmental impacts of nanomaterials including titanium dioxide, quantum dots and nanomaterials in food products.

• Plastics in the environment

• Montague Reporter Writing Program: an initiative to encourage and help high school and middle school students prepare articles for publication in their community newspaper.

• Developing and hosting the first high school “exploratorium” held at the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry 2011 national meeting for students from four Boston area public schools.


Evolution in a Toxic World: how life responds to chemical threats, Island Press, April 2012.

Motherhood the Elephant in the Laboratory, Cornell University Press, 2008.

• Interconnections between Human and Ecosystem Health, (Monosson and DiGuilio), Chapman-Hall, 1996.

Courses Taught

• Toxic Water: Life, literature and Art. (ES321 at Mount Holyoke College.) An exploration of water and chemical contamination of water beyond the science. Students are encouraged to explore across disciplines and think about how scientific ideas and knowledge is conveyed through the arts and literature.

Environmental Contaminants: Writing for the Public. (ES321 at Mount Holyoke College.) Students review, and write about emerging chemical contaminants for publication on the Encyclopedia of Earth. Examples from this project include PfiesteriaPFOA and PBDEs.

 Introduction to Environmental Contamination (ES321 at Mount Holyoke College) : a community-directed approach to introducing students to toxicology and environmental contamination. Students work for a community concerned about local environmental contamination. Past classes have worked on topics including: PCBs in the lower Housatonic River; Contamination at a local Railroad switching yard; Chemical contamination in the community surrounding Kelly Airforce Base (now closed) in San Antonio, TX; and depleted uranium contamination in Albany, NY.

Recent Publications

Monosson, E. 2012. Evolution of the toxic response: How might ecotoxicology benefit by considering evolution? Integrated Environmental Assessment and Management, 8(2).

Monosson, E. Toxic Evolution: and emerging science, NAC SETAC Newsletter, April 2010.

Monosson, E. Chemicals We Have Loved – And May Need to Break Up With, Book Review. ,American Scientist, May-June 2009.

Monosson, E. 2009. Back to School With Less Plastic, Editorial. LATimes, August 2009.

Montague Reporter, Neighborhood Toxicologist Monthly Column Yankee Swap: tritium contaminated water anyone?Virus Farms or Salmon Farms: Wild Salmon and IPNVToxicology Down in Whoville: Who’s testing nanoparticle toxicity? (Most columns available online at The Neighborhood Toxicologist blog)

Monosson, E., Lincoln, D. 2006. Comparison of PCBs, organochlorine pesticides, and trace metals in cold liver from Georges Bank and Stellwagen Bank, USA and Canada. Marine Pollution Bulletin 52:572-597.

Monosson, E. 2005. Chemical Mixtures: considering evolution of toxicology and chemical assessment. Environmental Health Perspectives. In Press and Online:

Elskus, A., Collier, T., Monosson, E. 2005. Interactions Among Lipids and Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) in Fish. Biochemical Processes in Marine Fish, Volume 6, Environmental Toxicology. T.P. Mommsen and T.W. Moon Eds. Elsevier Science, St. Louis, pp119-152.

Monosson, E., J.Ashley, A. McElroy, D. Sharpe, AElskus,. 2003. PCB Congener Profile Analysis: Investigation of Congener Bioaccumulation in Flesh, Gonad and Liver, in Fundulus heteroclitusfrom the Hudson River, Newark Bay and Reference Sites. Chemsophere 52:777-787.

Monosson, E. 1999/2000. Reproductive and developmental effects of PCBs in fish: a summary of laboratory and field studies. Reviews in Toxicology 3:25-75.


Recent Presentations


Guest on the WGHB show Living Lab, discussing Motherhood the Elephant in the Laboratory, May 2013

University of Gottingen, Women’s careers and Networks, Invited speaker,  March 2013

York University, Motherhood Initiative for Research and Community Involvement (MIRCI), Invited Speaker, October 2012

The relevance of Silent Spring, 50 years later, Western Mass Master Gardener Society, Invited Speaker, February 2012

Evolution in a Toxic World, Hitchcock Center, Amherst, MA, Invited Speaker, February 2012

Toxic Evolution: Life’s response to potentially toxic chemicals, SETAC North America, 32 Annual Meeting, Boston, MA. November 2011.

Science and Gender Matters, University of Nebraska, Invited Speaker, March 2011

Evolution of the Toxic Response, Platform Session, North Atlantic SETAC, June 2010

Women in Science Initiative, Invited Speaker, Brandeis University, April 2010

The Encyclopedia of Earth and Student Science Communication, Proposed Poster, North Atlantic SETAC, June 2010

Women in Astronomy and Space Science, Invited Panel Member, October 2009

EPA STAR Fellowship Conference, Invited Panel Member, September 2009

Big Concerns with the very small: nanotoxicology, Platform, North Atlantic SETAC, June 2009

Emergence of nanotoxicology: looking back before moving ahead, Poster, Conference on the Environmental Implications and Applications of Nanotechnology, University of Massachusetts, June 2009

Motherhood and Success in Science and Engineering, University of Chicago, and Northwestern University, May 2009

Motherhood the Elephant in the Laboratory, Invited Panel Member, National Science Foundation, March 2009

Organized and Chaired Panel, Motherhood the Elephant in the Laboratory, University of Maryland, College Park, MD; Montgomery State College,  Rockville, MD, 2008.

Chaired Panel, Motherhood the Elephant, AAAS, Washington DC; Union of Concerned Scientists, Washington DC, 2008.

Updated: March 22, 2013