Dr. Amanda Grannas

Professor of Chemistry, Vice Provost for Research and Chief Research Officer at Villanova University, Villanova, PA

Dr. Grannas completed her BS in Chemistry and Math at Juniata College in 1998 and obtained a PhD in Analytical Chemistry from Purdue University in 2002. Following her graduate work, she was a postdoctoral scholar at The Ohio State University with a joint appointment in the Department of Chemistry and the Department of Geological Sciences. Since joining the Villanova faculty in 2005, Dr. Grannas has established a thriving research group focused on environmental and atmospheric chemistry and has mentored over 50 research students. She has a diverse range of expertise, and her recent projects include the study of snow and ice photochemistry, the fate of pharmaceutical and personal care products in local watersheds, and the development of advanced analytical techniques used to study ice cores. A prominent and internationally known expert in snow chemistry, she has participated in a number of field studies in both the Canadian and Alaskan Arctic and has included a number of Villanova students in her fieldwork. Her research has been supported by the EPA, NSF, NOAA, and the Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation. Dr. Grannas’ previous honors include being awarded a prestigious Faculty Early Career Development Award from the National Science Foundation (Villanova’s first recipient of this award), and being one of seven faculty nationwide recognized in 2013 as a Henry Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar by the Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation.

research website: https://agrannas.clasit.org/

Interview for a Philadelphia news radio station Dr. Grannas did on the topic of Antarctic ice sheet melt when news of the Thwaites Glacier melting was hitting the news in December 2021

https://www.audacy.com/kywnewsradio/news/local/doomsday-antarctica-thwaites-glacier-collapse-sea-levels

Interviews

2009

Chemistry professor at Villanova Amanda Grannas, with a focus on environmental and atmospheric chemistry, is attempting to understand the chemistry of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) in the environment. She became interested in the Arctic during her first field study there in 2000, which was also her second year as a graduate student at Purdue University. The experience was challenging but empowering, as she was responsible for running the study on her own. Grannas is currently part of the OASIS team studying atmospheric chemistry in Barrow (Utqiaġvik), Alaska, where she and her team measure POPs and their impact on the environment.

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Chemist Dr. Amanda Grannas is describing an experiment she is currently conducting in the snowpack to understand what happens to different pollutants in different conditions when exposed to sunlight. She has prepared solutions containing known amounts of pollutants in clean water and snow melt water, and is placing them in the snowpack in sample vials. The samples are color-coded and will be exposed to sunlight for two weeks, while three samples from a buried blue container, which is the dark control, will be collected each day for comparison. The experiment aims to mimic what happens in snowpack and understand what kind of sunlight-driven chemistry occurs to these pollutants.

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Dr. Grannas talks about how serendipity works doing fieldwork in the Arctic. While conducting fieldwork on the North Slope, she and a group of scientists had a chance encounter with a local station manager who was also an Iñupiaq whaler. They asked him to help collect some samples for them, and after he agreed to help, he also invited them to join him on an ice-breaking trip that he and his whaling crew were conducting for the upcoming whaling season. He said they could collect the samples themselves. During their trip, they encountered Arnold Brower Sr., a respected whaling captain and Iñupiaq elder who shared his experiences and opinions on climate change. Dr. Grannas and her team had that special experience of hearing stories that illuminated modern and traditional lifestyles of the local Iñupiaq population, noting their use of technology alongside their spiritual subsistence activities. Dr. Grannas believes that in sharing Iñupiaq culture and the Iñupiaq approach to hunting, scientists come to learn so much that can then inform their own science, as well as teach the outside world important lessons.

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2022

This video clip describes expanding the Arcticstories.net website with present-day interviews with former interviewees in order to learn about the drastic changes in the Arctic over the past several years. Dr. Grannas, now Vice Provost & Chief Research Officer and Professor of Chemistry at Villanova University, speaks about how her role has changed from active fieldwork in Alaska to now sending her students off to do their own research. She also discusses with Pete Lourie and Paul Shepson, co-founders of the website, her current role as Vice Provost for Research at Villanova University and how Dr. Grannas has shifted focus to coaching and mentoring faculty members as well as students. She reflects on the importance of science communication and the joy she feels in seeing former students continue in the field of Arctic research.

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In this conversation, Villanova’s Dr. Grannas, Dr. Shepson and Pete Lourie discuss the issue of climate change and how it is affecting the world. They acknowledge that there has been a dramatic change in the climate, even in a short period of time, and that it is an issue that needs to be addressed and not kicked down the road. They also note that many people feel helpless and that there are too many “doomsdayers” who make people feel like there is nothing they can do to make a difference. The discussion emphasizes choices individuals can make that will have a positive impact for change and the economy. They also discuss the importance of communication and not demonizing those who work in the fossil fuel industry but finding ways to work together towards a solution. Finally, they stress the need to work together and not take immutable positions in order to solve the problem of climate change.

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Dr. Grannas discusses the importance of effective communication, particularly in the field of science. She mentions that it’s not just about having an “elevator pitch” but also about engaging in dialogue with the audience and being able to listen and respond to others’ questions and concerns. She notes that many scientists are not trained in communication skills and she suggests that graduate programs and postdoctoral mentoring could benefit from coaching in this area. Dr. Paul Shepson (Dean of SOMAS at Stonybrook) talks with Dr. Grannas about the importance of conveying a positive message, particularly in regards to climate change.

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Dr. Amanda Grannas discusses her scientific background and how even though she is in an administrative role at Villanova, after being in the field when Arcticstories first met her years ago, she is still actively involved in research, publishing, and mentoring students in the field or lab. She finds it rewarding to see students getting excited about research and flourishing, as well as seeing good science happen. Dr. Grannas thinks fondly of the past when she worked in Utqiaġvik meeting fantastic people like Iñupiaq elder and whaling captain Arnold Brower, learning from his experiences and appreciating the importance of traditional knowledge in the study of science. Grannas recalls a conversation she had with Mr. Brower in 2008 when he spoke about how, with changing ice conditions, it was becoming harder and harder for the Iñupiaq community to read the ice. Later that year, Arnold passed away after his snow machine went through the ice and he couldn’t get back to land and died of hypothermia. Her conversation with Arnold now haunts her because it serves as a powerful example of the impact of climate change on people’s lives.

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