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Rusty Day

Rusty's research focuses on the fate and impact of heavy metals in marine organisms, with a particular emphasis on mercury. His work utilizes the high accuracy analytical method of isotope dilution ICP-MS, standard additions, atomic fluorescence spectroscopy, and applying solid sampling methods such as laser ablation ICP-MS to marine matrices. Specific research topics include developing non-lethal methods for monitoring heavy metals in protected species such as loggerhead sea turtles, and using sentinel or indicator species such as the diamondbacked terrapin and arctic seabirds to monitor trace elements in the environment at large. He has investigated how mercury relates to health in sea turtles, and is also interested in how life history characteristics, foraging habits, and geographic differences in mercury availability affect the accumulation of this toxin in wildlife.

Rusty earned his masters degree while he was with NIST, and was hired in 2003 shortly after graduating. He has also worked as a field biologist for NOAA, S.C. Dept. of Natural Resources, the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries, and the UNC Institute of Marine Sciences. He has authored or co-authored several peer-reviewed papers, and is currently involved in a number of collaborative research projects with the College of Charleston, Medical University of South Carolina, S.C. Dept. of Natural Resources, and a number of other state and federal agencies. He is currently an adjunct faculty member at the College of Charleston.

Rusty Day


Research Biologist
Chemical Sciences Division


College of Charleston, SC

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill


Phone: 843-762-8904
Fax: 843-762-8742