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Fredonia 'microbeads professor' earns $250,000 Heinz Award

Dr. Sherri "Sam" Mason, a SUNY Fredonia chemistry professor, made a groundbreaking discovery several years ago, identifying and studying microplastics pollution in the Great Lakes.

Mason's work has earned her the Heinz Award in Public Policy, the Heinz Family Foundation has announced. It comes with a cash award of $250,000.

The foundation recognized Mason "for her groundbreaking research identifying the presence of microbeads and microfibers in fresh water, and for raising awareness of the potential impact of microplastics and associated contaminants on the food chain and human health, resulting in state, federal and international policy change."

Mason's current research has taken her down a parallel path. She's now leading research on tiny synthetic fibers from items like fleece clothing and blankets that are getting into the freshwater food chain.

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