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Battelle Applied Genomics Today

Battelle Applied Genomics Today

Featured Expert: Lisa Lefkovitz: Senior Research Scientist

Lisa Lefkovitz Lisa Lefkovitz

Senior Research Scientist Lisa Lefkovitz is on the front line of sediment management for Battelle and our clients. “Out of sight, out of mind” is a common approach to contamination in our oceans and coastal harbors; however, the impacts can be far reaching, since much of the human food chain starts in the sediments from these areas. “I’m working to help our industry and government clients understand the movement of contaminants in marine and coastal environments and develop more effective and sustainable remediation options,” Lisa explains.

An environmental chemist with an M.S. in Water Chemistry from the University of Wisconsin, Lisa brings more than 25 years of experience in the management of sediments and dredged materials. Over the course of her career, she has developed expertise in hydrogeology, toxicology, regulatory affairs and remediation, with a special focus on projects where sediment quality is a prominent issue.  She is especially interested in the fate and transport of contaminants in estuarine, riverine and marine aquatic environments.

In her current role at Battelle, Lisa works closely with government and commercial clients to understand their goals and objectives and design solutions that will help them meet those goals. She actively coordinates field efforts, oversees the analysis of environmental samples for a variety of organic and inorganic contaminants, monitors data quality, interprets the resultant data, oversees the activities of subcontractors and prepares final reports. She has managed numerous dredged material management projects for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), U.S. EPA, the U.S. Navy, and multiple industrial clients.

Lisa is currently Battelle’s Program Manager for a five-year environmental services contract with the New England District of the USACE where a large focus is on maintenance and improvement of regional navigational channels. Dredging is necessary to keep navigational waterways open, but can cause environmental problems if contaminated sediments are not handled and disposed of properly. Lisa’s work helps clients involved in dredging projects complete them in a cost-effective and sustainable manner.

In support of regional dredged material management in Long Island Sound, Lisa, as the Project Manager, oversaw development of a Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS) for the USACE’s Dredged Material Management Plan. The project required coordination of multiple disciplines, including ecologists, biologists, physical oceanographers, chemists and economists, to evaluate over 60 individual federal navigation projects for sediment disposal at over 150 potential disposal sites. A database approach was used to screen various disposal scenarios, which incorporated haul distance, disposal site capacity and suitability of sediments for disposal as well as environmental, cultural and socioeconomic factors.

Lisa also develops and implements sediment management plans for large-scale environmental remediation projects.  Much of her current work as part of the USACE New England District contract is in support of the New Bedford Harbor Superfund Site, where 900,000 cubic yards of PCB-contaminated sediments are being dredged or excavated to remediate the harbor. Battelle has been involved with the site since the late 1990s, including pre-dredging design studies, sample and analysis, long-term monitoring and planning.  Lisa and her team are currently overseeing strategic planning and environmental oversight during the dredging operation.

Lisa puts her experience to work for clients to find solutions that are efficient and cost effective as well as scientifically sound. She says, “We have to be good stewards of our clients’ resources. Sometimes that means making sure we are doing what needs to be done, not just what was asked for. Sometimes there is a better way than what was originally envisioned.” 

Outside of her job at Battelle, Lisa plays an active role in her local community and industry associations. She serves as the Vice Chair for the Ocean and Coastal Resources Committee of the New England Environmental Business Council. She also assists with fundraising efforts and the annual Awards Dinner for the Boston Post of the Society of American Military Engineers, which supports scholarships for college students entering science and engineering fields. She enjoys bringing new talent into her field.

In the future, she hopes to apply the lessons learned in her work in New England to other contaminated sites around the country.