UOG’s Graduate Environmental Science Program upgrades WERI’s Water Quality Laboratory

Ms. Mallary Duenas, December 2022 graduate. Committee: Kim, Jenson, Habana, and Vuki.

The Water and Environmental Research Institute has upgraded its Water Quality Laboratory status, with a Master. WERI’s WQL Manager Ms. Mallary N. Duenas in December 2022 earned a Master’s Degree in Environmental Science. Ms. Duenas studied and investigated the occurrence of a new emerging contaminant, PFAS. 

PFAS (Perflouroalkyl Substance, teflon) and all related variants (PFOS, Gen X) have been observed in several production wells that caused quite a concern in the last decade and triggered the investigation. PFAS and variants have a special property of being amphiphobic, repellent to both oil and water, which became useful in our lives—nonstick cook wares, food packages, soil resistant carpets, upholstery and garments, and even firefighting foam. Now, there are health concerns with the substance that it is found in our utility water. Ms. Duenas’ technical report will be published soon.

Ms. Duenas is a success story, a product of UOG’s and WERI’s programs. She went to Saint Paul’s Christian School,  received her bachelor’s in Biology at UOG that leveraged her position into WERI’s Water Quality Lab, working as Chemist with the then well sought-after lab manager, Ms. Jennifer O. Cruz. With UOG’s Presidential Award-winning Environmental Science Program, Mallary signed up, and soon after, she was working with Dr. Barry Kim to investigate the controversial case of PFAS. 

During her Masters, and working as WERI’s laboratory chemist, Ms. Duenas was promoted to Manager of WERI’s Water Quality Lab. She began her thesis field investigations with Dr. Gary Denton and Dr. Kim, and soon she formed her committee that included Drs. Jenson, Habana, and Vuki.  

She defended her thesis in December 2022 and received her Master’s diploma at the UOG Commencement of Fall 2022 graduates. Ms. Duenas, in her acknowledgement, attributes her success to her family, thesis committee members, WERI, and UOG. She continues her professional high operation standards service at WERI’s Water Quality Lab, supporting water quality regulation for the entire island, ensuring we have safe drinking water.

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