Rebecca Sutton's picture

Rebecca  Sutton, PhD

Senior Scientist
Clean Water Program
Bay Regional Monitoring Program
510-746-7388

 Follow Rebecca on Twitter @beckysuttonphd

Dr. Rebecca Sutton joined SFEI-ASC in 2013 as a Senior Scientist for the Regional Monitoring Program for Water Quality in San Francisco (Bay RMP). Dr. Sutton leads the RMP's Emerging Contaminants Workgroup and a team of scientists investigating contaminants of emerging concern and microplastic in the San Francisco Bay and other regions of California. She also manages SFEI-ASC’s Green Chemistry focus area, providing information to inform policies designed to prevent pollution through reduced use of toxic chemicals. Dr. Sutton has been appointed to California’s Green Ribbon Science Panel to aid in the implementation of the state’s Safer Consumer Products Regulations.

Dr. Sutton received her B.S. in Environmental Resource Science from the University of California, Davis and her Ph.D. in Environmental Chemistry from the University of California, Berkeley. Her dissertation explored molecular-scale interactions affecting contaminant fate and transport as well as soil carbon storage to mitigate climate change. Prior to joining SFEI-ASC, Dr. Sutton was a senior scientist with research and advocacy non-profit Environmental Working Group, where she conducted research on chemicals of concern in air, water, soil, consumer goods, and people.

Related Projects, News, and Events

Contaminant Data Download and Display (CD3) (Project)

Contaminant Data Display and Download Tool or CD3  is an innovative visualization tool for accessing water quality data for the San Francisco Bay-Delta and northern montane regions. It is the primary tool for accessing and downloading the San Francisco Bay Regional Monitoring Program’s (RMP) long-term dataset and other project data stored in SFEI's Regional Data Center (RDC).

Monitoring San Francisco Bay for microplastics - photo by Plus M Productions

Microplastic Pollution in San Francisco Bay and Adjacent Marine Sanctuaries (Project)

Plastic pollution is gaining global recognition as a threat to the resilience and productivity of ocean ecosystems. However, we are only just beginning to understand the scope and impacts of microplastic particles (less than 5 mm) on coastal and ocean resources, and the San Francisco Bay Area is no exception. A preliminary study of nine water sites in San Francisco Bay, published in 2016, showed greater levels of microplastics than the Great Lakes or Chesapeake Bay.

RMP Completes Major Revision of its Strategy to Monitor Emerging Contaminants (News)

Global leaders in the study of emerging contaminants, the stakeholders that make up the Regional Monitoring Program for Water Quality in San Francisco Bay (RMP) believe that preventing a pollution problem is safer and more cost-effective than cleaning one up. For this reason, the RMP focuses on monitoring contaminants of emerging concern, or CECs.

Contaminants of Emerging Concern Strategy (Project)

More than 100,000 chemicals have been registered or approved for commercial use in the US. For many of these chemicals, major information gaps limit evaluations of their potential risks, and environmental monitoring of these chemicals has not been required by regulatory agencies. Nevertheless, researchers and government agencies have begun to collect occurrence, fate, and toxicity data for a number of these chemicals.

SFEI scientists process microplastic samples collected from San Francisco Bay.

Local News: Scientists launch major study of microplastics pollution in San Francisco Bay (News)

SFEI and The 5 Gyres Institute have launched an ambitious two-year research project to monitor San Francisco Bay for pollution in the form of tiny particles of plastic pollution, reports ABC7 News. These microplastic particles are eaten by local fish, according to previous studies, which can expose them to harmful contaminants. 

RMP Study in the News: “Dog and cat flea treatments suspected of polluting San Francisco Bay” (News)

As a result of summary information presented in the latest Pulse of the Bay (see below), the San Jose Mercury News published an article based on a RMP study of pesticide movement through Bay Area wastewater treatment plants.  Fipronil is an insecticide that is of moderate concern for the Bay because levels in sediment are in the range of toxicity thresholds for freshw

Image from KQED

Hunting for Plastic in California’s Protected Ocean Waters (News)

Rebecca Sutton, Meg Sedlak, and Diana Lin of SFEI, in partnership with Carolynn Box of 5 Gyres, conducted ocean water sampling associated with an ambitious project. The project is focused on determining the characteristics and fate of microplastics in the Bay and adjacent ocean waters. KQED reporter Lindsey Hoshaw published a story covering the team's activities along the California coast. After determinng that the Bay has greater than expected microplastic pollution, the science team, as reported by Hoshaw's story, is conducting further ground-breaking research.

Photograph courtesy CA Dept. of Pesticide Regulation

Local coverage of RMP findings on flea control pesticide fipronil (News)

A report from ABC7's Dan Ashley on May 17, 2017 highlighted key findings from a recent RMP study on the pesticide fipronil. The study identified spot-on flea control products as likely to be an important source of this contaminant to the Bay.

Coastal Cleanup Day Information in East Bay Express (News)

Just in time for California Coastal Cleanup Day, an insert in today’s East Bay Express provides readers with ways to help protect San Francisco Bay. The East Bay Municipal Utility District invites Bay residents to volunteer for creek and Bay cleanups on Saturday, and take everyday steps for the health of the environment, like fixing leaky pipes and flushing only the 3 P’s – not wipes or medications.

RMP Annual Meeting 2016 (Event)

The RMP Annual Meeting is held every year in the early fall. The meeting is an opportunity for RMP stakeholders to discuss current RMP projects and highlight interesting new research.