Studying toxic runoff to help save iconic salmon species, Washington State University scholar Stephanie Blair draws on science as well as the knowledge and connections of her Native American community.

Stephanie Blair.

A doctoral student in WSU’s School of the Environment, Blair researches the toxicology underlying urban runoff mortality syndrome—a condition that kills coho salmon when they return to urban creeks to spawn. Based at the WSU Puyallup Research and Extension Center, Blair and colleagues are racing to understand the syndrome and develop green infrastructure that can protect fish from toxic chemicals.

“We’re taught to think seven generations ahead, about people we won’t see in our lifetime,” Blair said. “Having experienced what happened to my family when salmon are gone, I want my daughter to be able to continue the traditions of her family.”

November is Native American Heritage Month. Blair urges others to take time during the month to consider the legacy of colonialism.

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