Research Round-Up

Important discoveries and breakthroughs occurring in our own backyard

William and Mary and National Geographic search try to discover what the Jamestown Island Englishmen drank

Our region is home to some of the biggest thinkers and brightest minds out there. With so many world-class research facilities in one spot, scientists are making discoveries across a range of disciplines, combating common challenges with all the 21st-century tools at their disposal and adding depth to the broad base of human understanding. Here is a small sample of a handful of projects going on in Hampton Roads right now.

William and Mary, Jamestown Island: It’s long been known that Virginia’s first settlers had water issues. Now a couple geologists from William and Mary, with the help of a research grant from the National Geographic Society, have set out to determine exactly what was in the water those Englishmen drank on Jamestown Island. Drs. Greg Hancock and Jim Kaste are measuring levels of salt, metals and fecal matter in the same aquifer that filled Jamestown’s shallow wells. These professors are seeing how natural factors, like seasons, influence the levels of these potentially lethal toxins. And they’ve also partnered with historians Drs. James Whittenburg and Julia Richter to see if the mortality schedule at Jamestown—when people died—meshes at all with the periods when the colonists’ water was particularly polluted.