The Millar Wilson Lab for Chemical Research

Research team on a boat

Pollutants. Aquatic Life. Human Impacts. What we're studying

Dr. Bielmyer-Fraser and her team of undergraduate and graduate students conduct extensive fieldwork along the east coast and the St. Johns River. Equipped with sampling instruments, salinity, pH, and dissolved oxygen meters, they study the accumulation of metals, microplastics, and other contaminants in sensitive aquatic species such as sea anemones, fish, and coral, as well as top predators such as dolphins and sharks. 

The Lab works closely with the St. Johns RiverKeeper, OCEARCH, Florida Fish and Wildlife, and various government organizations to study, support, and protect our waterways. 

Read about our research.

students researching on The Larkin boat

Research findingsWhat we've discovered

Some of our most significant findings include:

  • While White Sharks accumulate metals in their muscle tissue, they possess effective antioxidant enzymes to detoxify these contaminants, indicating good health. This paper is the first to document metal concentrations in the muscle of White Sharks.
  • For years, the Lab has comprehensively studied the Lower St. Johns River, offering baseline values for future research. Recently, we discovered that seasonal changes and storms overshadow site-specific differences in water quality; alarming metal levels, except for zinc, surpass EPA standards, raising concerns for local plants and animals; and species-specific metal accumulation, especially in Zannichellia palustris and Eleocharis sp., highlight potential SAV toxicity. Our studies of phytoplankton unveil diverse taxa, including a newfound species, Thalassiosira wongii, and links between contamination and reduced diversity. Human impact on the LSJR ecosystem is evident. Delve into the detailed research papers for deeper insights.

Read what we've published.

Make a giftSupport the Lab

Funds designated to the Millar Wilson Laboratory will be used to support environmental research in aquatic systems. Examples of ongoing research include:

  • Assessing water quality, contaminants, and phytoplankton populations in the St. Johns River
  • Investigating microplastic accumulation in sea anemones, dolphins, and sharks
  • Assessing metal accumulation in a variety of shark species collected from the southeastern United States
Make a gift of any size to support this important cause and help students at Jacksonville University meet their research goals. 

a group of marine biology students on a boat doing research at sea
Dr. Bielmyer-Fraser

"Research opportunities are vital for students to gain first-hand knowledge of the scientific method, develop critical thinking and data interpretation skills, and strengthen their writing and communication. I love to see students progress and become more competent research scientists through this process."

Dr. Gretchen Bielmyer-FraserDirector of the Millar Wilson Lab

Learn about research at Jacksonville University.

News from the Marine Science Research Institute

For any questions about the Millar Wilson Lab, contact Professor of Chemistry, Dr. Gretchen Bielmyer-Fraser at

At Jacksonville University, Dr. Bielmyer-Fraser leads the Millar Wilson Lab and the Undergraduate Research program. She teaches courses in chemistry and toxicology. 

Learn more about Dr. Bielmyer-Fraser

Contact Information The Millar Wilson Lab

Marine Science Research Institute
Jacksonville University
2800 University Blvd N
Jacksonville, FL 32211