• The Cairns Lab - Surf Study

    Surfers are helping the Cairns lab understand water quality, recreation, and health at beaches across the world!

Why does this research matter?

People’s health and the condition of environmental resources that they enjoy (like beaches!) are connected. Through this project we combine long-term data collected from surfers and information that we have about environmental change, recreational activity, and local choices about water management. We will analyze these things together to better understand people’s health and identify what things could potentially damage coastal water resources. This is a citizen science study, where people and scientists work together to address a real-world problem, in this case, coastal pollution. Thanks for visiting!

Meet Our Team.

Maryann R. Cairns

Assistant Professor - Anthropology

I am an applied environmental anthropologist studying the intersection of environment, infrastructure, and health, particularly socio-ecological interactions in polluted waterscapes. I am an Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Southern Methodist University. Click here for biography.

Erin Symonds

Affiliated Research Scientist - Marine Science

I am an affiliated research scientist for the MERA Investigation, a US NSF-funded research project that investigates how to improve beach management from a public health perspective. Click here for biography.

Richie Thomas

Ph.D Student - Anthropology

I am a Ph.D student in the Cultural Anthropology program at SMU. My dissertation research will focus on environmental aspects of health with emphasis on air quality. Some interests I have include perception of anthropogenic air pollution, and health programming. Click here for biography.

Margaret Ebinger

Undergraduate Student - Anthropology

I am an Undergraduate senior student double majoring in Public Policy and Health and Society. At Cairns Lab, I am an Undergraduate Research Assistant working in the MERA wastewater and pollution study. Click here for biography.

Marifer Tovar

Undergraduate Student - Economics

I am an Undergraduate senior student at SMU working towards my B.S in Economics with Financial Applications with a minor in Statistics. At the Cairns Lab, I am an Undergraduate Research Assistant working in the MERA wastewater and pollution project. Click here for biography.

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Complete a surfer profile

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Did You Visit a New Beach?

Help us learn more about where you are surfing.

Have You Been Feeling Ill?

Help us learn more about your symptoms.

Complete a weekly log

Help us learn more about your ocean activities.