Author Archive

Emerging Investigators Series – Andres Martinez

We are delighted to introduce our latest Environmental Science: Processes & Impacts Emerging Investigator, Andres Martinez!

Andres Martinez is a Researcher Scientist and Adjunct Assistant Professor at the University of Iowa, USA. He has 10 years of scientific research experience, during which he has developed expertise in the areas of field sampling, development of analytical method and analysis of hydrophobic organic compounds in complex environmental matrices, environmental modeling, and data analysis. Distribution, transport, and fate of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in air, water and sediment/soil have been his main areas of interest, where he has already published more than twenty peer review papers in high impact scientific journals. His research has included collaboration with other researchers in the Iowa Superfund Research Program, IIHR-Hydroscience & Engineering, department of Occupational and Environmental Health, the Center for Global and Regional Environmental Research (CGRER), and Lucille A. Carver Mississippi Riverside Environmental Research Station (LACMRERS), at the University of Iowa. He has also collaborated with researchers in the department of Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering, the University of Texas at Austin and researchers from the Department of Environmental Health, Boston University

 

Read his Emerging Investigators series article “Development and application of polymeric electrospun nanofiber mats as equilibrium-passive sampler media for organic compounds” and find out more about his research in the interview below:

Your recent Emerging Investigator Series paper focuses on the role of the use of polymeric electrospun nanofiber mats for monitoring environmental organic compounds. How has your research evolved from your first article to this most recent article?

It is quite different. Most of my research focus on measuring and modelling PCBs and other POPs in the environment (air, water, sediment) using already tested active and passive sampling methods. Here, we developed “from scratch” a novel passive method to measure more polar organic compounds in water and sediment systems.

What aspect of your work are you most excited about at the moment?

Exploring new research ideas.

In your opinion, what is the biggest advantage of using nanofiber mats over traditional organic compound sampling mediums?

As we emphasize in the paper, the idea of fabricating electrospun nanofiber mats (ENM) that sample during the equilibrium stage, which minimizes the uncertainty when calculating the environmental concentration. It is very promising (i.e., shorter field deployments and easier analytical detection). In addition to the ENM high surface area-to-volume ratios (S/V), that is a faster sampler, we can improve their uptake performance through surface chemical functionalization and addition of nanoparticles.

What do you find most challenging about your research?

Generate interesting research questions that can be funded.

In which upcoming conferences or events may our readers meet you?

SETAC Minneapolis.

How do you spend your spare time?

With my family.

Which profession would you choose if you were not a scientist?

Good question. Outdoor photographer…

Can you share one piece of career-related advice or wisdom with other early career scientists?

Develop new collaborations

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Emerging Investigators series – Anke Neumann

 

We are delighted to introduce our latest Environmental Science: Processes & Impacts Emerging Investigator, Anke Neumann!

Anke Neumann is an environmental chemist (MSc in Chemistry from ETH Zurich, 2004) and received her PhD from ETH Zurich (2009). She carried out postdoctoral research in Bangladesh (freelance, 2009-2011) and at the University of Iowa (fellowships, 2011-2013). In 2014, Anke joined Newcastle University as a Lecturer in Environmental Engineering.

Her research focuses on redox processes at the mineral-water interface and how these processes affect the fate of organic and inorganic compounds in the environment. For more details, visit her research group’s website

Read her Emerging Investigators series article “As(V) in magnetite: incorporation and redistribution” and find out more about her research in the interview below:

 

Your recent Emerging Investigator Series paper focuses on sorbed and incorporated As on magnetite and the effect of Fe minerals on As mobility in natural systems. How has your research evolved from your first article to this most recent article?

My first article was based on my MSc work on the redox reactivity of Fe(II) species associated with Fe-bearing clay minerals and I have worked on redox reactions of Fe minerals and their effect on contaminant fate ever since. I started working on the interactions between Fe minerals and As after my PhD, when I led and conducted a long-term field project investigating As removal from drinking water with zero-valent iron-based filters in Bangladesh. It was then lucky coincidence that I arrived in Michelle Scherer’s lab as a postdoc just as Brittany Huhmann was beginning her MSc project on As-magnetite interactions, which provided the data for this most recent article.

What aspect of your work are you most excited about at the moment?

I am actually excited about two projects. On the one hand, my PhD students have been producing very interesting results from their work on contaminant degradation with Fe-bearing clay minerals that they reduced with dissolved Fe(II). On the other hand, I am also interested in oxygenation reactions of Fe(II)-bearing clay minerals, which have long been overlooked and are now – finally – enjoying increasing attention. So, this new field is expanding and quickly gaining momentum, and I am excited to contribute to further developing this field.

In your opinion, what is the potential impact of your findings on groundwater quality?

I do not think that our findings will change groundwater quality per se but rather increase our understanding of how and where As is sequestered in the environment, for example an aquifer. The new insights will also help us to design and engineer sequestration pathways, be it in situ in the aquifer or once the water has been pumped to the surface. This will be particularly important when we think about water management for the future, which will likely include approaches such as managed aquifer recharge or aquifer storage and recovery and produce conditions under which As sequestration into magnetite could occur.

What do you find most challenging about your research?

Most of my research focuses on understanding reactions mechanisms and how things work at a very fundamental level. I find it sometimes difficult to convince others of the significance and relevance of my research to environmental issues and ‘real-world’ problems.

In which upcoming conferences or events may our readers meet you?

I usually attend one or two conferences a year, such as Goldschmidt, ACS National Meetings, or the Clay Minerals Society Annual Meeting. My ‘conference season’ has just ended with the start of the new semester and so far, the only set event this year is the biennially held Iron Biogeochemistry workshop.

How do you spend your spare time?

I spend most of my free time with my family. Seeing my daughter (4) grow up, exploring the world, and, just recently, starting school is my reality check and spending time with her makes me realize the (other) really important things in life.

Which profession would you choose if you were not a scientist?

This is one of the most difficult questions for me – I never really considered any other profession. I think that if I had to quit being a scientist, I would need to do something really different but I also enjoy creating ‘TOC art’ and similar, although I am not sure that I am sufficiently artistic to make this a profession.

Can you share one piece of career-related advice or wisdom with other early career scientists?

As a scientist, your work is constantly being judged: prepare yourself for harsh criticism and also failure to convince, for example reviewers of your papers or grant applications. When I am faced with rejection, I find it important to be able to tap into a broad variety of support: from my colleagues who have been in the same situation and cheer me on; from my friends who engage me in a life outside of academia; and, most importantly, from my family who so naturally confront me with a totally different perspective on things.

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Environmental Chemistry of Water, Sediment, Soil and Air: Early careers meeting

Environmental Chemistry of Water, Sediment, Soil and Air: Early careers meeting is taking place in London, UK on 14th December 2017.

Organised by the Royal Society of Chemistry’s Environmental Science Group, you will have the opportunity to share your research in a supportive environment, network with fellow early career scientists, and hear about the career opportunities available to Environmental Chemists.

Speakers include:

Dr Ailsa Stroud – Defra Air Quality team​
A Senior Scientific Policy Advisor, currently working for Defra’s Air Quality team, Ailsa Stroud has provided impartial scientific advice to the UK Government on atmospheric chemistry and air quality, climate change, global resilience and adaptation strategies and geoengineering. Following her PhD in Atmospheric Chemistry from the University of Cambridge, she spent 5 years as an Ice Core Analytical Chemist at the British Antarctic Survey, leading field programmes in both polar regions.She is also a Visiting Fellow at Ca’ Foscari University of Venice.​

 
Dr Laura Newsome​ – ​University of Manchester
Laura is a research scientist currently working at the University of Manchester. Her research explores how microorganisms affect the fate and transport of contaminants and metals in the natural environment. For her PhD she investigated how natural microbial processes can be stimulated in the subsurface to remediate radioactively contaminated groundwater.  In between obtaining her degree in environmental geology and starting her PhD, Laura spent 6 years working as a radioactive substances and chemicals scientist at the Environment Agency and as an environmental consultant.

Key Dates:

Abstract Deadline: 16th November

Early Bird Registration Deadline: 16th November

Registration Deadline: 30th November

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23rd International Symposium on Environmental Biogeochemistry

23rd International Symposium on Environmental Biogeochemistry (ISEB23), Palm Cove, Australia on 25-29th September 2017, hosted by the International Society for Environmental Biogeochemistry.

The Symposium brings together environmental scientists with a diverse range of interests in an intimate setting which encourages close interactions and exchange of information. A major attraction of the ISEB Symposia are their broad, cross-disciplinary coverage and single theme format. Attendance is typically 150 people.

The theme of this years symposium is “From cells to Earth scale processes: traversing the breadth of temporal and spatial scales in biogeochemistry” and includes sessions on:

  • Biogeochemistry of mined/industrial environments and impacts of resource extraction
  • Frontier techniques in environmental biogeochemistry and microbiology (e.g. –omics)
  • Aquatic and terrestrial microbiology including studies on extreme environments
  • Impacts of pollutants on ecosystems and their remediation
  • Biological interactions and transformations of metallic and organic contaminants in the environment
  • Soil, water and landscape processes (including atmospheric fluxes/interactions)
  • Microbe-mineral-organic matter interactions
  • Marine and coastal biogeochemistry (special focus on tropical coastal systems e.g. reefs)
  • Biogeochemical cycling of major (C, N, P, S) and minor elements – methods, applications, fundamental and applied studies

Key Dates:

Abstract deadline: 31st May 2017

Early Bird Registration: 28th July 2017

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DOXIN 2017

International Symposium on Halogenated Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) – DIOXIN 2017 will be held on 20-25th August in Vancouver, Canada at the Sheraton Wall Centre.

The year 2017 marks the 37th anniversary of the Dioxin Symposia. In 1980, Otto Hutzinger organized the first symposium in Rome, Italy. Since then, annual symposia (except 1983) have been held in cities around the world. Over the past 37 years, there have been major advances in the analytical determination, and the understanding of the transport, fate and toxic behavior of these compounds. The year 2017 also marks the 150th anniversary of Canada. We will have numerous activities and celebrations showcasing Vancouver and Canada

This years conference will have over 60 sessions covering all expects of POPs and will include numerous special sessions, including new and emerging persistent organic pollutants (POPs) such as halogenated flame retardants and perflourinted chemicals.  Environmental Science: Processes & Impacts Advisory Board member, Stuart Harrad, will be presenting at the event.

Key Dates:

Abstract Deadline: 21st April 2017

Early Bird Registration: 30th June 2017

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Emerging Investigators Series: Yu (Frank) Yang

 

Yu (Frank) Yang is an Assistant Professor at the University of Nevada, Reno, working in the Civil and Engineering Department. Prior to this, he completed both his undergraduate studies and PhD at Peking University, China. His current research interests include: the impact of global climate change on the fate of critical pollutants; the response of organic matter geochemistry to the temperature increases; and the colloid-facilitated reactive transport of insoluble radionuclides.

Read his Emerging Investigators article “Dual role of organic matter in the anaerobic degradation of triclosan” and find ourmore about Frank and his research in the interview below:

Are you within 10 years of receiving your PhD? Do you have an independent research career? Then you could be eligible for our Emerging Investigator Series! find out more at rsc.li/emerging-espi

 

Your recent Emerging Investigator Series paper focuses on the role of organic matter in the anaerobic degradation of triclosan. How has your research evolved from your first article to this most recent article?

My first research paper is about the human exposure to legacy pesticides (e.g. DDT) and their health risk. My Ph.D. studies and postdoctoral projects are mainly focused on the organic matter-mediated fate and transport of organic and inorganic pollutants. In this paper, we have found an interesting novel dual role of organic matter in the degradation of an emerging organohalide compound.

What aspect of your work are you most excited about at the moment?

In my research group, we are mainly working on the important environmental redox reactions, focusing on the degradation of organohalides, microbial assimilation and plant uptake of carbon nanomaterials, and stability of soil organic carbon. We are currently using lots of state-of-the-art technologies to study the transformation of organohalides and natural organic carbon, which is really exciting to us.

In your opinion, what is the biggest impact to the environment presented by antimicrobial agents?

Release of antimicrobial agents can induce the development of antimicrobial resistance, which is one of the biggest environmental problems.

What do you find most challenging about your research?

I would like to fully understand the degradation pathways of emerging organohalides and work out cost-effective removal strategies. Both are challenging tasks.

In which upcoming conferences or events may our readers meet you?

My group and I will present our work (6 talks and 3 posters) at American Chemical Society 2017 Spring Meeting (April 2-6, 2017, San Francisco). I am also chairing two symposia with my colleagues, with one for redox reactions and the other for nanomaterials.

How do you spend your spare time?

When I have spare time, I enjoy watching movies, playing chess, and spending time with my family.

Which profession would you choose if you were not a scientist?

Without science, probably I would become a high-school teacher.

Can you share one piece of career-related advice or wisdom with other early career scientists?

Have a good balance and be persistent. Balance between the crazy ideas and relatively “low-risk” projects, balance between pursuing grants and publishing papers, balance between research and teaching, and many others

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Emerging Investigator Series: Cora Young

We are delighted to be able to bring you the first in interview for our Emerging Investigators Series in Environmental Science: Processes and Impacts

Cora completed her undergraduate and doctoral studies in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Toronto. Under the supervision of Prof. Scott Mabury, her Ph.D. research focused on the atmospheric chemistry of polyfluorinated compounds and their role as long-lived greenhouse gases and sources of persistent compounds to the environment. She went on to a postdoctoral position in Boulder, CO with Dr. Steven Brown at the University of Colorado and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). There, she developed novel, state-of-the-science instruments and used them to measure reactive atmospheric trace gases and determine their impact on the oxidative potential of the atmosphere. Cora joined the Department of Chemistry at Memorial University as an Assistant Professor in September 2012.

Read her Emerging Investigators article “A 14-year depositional ice record of perfluoroalkyl substances in the High Arctic“, which is featured in Issue 1 of the journal, and find out more in the interview below:

Are you within 10 years of receiving your PhD? Do you have an independent research career? Then you could be eligible for our Emerging Investigator Series! find out more at rsc.li/emerging-espi

Your recent Emerging Investigator Series paper focuses on improving the understanding of transport of perfluoroalkyl substances in the High Arctic. How has your research evolved from your first article to this most recent article?

One of my first papers as a graduate student also involved looking at long-range transport of perfluoroalkyl substances to the Devon Ice Cap and was published ten years ago. As instrumentation improves and we develop better analytical methods, we are able to learn so much more about how pollutants impact our environment. We were able to look at four times as many chemical species as the original study, which greatly increases our understanding of the environmental fate of these compounds. We have also expanded our research network to include Northern community members and Arctic researchers with complementary expertise, which allows us to interpret and apply our results more effectively.

What aspect of your work are you most excited about at the moment?

We have some new environmental field and laboratory samples, including ice cores and biomass burning smoke samples, that I am excited to analyze using analytical techniques recently developed in my group.

In your opinion, what is the biggest impact to the environment presented by perfluoroalkyl substances?

Perfluorinated compounds have no natural degradation pathways in the environment. When we emit these chemicals to the environment, they will remain for the foreseeable future. We know that many perfluoroalkyl molecules bioaccumulate and could affect the health of humans or animals, which is cause for concern because there is no going back to an environment uncontaminated with these chemical species.

What do you find most challenging about your research?

I find field work simultaneously the most rewarding and the most difficult aspect of my research. Addressing environmental chemistry questions often means challenging collection of samples (such as those from ice caps) or the design and/or operation of complex instrumentation under harsh conditions.

In which upcoming conferences or events may our readers meet you?

Canadian Chemistry Conference and Exhibition in Toronto, Ontario (June 2017) and Healthy Buildings Europe in Lublin, Poland (July 2017). I can also be found online at cjygroup.com and on Twitter @SVOCora.

How do you spend your spare time?

I don’t have too much of it right now! When I do have free time, I enjoy travelling, walking, hiking, reading, and yoga.

Which profession would you choose if you were not a scientist?

It’s hard to imagine my life without science! If I wasn’t a scientist, I would want to do something that still involved science, like science communication or conservation management.

Can you share one piece of career-related advice or wisdom with other early career scientists?

Seek out a supportive career network of mentors, collaborators, and colleagues. I have been fortunate to have wonderful mentors from my doctoral and post-doctoral work, and throughout the environmental chemistry community. My excellent collaborators from other academic institutions, Environment Canada (who were collaborators on this project), and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration improve the quality and impact of my research and make it more fun to do!

To find out more about the series and submit an article, click here.

 

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What’s new in the analysis of complex environmental matrices?

What’s new in the analysis of complex environmental matrices?

Royal Society of Chemistry

Environmental Chemistry Group, Water Science Forum and the Separation Science Group Joint Meeting

Friday 3rd March 2017

at

Science Suite, Royal Society of Chemistry, Burlington House, Piccadilly, LONDON, W1J 0BA

The analysis of environmental matrices such as water, sediments and soils is often demanding and challenging for the chemist due to both matrix effects and the myriad of substances that can be present in the sample. This one-day Royal Society of Chemistry Meeting, jointly organised by three special interest groups (Environmental Chemistry Group, Separation Science Group and Water Science Forum), addresses this issue. It is the third in sequence of biennial conferences. The meeting brings together national and two international experts on the topic. The monitoring and screening-type analyses of a wide range of both regulatory and emerging pollutants (such as pharmaceuticals and personal care products) in water is major theme of the event. The detection of potentially hazardous compounds in dusts and consumer articles is also considered. Other topics to be addressed include new types of detectors (i.e. ion mobility spectrometry, direct probe time-of-flight mass spectrometry and selected ion flow tube mass spectrometry) for measuring environmental chemicals. In addition to the lectures, there will an exhibition where number of instrument manufacturers and suppliers of laboratory consumables will be presenting.

Important Date

Registration Deadline: 28th February 2017

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