Author Archive

Emerging Investigator Series: Jennifer Apell

Jennifer Apell is an Assistant Professor of Environmental Engineering in the Department of Civil and Urban Engineering at NYU. She earned her PhD in Environmental Chemistry from MIT in 2017 and completed her postdoctoral research at ETH Zurich in the Department of Environmental Systems Science. Her research focuses on the environmental fate of manmade organic pollutants, specifically characterizing the mechanisms that control the equilibrium and kinetics of partitioning between environmental media and on light-driven degradation pathways.

Read Jennifer Apell’s Emerging Investigator Series article “quantifying the impact of cloud cover on solar irradiance and environmental photodegradation” and read more about her in the interview below:

Your recent Emerging Investigator Series paper focuses on Quantifying the Impact of Cloud Cover on Solar Irradiance and Environmental Photodegradation. How has your research evolved from your first article to this most recent article?

If you put this article next to the very first one I published during my master’s degree, you would probably be surprised they were from the same person. My first research was in water treatment engineering and focused on bench-scale testing of an ion exchange treatment processes for a small utility in Florida. This article uses machine learning models and publicly available data from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).

Make no mistake, I am still an experimentalist, but the COVID-19 pandemic required a lot of adaptation from early career faculty. There was some precedent for this work as it builds off some of my postdoctoral research on modeling clear sky irradiance spectra to quantify “best-case scenario” photodegradation rates. This new research tries to make those values more realistic by considering the effects of clouds. With the messiness of real world data, machine learning models proved to be a powerful tool to find overall trends hidden within tens of thousands of data points.

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


Learning some data science approaches during the lockdown was fun. However, many of these approaches are most useful for large datasets, which are pretty rare for the research I normally work on. I’m now looking forward to learning how advances in data science can be applied to analyze the sparse data sets that are typical when investigating the environmental fate of manmade chemicals.

I have also been focusing on having environmental justice concerns and community engagement guide and inform the research questions I address. New York City might be one of the best places for this. It is a new area for me, and the interest and engagement from the community that I have experienced so far is truly inspiring.

 

In your opinion, what are the most important questions to be asked/answered in this field of research?


That is a difficult question; there are so many questions that still need to be answered about pressing environmental concerns. Instead I would suggest that in our attempts to answer these questions, we give extra consideration to understanding the mechanisms—the ‘why?’—of the process. There are just too many chemicals and too many human-impacted environments for us to be investigating them on a case-by-case basis. Although our research may be focusing on a single pollutant or a single location, we should always try to put our results in a broader context so that the insights gained from our efforts can be translated to other situations.

 

What do you find most challenging about your research?


There are still so many things we don’t know about environmental processes and the impact that humans have on different environments. I’ve struggled with focusing on just a few research questions now that I have the freedom of a principal investigator. I find so much of the research in the field to be very exciting and important. I have a sign in my office that reminds me to stay focused on my currently chosen research questions.

 

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


I am co-organizing the Aquatic Photochemistry session at ACS this spring in San Diego. It looks like it is going to be amazing – so many good talks! I will unfortunately have to attend virtually. I’m also hoping to make it to AEESP and the Gordon Research Conference on Environmental Sciences: Water during the summer.


How do you spend your spare time?


My dog, Lumen, and I spend some time in the dog park, and I try to keep plants alive with varying success. I like to take the extra time to walk to places to get to know the neighborhood. I occasionally volunteer as a participant in other people’s research. I’ve been doing this since graduate school. Social science studies are particularly interesting because the research questions have always been hush-hush, so the tasks seem very random sometimes.


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

Well I was a practicing engineer for a while before returning to school for a PhD. But let’s say if I weren’t any kind of scientist or engineer, I think I would want to be a detective. The use of reasoning and the long time required for something to be concluded seems like it would be similar between the two professions.


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

Work on research questions that excite you. Equipment failure and inconclusive results are generally unavoidable, and being excited to answer the question can help get you through those hard times to the much happier times of contributing new data and knowledge to the field.

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Emerging Investigator Series: Gregory LeFevre

Greg LeFevre is an assistant professor of environmental engineering and science in the Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering and IIHR—Hydroscience & Engineering at the University of Iowa where he started in 2016. He did his BS at Michigan Tech, MS and PhD at University of Minnesota, and Postdoc at Stanford University all in environmental engineering. The LeFevreLab focuses on elucidating biotransformation products and pathways of emerging organic contaminants with the goal of informing improved design of ‘engineered-natural’ treatment systems for non-point pollutants, like urban stormwater and agricultural drainage, and transform wastes into resources, protecting people and ecosystems. Greg has received multiple sources of recognition for his work, including the National Science Foundation CAREER Award, the University of Iowa Early Career Scholar of the Year award, the American Chemical Society Editor’s Choice award and ACS Best Paper award, the Royal Society of Chemistry Environmental Sciences ‘Best Paper’ and multiple ‘HOT’ articles, National Academy of Engineering Frontiers of Engineering fellow, the AEESP Best Dissertation, amongst others.

Read Gregory LeFevre’s Emerging Investigator Series article “municipal wastewater as a year-round point source of neonicotinoid insecticides that persist in an effluent-dominated stream” and read more about him in the interview below:

Your recent Emerging Investigator Series paper focuses on Municipal Wastewater as a Year-Round Point Source of Neonicotinoid Insecticides that Persist in an Effluent-Dominated Stream. How has your research evolved from your first article to this most recent article? 

In some ways, my work has changed greatly through time, and in others it is very consistent. I did my PhD at the University of Minnesota focused on the fate and biotransformation of organic contaminants from stormwater in bioretention cells, and my postdoc was at Stanford focused on emerging contaminants in stormwater as well as plant metabolism of emerging contaminants during water recycling. Since starting at University of Iowa as a faculty member, we’ve been continuing in these areas and are also very interested in the fate and transformation of so-called ‘target-specific’ pesticides like the neonicotinoids. These compounds are so interesting and important because, although the parent compounds are explicitly designed to be less toxic to many non-target organisms, only very slight alterations to the chemical structure can dramatically alter the toxicity, reactivity, and fate of the transformation products.

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

I am really interested in how complex chemical exposure mixtures occur and change in the environment and could lead to unanticipated effects to biota. Complex mixtures are important because of the potential for interactive effects on organisms (e.g., drug-drug interactions); when mixtures change in space and time, so can the risk profile. New collaborative work that we’ve been doing at the field study site featured in this paper has been probing some of the spatiotemporal drivers of complex mixture evolution, as well risk patterns. Mixtures are how chemicals occur in the real environment.

In your opinion, what are the most important questions to be asked/answered in this field of research?

I believe that we are standing at the verge of multiple big-data “omics” revolutions, with a huge opportunity to converge high res mass spec with biological applications (transcriptomics, genomics) to link chemical exposures with effects to biota—which is ultimately why we care. This will be critical to being able to evaluate complex chemical mixture effects on organisms, which is very much a grant challenge—and difficult.

What do you find most challenging about your research?

I think that there is always a push-pull struggle between working at the interface between the fundamental but realistic and the more applied but less controlled. Navigating that is always a challenge, and I think that it’s important to be able to—and for journals to value—work across that spectrum. Field studies can be more ‘messy’, but are so important!

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

I usually am at ACS once a year, often at SETAC, AEESP, EmCon, and Gordon Env Sci Water. Of course, during the pandemic, that has been really disrupted.

How do you spend your spare time?

I have two little kids (4 and 2 years old), so not much spare time, but I like to do outdoors activities as much as possible. Fortunately, my girls love fishing (at least when we are catching fish), catching bugs, and exploring in the woods. A new creek is an all-day itinerary.

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

I honestly never really considered doing something that was not “a scientist” at least of some sort. My dad’s influence was really big on me; he was a woodworker by trade and taught me angles, planning, and precession—but his passion (and now retirement occupation) has always been ecological restoration. He took me with him to weekly volunteer workdays since I was four, and all of my jobs, internships, and education have been around the environmental sciences.

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

This might be both the worse and best advice to early career researchers during the pandemic: Make friends before you need them. By that, I mean reach out to folks across your university who might be of potential connection or collaboration before you ask them for something or want them to join on a collaboration or proposal. The first year I was at UIowa, I met with someone new every or every other week, from Public Health to Chemistry to Education to Water Resources, etc. and mostly listened, but also got to share a little of what I do and my interests. Totally pull the ‘new person’ card, people will give you an hour. It totally makes coming back to people later with an idea less awkward, and some have resulted in great collaborations—and it’s much better than people only coming together to rally around a proposal (assuming they even know who you are). Getting to know folks is even more important during COVID, but harder.

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Emerging Investigator Series: Li Li

Li Li is an Assistant Professor leading the Health & Environment Assessment Team (HEAT) at the University of Nevada, Reno since 2019. He obtained his BSc and PhD degrees from Nankai University in 2012 and Peking University in 2017, respectively, and received postdoctoral training at the University of Toronto Scarborough between 2017 and 2019. His research seeks to understand the accumulation, transport, transformation of synthetic chemicals (e.g., flame retardants, plasticizers, pesticides, and surfactants) and materials (e.g., nanomaterials and microplastics) in a nexus comprising the human socioeconomic system, environment, and food webs, as well as the resulting adverse environmental and health effects. He strives to establish, foster, maintain, and promote a variety of mechanistically sound and computationally effective models, to advance our thinking and understanding of the behavior and processes of synthetic chemicals and materials and meanwhile to inform decision making.

Read Li Li’s Emerging Investigator Series article “the role of chemical properties in human exposure to environmental chemicals” and read more about her in the interview below:

Your recent Emerging Investigator Series paper reviewing the role of chemical properties in human exposure to environmental chemicals. How has your research evolved from your first article to this most recent article?

I research various chemical substances manufactured and commercialized by humans and but found to be hazardous to humans and other organisms. For the past years, I have been striving to develop a holistic, mechanistic modeling framework to describe the complete continuum from the production of these chemical substances to their occurrence within the human body. This modeling framework integrates various components such as production, environmental releases, environmental concentrations, exposure, and risks. It allows exploring how human exposure to chemical substances responds to industrial and consumption activities, physicochemical properties of chemicals, features of the environment of interest, and human behavior. I first managed to bridge chemical production, environmental releases throughout the lifecycle, and multimedia environmental concentrations through my doctoral work (compiled as a book entitled “Modeling the Fate of Chemicals in Products” published by Springer). This work was then expanded, during my post-doctoral training, to include the exposure of humans and various ecological receptors, leading to the birth of a comprehensive exposure model named “PROduction-To-EXposure (PROTEX)”. During the most recent year, I continued to extend the chain of models to include toxicity and health outcomes to support assessments of health risks and impacts. This ambitious modeling framework now enables scientists, industrial users, and policymakers to predict what would happen to our environment and health if we decide to manufacture a certain amount of a certain chemical substance; it also allows linking the adverse environmental and health impacts at the current moment back to the regrettable decisions decades ago.

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

The interdisciplinarity of my work is the most fascinating. The quantitative characterization of the continuum from chemical production to environmental and health impacts, requires synergistic leveraging of the knowledge and successful experience in environmental chemistry, exposure and health sciences, and industrial ecology. We need systematic understandings of how chemicals move, change, and accumulate in the human socioeconomic system, the physical environment, and the bodies of humans and other organisms. An example is this Emerging Investigators article, which discusses how properties of partitioning, dissociation, reaction, and mass transfer (concepts in environmental chemistry) govern and impact external and internal exposure to various chemical substances (concepts in exposure science). Both environmental chemists and exposure scientists can benefit from reading this paper. I am proud that I am one of the pioneers seeking to fuse these independent research areas and make them interdependent and interconnected.

In your opinion, what are the most important questions to be asked/answered in this field of research?

I think the most important question is to understand how human activities (manufacturing and consumption of chemical substances, behaviors related to chemical intake, measures for mitigating health risks or impacts, etc.) and chemical properties (tonnage, partitioning, reaction, dissociation, mass transfer, etc.) interactively determine human exposure to chemicals and associated health outcomes. Especially, we need a better understanding and characterization of how variabilities in these two aspects (e.g., interindividual variabilities in toxicokinetics, behavior, and toxicological susceptibility, as well as inter-chemical variabilities in partition ratios, half-lives, and mass transfer coefficients) shape the varied human exposure and health outcomes.

Such a systematic understanding is of vital importance because we are exposed to a myriad of chemical substances present in the multimedia environment, released from multiple lifecycle sources, through multiple exposure routes – it is close to impossible to investigate every single chemical case by case. And we also need to identify the most vulnerable and susceptible subgroups of people with disproportionate chemical exposure if we want to protect every single person in our community for environmental justice and fairness.

What do you find most challenging about your research?

The interdisciplinarity also brings about challenges. There has long been a lack of communication and dialog between scientists from these different disciplines. Knowledge and experience are largely compartmentalized and fragmented. For instance, while environmental releases “remain the least understood part of the research” to environmental chemists, industrial ecologists already have a wide range of well-established, mature methodologies on hand for estimating the lifecycle releases of chemical substances. However, since data of environmental releases are not directly measurable or observable, they cannot be evaluated or validated without being converted to concentrations in environmental compartments, which often plagues industrial ecologists due to the lack of fate and transport modeling techniques in industrial ecology. In addition, a common language or knowledge is also missing in many cases. An example is the biotransformation of chemical substances inside the organism body: while its important role in determining bioaccumulation and human dietary ingestion of chemical substances has been very well recognized and characterized by environmental chemists, as reviewed in this Emerging Investigators article, it has yet to be widely accepted by most exposure scientists and/or toxicologists. Also, terminologies and nomenclatures vary among these different disciplines, which adds difficulties to communication and dialog between these research areas. For example, just ask ourselves: what are we talking about when saying “bioavailability”? When using this word, are we really referring to the same thing as an environmental chemist, a toxicologist, an exposure scientist, or a pharmaceutical scientist does?

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

I usually attend the annual meetings of the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry in North America and Europe. I am also a frequent attendee of the annual meetings of the International Society of Exposure Science.

How do you spend your spare time?

I spend my spare time with my wife, hanging out, watching films and variety shows, and exploring various food and fun. I am also a nice photographer!

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

I may choose to become a journalist, as I love to investigate the truths beneath the surface and share intriguing stories with others. To me, a scientist is quite similar to a journalist, as they both relay something unknown to the audience through their efforts of exploration.

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

It is important to understand both the big picture of the research area and the detailed, fundamental technical skills (e.g., laboratory, modeling, fieldwork, observational methodologies) required in the research area. Vision is crucial to success, but bringing vision into reality is more important. After all, “talk is cheap, show me the data”.

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Emerging Investigator Series: Rachel O’Brien

Rachel received her Ph.D. from UC Berkeley in Allen Goldstein’s group and then carried out two postdocs, one at Lawrence Berkeley National Lab and the other at MIT. She started a faculty position in the Chemistry department at William & Mary in 2017 where she is now entering her fifth year. Her research focuses on complex organic mixtures found in aerosol particles and on indoor and outdoor surfaces. With a team of undergraduates and masters’ students, she probes details on the chemical composition and investigates how the mixtures change as they age under natural conditions. Collaborations are a key component of her research, and she is so happy to have had the opportunity to take part in the HOMEChem field campaign to investigate questions in indoor chemistry.

Read Rachel O’Brien’s Emerging Investigator Series article “Chemical and Physical Properties of Organic Mixtures on Indoor Surfaces During HOMEChem” and read more about her in the interview below:

Your recent EmergingInvestigator Series paper focuses on Chemical and Physical Properties of Organic Mixtures on Indoor Surfaces During HOMEChem. How has your research evolved from your first article to this most recent article? 

During my PhD, I explored the chemical composition of aerosol particles using soft ionization and ultra-high resolution mass spectrometry. In my first postdoc I worked on imaging individual aerosol particles using microspectroscopic techniques. During my second postdoc, I helped develop a method to atomize very small sample volumes into an Aerosol Mass Spectrometer. This most recent article is built on all these research skill sets. To fully understand the chemical composition and physical properties of complex mixtures like the ones we look at here, you need a range of different techniques. I’m so fortunate to have had the opportunity to combine my group’s main skill set (chemical analysis) with work from our collaborators to build a full picture of the chemical and physical properties of these indoor films.

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

I’m really excited about the aging work that we are doing for complex organic mixtures from biomass burning, secondary organic aerosol, and indoor surface films. Our ability to track chemical changes over longer periods of time is providing some really interesting data sets.

In your opinion, what are the most important questions to be asked/answered in this field of research?

In indoor chemistry I think we really need to understand the chemical mixtures we have both in the surface films, but also in the air. In addition to that, we need to understand the variability that is present since no two houses or workplaces will be the same. With the Pandemic, many of us are spending more time indoors and this begs the questions: what are we breathing and what are we exposed to in these environments? Once we understand all this, we can better design aspects of the built environment, like ventilation and building materials, to improve our health and the quality of our daily life.

What do you find most challenging about your research?

The data sets we generate are complicated and can take long periods of time to analyze. As a pre-tenure faculty member, the slower pace for this can be a bit stressful. But the time we spend pays off in the detailed information we can generate.

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

I will be at AAAR this fall, and I’ll be attending AGU remotely.

How do you spend your spare time?

I don’t find that I have a lot of spare time, but what I do have I spend with my husband Jeremy.  I hope to get back into swimming again once things open back up after the Pandemic.

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

If I weren’t a scientist, I would want to run a ranch focusing on beekeeping with lots of fields of different native flowers combined with wine fields.

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

Find good people to work with: people who both encourage you and provide good feedback. Science is a great field to work in when you have a community of fantastic collaborators and mentors to share your journey.

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Themed Issue Open for Submissions: Biogeochemistry of the Trace Elements

Environmental Science: Processes & Impacts seeks your highest impact research for our upcoming Themed Issue dedicated to Biogeochemistry of the Trace Elements

Guest Edited by Elsie Sunderland (Harvard University, USA) and Lenny Winkel (Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science & Technology, Switzerland)

This themed issue will showcase advances in research on the biogeochemistry of trace elements, highlighting the wide range of biogeochemical processes and environmental impacts of essential as well as toxic trace elements. Of special interest for the themed issue is research related to interfaces, such as mineral-water and aerosol-gas phase reactions, research linking environmental compartments, such as hydrosphere/ atmosphere interactions and regional/ global trace element cycling, as well as research on coupled biogeochemical cycles, such as coupled trace element cycles or coupled trace element-carbon cycling.

Submissions due: 17th December 2021

Submit your work now: https://mc.manuscriptcentral.com/em

We welcome urgent Communications, Full papers and Reviews. Upon submission, please add ‘‘Invited for the Biogeochemistry of the Trace Elements themed issue’ in step 4 of the submission process. All manuscripts will undergo initial assessment and peer review as per the usual standards of the journal.

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Latest HOT, Review and Open Access content from ESPI

We are delighted to share with you a hand-picked selection of papers recently published in Environmental Science: Processes & Impacts (ESPI).

HOT papers – as recommended by our Editors & Reviewers

Interactions of emerging contaminants with model colloidal microplastics, C60 fullerene, and natural organic matter – effect of surface functional group and adsorbate properties
Tyler Williams et al

Biodegradation kinetics testing of two hydrophobic UVCBs – potential for substrate toxicity supports testing at low concentrations
Rikke Hammershøj et al

An emerging mobile air pollution source: outdoor plastic liner manufacturing sites discharge VOCs into urban and rural areas
Seyedeh Mahboobeh Teimouri Sendesi et al

Read more HOT papers at rsc.li/espi-hot

Reviews & Perspectives – timely overviews of key topics in environmental science

A review of aerosol chemistry in Asia: insights from aerosol mass spectrometer measurements
Wei Zhou et al

Passive air sampling for semi-volatile organic chemicals (Open Access)
Frank Wania and Chubashini Shunthirasingham

Effects of aging and weathering on immobilization of trace metals/metalloids in soils amended with biochar
Yuchi Zhong et al

Read more Reviews at rsc.li/espi-reviews

Open Access – read for free!

An overview of the uses of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS)
Juliane Glüge et al

The importance of aromaticity to describe the interactions of organic matter with carbonaceous materials depends on molecular weight and sorbent geometry
Stephanie Castan et al

The ecological half-life of radiocesium in surficial bottom sediments of five ponds in Fukushima based on in situ measurements with plastic scintillation fibers
Estiner Walusungu Katengeza et al

Read more Open Access content at rsc.li/espi-oa

**************************************************

We hope you enjoy reading these papers, and we welcome your future submissions to the journal.

Submit to Environmental Science: Processes & Impacts

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Latest HOT, Review and Open Access content from ESPI

 

 

 

 

We are delighted to share with you a hand-picked selection of papers recently published in Environmental Science: Processes & Impacts (ESPI).

HOT papers – as recommended by our referees

A global atmospheric chemistry model for the fate and transport of PFCAs and their precursors
Colin P. Thackray et al.

Trichloroacetyl chloride, CCl3COCl, as an alternative Cl atom precursor for laboratory use and determination of Cl atom rate coefficients for n-CH2=CH(CH2)xCN (x = 3–4)
Sofie Askjær Hass et al.

Geochemical and isotope analysis of produced water from the Utica/Point Pleasant Shale, Appalachian Basin
T.L. Tasker et al.

Read more HOT papers at rsc.li/espi-hot

Reviews & Perspectives – timely overviews of key topics in environmental science

Quantifying the efficiency and selectivity of organohalide dechlorination by zerovalent iron
Feng He and Paul G. Tratnyek et al.

Potential risks of antibiotic resistant bacteria and genes in bioremediation of petroleum hydrocarbon contaminated soils
Maria S. Kuyukina et al.

How the 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill reshaped our understanding of crude oil photochemical weathering at sea: a past, present, and future perspective
Collin P. Ward and Edward B. Overton

Read more Reviews at rsc.li/espi-reviews

Open Access – read for free!

A geospatially resolved database of hydraulic fracturing wells for chemical transformation assessment
Andrew J. Sumner and Desiree L. Plata

Comparing non-targeted chemical persistence assessed using an unspiked OECD 309 test to field measurements
Zhe Li and Michael S. McLachlan

The importance of aromaticity to describe the interactions of organic matter with carbonaceous materials depends on molecular weight and sorbent geometry
Thilo Hofmann et al.

Read more Open Access content at rsc.li/espi-oa

Sign up for alerts       Themed Issues       Emerging Investigators       Submit

 

 

 

 

About ESPI
Published on a not-for-profit basis by the Royal Society of Chemistry and led by Editor-in-Chief Professor Kris McNeill (ETH Zurich), ESPI publishes high quality papers in all areas of the environmental chemical sciences, including chemistry of the air, water, soil and sediment. With a team of expert Associate Editors providing a first decision on submissions in just 38 days*, ESPI is committed to providing you with efficient and attentive service throughout the publication process. Furthermore, our flexible article types with no page or word count restrictions allow you to disseminate your research in a format that best suits you. More about the journal can be found at rsc.li/espi

Meet the ESPI team

 

 

 

 

*Average time from receipt to first decision for peer reviewed manuscripts in 2019

Find out more about the advantages of publishing in a Royal Society of Chemistry journal including our Open Access options

ESPI is complemented by our sister journals, Environmental Science: Nano, Environmental Science: Water Research & Technology and Environmental Science: Atmospheres; find out more about the these journals at rsc.li/envsci

 

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Why publish with ESPI?

 

 

 

 

Environmental Science: Processes & Impacts (ESPI) publishes high quality papers in all areas of the environmental chemical sciences, including chemistry of the air, water, soil and sediment.

Submit to ESPI and benefit from:

  • Broad readership: our global audience provides maximum exposure for your work
  • Rapid times to publication – our average time to decision for peer-reviewed manuscripts is just 38 days†
  • Expert Associate Editors (Marianne Glasius, Helen Hsu-Kim, Ed Kolodziej, Matthew MacLeod, Desiree Plata and Paul Tratnyek) handling the peer review of submissions
  • Flexible articles types with no word count restrictions or colour charges
  • Green and Gold Open Access options
  • Publicity on twitter for featured articles
  • Not-for-profit publisher: The Royal Society of Chemistry is committed to supporting the global scientific community by investing into our charitable activities, such as education, outreach, and science policy
  • Opportunities for early-career researchers to be featured in our Emerging Investigator Series

 

 

 

Discover the latest high-quality research published in ESPI by browsing our Best Papers of 2019

For the latest journal updates sign up to receive journal news and issue alerts

Click here to return to the journal homepage

†Average time from receipt to first decision for peer reviewed manuscripts in Q1 2020

ESPI is complemented by our sister journals, Environmental Science: Nano, and Environmental Science: Water Research & Technology; find out more about the these journals at rsc.li/envsci

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Halogenated (semi)volatile organic compounds – Themed Issue in ESPI

In March 2020 Environmental Science: Processes & Impacts published a special issue on Halogenated (semi)volatile organic compounds (“X(S)VOCs”).

Guest Edited by Elizabeth Edwards (University of Toronto), Lucy Carpenter (University of York), Sarah Blossom (University Arkansas Medical Science) and ESPI Associate Editor Paul Tratnyek (Oregon Health & Science University) this Themed Issue features research and reviews on chlorinated solvents, their metabolites, disinfection byproducts, and their environmental occurrence, fate, effects, and remediation. You can read the Editorial introducing this issue here.

 

 

 

 

 

Read the full issue at rsc.li/halocarbons

Below is a small selection of some of the articles featured in this issue:

Retrospective on microbial transformations of halogenated organics
L. McCarty, C. S. Criddle and T. M. Vogel

Placenta as a target of trichloroethylene toxicity
Elana R. Elkin, Sean M. Harris, Anthony L. Su, Lawrence H. Lash and Rita Loch-Caruso

Quantifying the efficiency and selectivity of organohalide dechlorination by zerovalent iron
Feng He, Li Gong, Dimin Fan, Paul G. Tratnyek and Gregory V. Lowry

Natural and anthropogenic sources of bromoform and dibromomethane in the oceanographic and biogeochemical regime of the subtropical North East Atlantic
Melina Mehlmann, Birgit Quack, Elliot Atlas, Helmke Hepach and Susann Tegtmeier

Diverse dechlorinators and dechlorination genes enriched through amendment of chlorinated natural organic matter fractions
Hanna R. Temme and Paige J. Novak

Summation of disinfection by-product CHO cell relative toxicity indices: sampling bias, uncertainty, and a path forward
Elizabeth McKenna, Kyle A. Thompson, Lizbeth Taylor-Edmonds, Daniel L. McCurry and David Hanigan

Comparison of modeled and measured indoor air trichloroethene (TCE) concentrations at a vapor intrusion site: influence of wind, temperature, and building characteristics
Elham Shirazi, Gregory S. Hawk, Chase W. Holton, Arnold J. Stromberg and Kelly G. Pennell

We hope that you enjoy reading the great research featured in this issue.

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Emerging Investigator Series: Garrett McKay

Dr. Garrett McKay joined the Zachary Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering at Texas A&M University in September 2019 as an assistant professor. Dr. McKay’s research focuses on the fundamental chemistry occurring in natural and engineered systems, including aquatic photochemistry, dissolved organic matter characterization, and treatment of emerging contaminants.  After graduating with his BA and MS in chemistry at California State University Long Beach, Dr. McKay completed a PhD in Environmental Engineering in 2017 at CU Boulder. Dr. McKay is looking forward to contributing to the growing Environmental Engineering program at A&M by sharing his passion for chemistry with undergraduate and graduate students through his teaching and research.

Read Garrett McKay’s Emerging Investigator Series article “Critical review of photophysical models for the optical and photochemical properties of dissolved organic matter” and read more about his in the interview below:

Your recent Emerging Investigator Series paper focuses on a Critical review of photophysical models for the optical and photochemical properties of dissolved organic matter. How has your research evolved from your first article to this most recent article?

During my PhD, my research mostly focused on the formation of reactive oxidants during light absorption by organic matter, which is one way that organic matter dissipates the energy of absorbed photons.  As our studies progressed in this area, they revealed that there was a need to investigate how it is that organic matter absorbs and emits light in the first place. 

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

We have just started synthesizing some quinone-hydroquinone complexes to test whether these model systems exhibit optical properties similar to dissolved organic matter.  We are looking forward to getting back in the lab, when it is safe to do so due to SARS-CoV-2, and performing some reactions on these complexes.

In your opinion, what are the most important questions to be asked/answered in this field of research?

The three-dimensional structure of organic matter is really important for a lot of processes, not just light absorption and photochemistry, such as pollutant sorption.  Knowing more specific details about organic matter’s three-dimensional structure (e.g., hydrophobic surface area, whether the structure is static or dynamic) will help address some of the knowledge gaps identified in this review.

What do you find most challenging about your research?

The biggest challenge is the complexity of dissolved organic matter, which really hinders obtaining a molecule-by-molecule understanding of the material.  Fortunately, this complexity is also fascinating to me.

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

The International Humic Substances Society biennial conference is scheduled for August in Estes Park, CO in August, which I am planning to attend.  I am usually at the spring ACS meeting each year to participate in the Aquatic Photochemistry session in the Division of Environmental Chemistry.

How do you spend your spare time?

I enjoy spending time with my wife and playing with our 10 month old son. When I have spare time I try to get out for a run or round of golf.

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

Potentially an attorney.  I think I would like the analytical nature of their work.

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

Invest the time to develop a fundamental understanding of what you are studying, whether it is a new experimental or analytical technique, fundamental concept, or data analysis tool.  With the pressure of getting research “done,” it can be tempting to gloss over details.  Taking the time dig deeper is beneficial in the long-run.

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