Author Archive

Emerging Investigator Series: Alexander Gundlach-Graham

Alexander Gundlach-Graham obtained his Ph.D. in 2013 from Indiana University under the supervision of Prof. Gary Hieftje. His Ph.D. research focused on the development of distance-of-flight mass spectrometry. In 2014, Alex joined the group of Prof. Detlef Günther at ETH Zurich as a Marie Curie Postdoctoral Scholar. At ETH, his research centered on the combination of laser ablation with inductively coupled plasma time-of-flight mass spectrometry (ICP-TOFMS) for high-resolution elemental imaging and on the detection of engineered nanoparticles by single-particle ICP-TOFMS. Since 2019 he has been an Assistant Professor at IOWA State University, where his research now focuses on the development and application of atomic mass spectrometry (MS) to address current measurement challenges in environmental and bioanalytical sciences.

Read Alexander’s Emerging Investigator Series article “Single-particle ICP-TOFMS with online microdroplet calibration for the simultaneous quantification of diverse nanoparticles in complex matrices” (Open Access) and read more about him in the interview below:

Your recent Emerging Investigator Series paper focuses on automated single-nanoparticle quantification and classification. How has your research evolved from your first article to this most recent article?

I’ve been doing research in mass spectrometry for a while now, but the focus of my research has shifted quite a bit.  My Ph.D. research, which was in the group of Gary Hieftje at Indiana University, focused on the design, construction, and demonstration of a distance-of-flight mass spectrometer.  This was an instrumentation-heavy research project, and I really benefited from learning—at a basic level—operation principles of mass spectrometry instruments.  In my post-doc, which was at the ETH Zürich in the group of Detlef Günther, I began working on inductively coupled plasma time-of-flight mass spectrometry (ICP-TOFMS) for laser-ablation imaging applications.  Now, I continue to work with ICP-TOFMS, but I focus more on single- (nano)particle characterization.  A common theme in my research has been the use of atomic mass spectrometry to develop new measurement strategies.

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

I am excited about how we continue to improve our understanding of the single-particle measurements and about our work toward developing robust solutions for the high-throughput analysis of diverse nanoparticles.  I hope that our methods will be adopted by members of the growing single-particle ICP-TOFMS research community.  I am excited about sharing our research and seeing where it goes as more minds get involved.  I think sp-ICP-TOFMS will be a key approach going forward as we, and other researchers, continue to expand our understandings of the presence and fate of anthropogenic and natural nanomaterials in the environment.

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

Even with the development of sp-ICP-TOFMS, the quantification of anthropogenic nanomaterials in particle-rich environmental samples remains a challenge.  From an analytical perspective, I think that this measurement challenge needs to be resolved in order to build robust and accurate models of the fate and transport of anthropogenic particles in the environment.  This is essential for any monitoring of nano-pollution.  The major challenges here are mass-based detection limits and dynamic range, we still do not have an approach that can measure very small (<10 nm) nanoparticles while also quantifying these nanomaterials across large number concentrations (~100-107 particle/mL) and against particle backgrounds.

What do you find most challenging about your research?

Our biggest challenge is data interpretation.  We have now developed robust ways to find and quantify elements in nanoparticles; however, our tools for interpreting this data are at an early stage.  We put a lot of effort in developing approaches to streamline and improve classification of nanoparticle types.

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

I hope that we are able to start attending conferences in person soon; I’m looking forward to meeting colleagues and engaging in impromptu discussions once again.  My conference schedule is still tentative, but I plan to attend the ICEENN conference in Montreal in August, SciX in Rhode Island in September and Winter Plasma Conference in Florida in January of 2022.

How do you spend your spare time?

Pretty much all of my non-working moments are spent with my family.  My partner, Abi, and I have two children: 6 and 4 years old.  Like many families, we’ve spent a lot of time together in the last year.  We like to go on walks, read books, and cook.

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

I would be a baker.  Cooking is one of my hobbies, though I don’t spend as much time or creative energy on it as I would sometimes like.  I don’t make all of my family’s day-to-day bread, but I do a variety of baking: from pizzas, to Swiss “Butterzopf” on the weekends, to (occasionally) sour-dough rye.

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

My advice to early career scientists would be to trust in their own intuition and explore research areas that are inherently fascinating to them.  Research usually involves a mixture of failures and successes; curiosity-driven research makes navigating the downtimes in research more manageable and the fruitful times more satisfying.  “Listening” to your own scientific interests will help you develop specific scientific expertise that allows you to tackle science questions/problems from unique, innovative, perspectives.

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New Editorial Board Member: Tong Zhang

We are delighted to announce that Professor Tong Zhang (Nankai University, China) has joined the Environmental Science: Nano team as an Editorial Board member.

Tong Zhang is Professor in the College of Environmental Science and Engineering at Nankai University, China. She is also Deputy Director of the Strategic Development Department of Nankai University and Deputy Director of Tianjin Key Laboratory of Urban Ecological Environment Restoration and Pollution Prevention. Her research focuses on aquatic chemistry and geochemistry, mercury biogeochemistry, nanogeoscience, and soil and groundwater remediation.

“I’m constantly impressed and inspired by the high-quality research published in Environmental Science: Nano,” says Tong. “It is my great pleasure to join the editorial team and contribute to this distinguished community.”

Read some of Tong’s recent work in the journal:
Nanostructured manganese oxides exhibit facet-dependent oxidation capabilities
Di Fu, Lin Duan, Chuanjia Jiang, Tong Zhang and Wei Chen
Environ. Sci.: Nano, 2020, Advance Article. DOI: 10.1039/D0EN00958J

Sulfide and ferrous iron preferentially target specific surface O-functional groups of graphene oxide: implications for accumulation of contaminants
Fanfan Wang, Xinlei Liu, Xuguang Li, Chuanjia Jiang, Tong Zhang and Wei Chen
Environ. Sci.: Nano, 2020,7, 462-471. DOI: 10.1039/C9EN01217F

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New Editorial Board Member: Leanne Gilbertson

We are delighted to announce that Dr Leanne Gilbertson (University of Pittsburgh, USA) has joined the Environmental Science: Nano team as an Editorial Board member.

Dr Leanne Gilbertson is an Assistant Professor of Environmental Engineering at the University of Pittsburgh. She joined the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering in the Fall of 2015 and holds a secondary appointment in the Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering. Before joining the faculty, Dr Gilbertson was a postdoctoral associate in the Center for Green Chemistry and Green Engineering at Yale University where her research established and validated structure-property-function and structure-property-hazard relationships for engineered nanomaterials. She received her MS and PhD degrees from Yale University in the Department of Chemical and Environmental Engineering, supported by the NSF Graduate Research and EPA STAR Fellowships. She received her bachelor’s degree in chemistry with a minor in education from Hamilton College, after which she spent several years as a secondary school teacher before returning to graduate school.

Dr Gilbertson’s research group is engaged in projects aimed at informing sustainable design of emerging materials and technologies proposed for use in areas at the nexus of the environment and public health. They work in the areas of sustainable agriculture, water treatment, and combatting antimicrobial resistance. Dr. Gilbertson uses material chemistry manipulations to elucidate guidelines for how to control nanomaterial design with the intent of simultaneously enhancing their functional performance while minimizing their adverse impacts. In this work, she focuses on carbon nanomaterials (CNTs, graphene, and carbon nitride) and metal nanoparticles (Ag and Cu). Dr. Gilbertson also has expertise in life cycle assessment (LCA), which she applies to evaluate tradeoffs of emerging nanotechnologies. The results of these analyses are used to inform sustainable development of promising technologies. Her research is supported by the National Science Foundation, 3M non-tenured faculty award, and the Ralph E. Powe Junior Faculty Enhancement Award.

To find out more about her research group, please visit www.leannegilbertson.com and follow her on Twitter @lmgLab.

Leanne says: “My experiences with Environmental Science: Nano, as an author and reviewer, have always been incredibly positive. It is a great community of scholars striving to ensure that our field publishes high quality research. Environmental Science: Nano is my ‘go to’ source of reliable, cutting edge research in environmental nanotechnology. It is an honor to serve on the Editorial Board and I look forward to working with my distinguished colleagues at the journal.”

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RSC Environmental Science Desktop Seminar Series

Covid-19 has significantly impacted the way we communicate with each other, leading to in-person events being cancelled, and disrupting connections across the globe. It is now more important than ever to share the latest research and stay connected with one another.

We are proud to announce a new series of RSC Desktop Seminars, hosted by Environmental Science: Nano, Environmental Science: Water Research & Technology, Environmental Science: Atmospheres and Environmental Science: Processes & Impacts.

The RSC Desktop Seminar Series is an effort to not only replace in-person research seminars during the current pandemic situation but to also expand access for researchers around the world looking to connect to some of the leading minds in the chemical sciences. These Desktop Seminars are taking place within working hours of US and Europe time zones, however we encourage any and all interested to register and attend these free events!

6 October 2020 16:00 BST / 11:00 EDT
“Environmental nanotechnology – looking forward to 2030 and beyond”
Professor Peter Vikesland, Virginia Tech
Environmental Science: Nano Editor-in-Chief

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13 October 2020 16:00 BST / 11:00 EDT
“How virus structure and chemistry impacts environmental fate”
Professor Krista Wigginton, University of Michigan
Environmental Science: Water Research & Technology Associate Editor

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20 October 2020 16:00 BST / 11:00 EDT
“How particle physics experiments at CERN tell us about formation, growth, and climate effects of atmospheric particles”
Professor Neil Donahue, Carnegie Mellon University
Environmental Science: Atmospheres Editor-in-Chief

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27 October 2020 15:00 GMT / 11:00 EDT
“Masters of their fate: Revisiting atmospheric particle deposition and lifetime”
Professor Delphine Farmer, Colorado State University

Environmental Science: Processes & Impacts Editorial Board Member

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We hope that you can join us for these exciting events.

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