Emerging Investigator Series – Joseph Goodwill

Joe Goodwill is currently an Assistant Professor in the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department in the College of Engineering at the University of Rhode Island, a position he started in the fall of 2017. In this appointment he executes research in physical-chemical processes, water quality, and water-poverty issues. He also teaches classes focused on water treatment and reuse, and environmental analytical techniques. His Ph.D. and M.S. degrees in Civil Engineering are from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. He also holds a B.S. in Civil Engineering from Lafayette College. Prior to entering academia, Joe was a Project Engineer for Black & Veatch working on global projects out of their Philadelphia office. He is a licensed Professional Engineer (PE), and a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Accredited Professional. Joe also works with multiple international water NGOs, supporting projects in Malawi, India, Ghana, and Bolivia. He received an NSF Faculty Early Career Development Award in 2021.

Read Joseph Goodwill’s Emerging Investigator article “Emerging investigator series: Moving beyond resilience by considering antifragility in potable water systems” and read more about him in the interview below:

Your recent Emerging Investigator Series paper focuses on Moving Beyond Resilience by Considering Antifragility in Potable Water Systems. How has your research evolved from your first article to this most recent article?

In my previous work, I focused exclusively on individual physicochemical processes such as oxidation, adsorption, coagulation, and filtration. My prior research looked at these processes individually without considering overall plant design. Here, my co-authors and I take a system-level view of drinking water plants and articulate a few ways they might be designed differently to best cope with the future. I believe that when we “zoom out” like this, there emerge opportunities to incorporate antifragility into the system so that during periods of volatility, performance improves. This contrasts with being resilient whereby performance would still deteriorate under volatility but recover relatively quickly.

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

This antifragility research is exciting because it is inherently applied research. Potable water systems are struggling with extreme events and volatility right now, and solutions are urgently needed. Fortunately, antifragile processes, such as manganese oxidized media, are at a high technical readiness level. Also, some of the tools available to design antifragile systems, such as artificial neural networks, are beginning to see usage in the field. The challenge is to first consider the antifragile paradigm. Helping water system designers with this is deeply rewarding.

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

The most pressing question is: How do we prepare for climate change and extreme events? I argue in this perspective paper that our best course of action is to embrace these changes rather than take an adversarial posture. Resilience is in conflict with change. To be resilient is to bend and possibly break as a result of stress, but recover relatively quickly. I believe we would do better by becoming antifragile to these changes and thrive when stressed, not just survive. This would decrease reliance on prediction and lead to better water quality.

The next question assuming a water system wants to incorporate antifragility is: How do we become antifragile? In the paper we develop several examples of process changes a plant could make that provide more upside than downside to certain types of volatility. We also develop some tools that would enable antifragile designs. For example, digital twins are an emerging tool gaining traction in the field allowing for “stress testing” of systems to future conditions.

What do you find most challenging about your research?

With the topic of antifragility, the most challenging aspect is getting people to understand it. I also struggled with it, initially. I find that the resilience/robust paradigm is so engrained that often engineers cannot think of an alternative. There are advantages to considering antifragility that water systems designers and managers may find useful. Primary among these advantages is no longer needing precise predictions of the future (that often are not the most accurate). Once we open ourselves up to the antifragile paradigm we can make informed decisions about our water systems. There are downsides too, of course, and one of them is cost. An antifragile system will cost more than a system that is optimized for lowest cost given assumed stationarity. We also describe in the paper a way to consider these additional costs through the process of tradeoff analysis.

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

I can typically be found at the American Water Works Association (AWWA) Water Quality & Technology Conference (WQTC), the Association of Environmental Engineering & Science Professors (AEESP) Research and Education Conference, and the American Chemical Society (ACS) Annual Fall Conference. I am also happy to meet virtually (e.g., Zoom etc.) with anyone interested in my work.

How do you spend your spare time?

I enjoy being physically activate, and vacations include hiking or other outdoor activities. Cultivating a love of nature makes me a better environmental engineer. I also like to make music and I am currently teaching myself the banjo.

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

I sometimes daydream that I had a career in the United States military. My heart goes out to all those that wear the uniform. I ultimately feel that being an environmental engineering professor is my highest and best use, and I try to serve my country through research and teaching.

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

Do not pursue money or prestige. Instead, focus on what gives you a sense of purpose and peace. Those are the feelings that will carry you through difficult times in your life, and you should chase them with everything you have. Listen to the still, small voice inside of you. It is trying to tell you something important.

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Emerging Investigator Series – Alexandre Pinto

I am Alexandre H. Pinto, popularly known as Alex Pinto. I have been an Assistant Professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at Manhattan College in New York City since Fall 2019. My research combines concepts of nanoparticle synthesis, experimental kinetics and thermodynamics studies of water environmental remediation, mainly by adsorption and photocatalytic mechanisms.

A little bit about myself, I was born and raised in Brazil. I also obtained my Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry and a Master’s degree in Physical Chemistry there, at Universidade Federal de Sao Carlos. Then, I moved to the USA for Graduate School. I obtained my Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of Minnesota in 2017, advised by Prof. R. Lee Penn.

Read Alexandre Pinto’s Emerging Investigator article “Emerging investigator series: Photocatalytic membrane reactors: fundamentals and advances in preparation and application in wastewater treatment” and read more about him in the interview below:

How did you decide on your current research field?

The focus of my Ph.D. research was the synthesis of nanoparticles of transition metal sulfides using the microwave as a heating method, mainly envisioning thin films preparation for solar cell applications. Although my research at that time had been rooted in the Green Chemistry Principles, there was no correlation to water remediation and its kinetics studies. I started to get interested in this area when I was working with an undergraduate Summer student, and one of the compounds we prepared seemed to have some photocatalytic activity. That eventual finding got me starting on reading the literature, learning about the adsorption and photocatalysis setups and calculations. I could not take to fruition these fields during my Ph.D. research, so, in my spare time, I used to brainstorm how I could implement it when I became a Principal Investigator. By the time I graduated, I felt intellectually equipped to implement these ideas as soon as a chance appeared.

And when could you finally implement these ideas?

My contact with undergraduate students during Graduate School revealed that I would like to be a Professor in a Primarily Undergraduate Institution (PUI). These schools are common in the USA. They are institutions that work mostly with undergraduate students, offering undergraduate degrees. Some of them usually offer Masters’s degrees, but not Ph.D. degrees.

So, in my last year in Graduate School, I started applying for positions in PUIs, and I was fortunate to get a job in Ithaca College, in Ithaca, NY state. This position was very particular regarding its attributions. Officially it was called Postdoctoral Teaching and Research Scholar. In practice, it was very similar to a Visiting Assistant Professor Position. I say that because I had to develop my own courses and received support from the Department to conduct my own research group with my own ideas and undergraduate advisees. And that is when I consider the birth of the Alex Pinto group, in Fall 2017. It was when I could start implementing my first ideas about photocatalysis and adsorption studies.

Those two years that I worked in Ithaca College were wonderful. I was fortunate to work with amazing students and supportive colleagues, who gave me the confidence that I was on the right path. That time was so productive that our group ended up publishing five peer-reviewed articles from the research started at that time. We also received the best poster presentation in one ACS regional Meeting (ACS Northeast Nanomaterials Meeting, Lake Placid, NY, June 2018), and one ACS National Meeting (at 257th American Chemical Society National Meeting, in Orlando, FL, April 2019). But even more important to that was the opportunity to help the former students from our group to get into the job, Master’s or Ph.D. Programs from their choice, by writing recommendation letters, helping them crafting their materials, and talking to potential employer’s calls.

So, talk more about the article you published in the Emerging Investigator Series?

The article published in the Emerging Investigators Series is a tutorial review called “Photocatalytic membrane reactors: fundamentals and advances in preparation and application in wastewater treatment”. My collaborator in this project was Professor Mahbubhoor Choudhury, from the Manhattan College Department of Environmental Engineering. This article talked about the fundamentals and state of the art of photocatalytic membrane reactors (PMRs). These reactors combine the filtering and photocatalytic degradation processes to eliminate pollutants from wastewater. We included papers describing both lab-scale simulated wastewater and pilot-scale real matrices wastewater. We also covered different types of pollutants, such as pharmaceutical molecules and antibiotic-resistant bacterias. There are topics about antifouling properties of the PMRs too. We also tried to include our viewpoints about the future developments in the PMRs fields.

How did the idea to write this review article came up?

I first received the invitation from editorial office in early Summer 2020. Due to the journal’s scope, I thought it appropriate to write a tutorial review about photocatalytic membranes, which is the area the groups of Prof. Choudhury and mine had started collaborating. Unfortunately, by that time, the labs were all closed due to the covid-19 restrictions. So, we could not envision much advancement in our experimental research by that time. This fact indicated to us that the review article would be the best decision at that time. Then, the Environmental Engineering Master student Andrew Ashley and the undergraduate Biochemistry major Brandon Thrope worked on writing about half of the article. The other half was divided between Professor Choudhury and I. We also compiled and edited the version submitted to the journal.

And since the tutorial review article elaboration, how has your research evolved?

Since then, we have been glad to be funded by a research grant from the American Chemical Society Petroleum Research Fund (ACS-PRF). In this project, we have been working on developing photocatalytic membranes for the desulfurization of simulated fuels. The students in my group are now specifically working on methods to prepare composites of graphene oxide and titanium dioxide (TiO2), aiming to use these composites as active materials in the photocatalytic membranes. If everything works as planned, we hope to advance to membranes preparation in the next few months. Once the membranes are prepared, we can start studying them both in the batch and flow regimes for water pollutants photocatalytic degradation and photocatalytic desulfurization.

Here, I can not refrain to cite our collaborators in these projects. Since, I first started at Ithaca College, I have kept collaborating with Professor Nirupam Aich, from the Civil and Environmental Engineering at University of Buffalo. Professor Aich and his students have been essential for us to characterize the materials using the techniques we do not have in Manhattan College, such as scanning electron microscopy. Another long-time collaborator is Prof. Rajesh Sunasee from the State University of New York (SUNY) in Plattsburgh. Prof. Sunassee provide us functionalized cellulose nanocrystals, which we have used for the kinetic studies of simulated wastewater remediation. A local collaboration that we will benefit from in the later stages of the project is Prof. Anton Oliynyk, who is my department colleague at Manhattan College. Prof Oliynyk will be working closely with our students on applying computational methods to adsorption different molecules on the surface of these membranes. We also have a couple of international collaborators, mostly from Brazil, such as Dr. Jose Clabel, from the University of Sao Paulo Institute of Physics of Sao Carlos, and Prof. Luiz Fernando Gorup, from Federal University of Alfenas Institute of Chemistry, from both of them we have collaborations on different types of metal oxide nanoparticles preparation and characterization.

Dr. Mahbuboor Choudhury and Dr. Alexandre H. Pinto, the corresponding authors in the Tutorial Review published in the Emerging Investigator Series.

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

At this moment, I am excited about how the metal oxide nanoparticles shapes are going to impact the photocatalytic activity of the membranes, considering that these metal oxide nanoparticles are the photocatalytic active components of the membrane.

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

How to make the photocatalytic membranes have higher photocatalytic activity on the visible range of the electromagnetic spectrum. Usually, doping is a possible strategy, but not all doping ions would be indicated as safe to be present in a membrane to be applied in a real wastewater treatment plan. So, other strategies to tune the band gap of these materials should be sought.

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

Usually, I attend the ACS National Meetings, at least one of them per year. I am looking forward to the events resuming to be attended in person safely. So, I can start attending the ACS National Meetings again.

How do you spend your spare time?

I enjoy spending my spare time with my wife and my two kids: a toddler boy and a baby girl.

What do you find most challenging about your research?

Photocatalytic membranes combine different materials in the membrane. So, the preparation of each individual material is already a challenge. Then, once we know how to prepare them individually, the next challenge is to make them a singular material with the desired functional properties of the membrane.

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

Since I started taking choosing a profession more seriously, I always envisioned myself teaching. So, probably I would be a teacher in some other capacity, maybe a high school teacher. When I was younger and thought of profession only to be a hobby-related choice, I would probably be a soccer reporter or commentator and a writer in some capacity.

Who are your role models in science?

My role models are always people who worked with me during these years, and they all contributed immensely to getting the scientific background and knowledge that I have. In this group of people, I usually cite four scientists/educators. The first one is Prof. Emerson R. Camargo, who got me started in chemistry research when I was undergrad. I worked with him for almost six years, combined undergraduate and Master’s degrees in Universidade Federal de Sao Carlos. Then, my Ph.D. advisor, Prof. R Lee Penn from the University of Minnesota. It was a pleasure working on her group all those years in Graduate School. It is great to work with an advisor who is reputable not only for her scientific endeavors but also for her activism for minorities, diversity, equity, and inclusion. Third, I would like to remark on Prof. Eray Aydil, now at NYU Tandem School of Engineering, in NY. We worked closely when he was still working at the University of Minnesota Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science. He was a co-PI in a project with my advisor, and we used to have group meetings every other week. I really admire his capacity to have abundant ideas about the paths a project should take based on the preliminary results presented. And finally, I am also really grateful for the opportunity to work with Prof John Dwyer from Saint Catherine University in Saint Paul, Minnesota. Prof Dwyer had many decades of teaching experience in PUI. I first met him when he was spending a sabbatical period in Prof Aydil group. Knowing about Prof Dwyer’s immense teaching experience, I asked if he could mentor me in this process, which he gladly did. His mentorship and experience were great for making me better prepared for the academic job market.

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

Do not be discouraged because of negative feedback of reviewers on manuscripts and proposals. Believe in your own motivation and resilience. Although some reviewers are very offensive in their comments to early career scientists, try to not take these comments personally. Maybe that reviewer is on a bad day or was not trained to express their opinions in a more polite way. It does not mean, at all, that you are incapable to that proposed idea to fruition.

Dr. Pinto, is your group present on any social media?

Yes, we are very active on Twitter. Our Twitter handle is @AlexPintoGroup. Twitter has been a very useful tool for interacting with other research groups and knowing more about their research. We also have our official website www.alexpintogroup.com.

Dr. Alexandre H. Pinto, and the undergraduate students from his group, in Fall 2021. From left to right: Donovan Vincent, Dylan Cho, Dr. Pinto, and Malik Williams.

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Emerging Investigator Series – David Hanigan

David Hanigan graduated from the University of Missouri – Columbia with a B.S. in Civil and Environmental Engineering in 2009.  He was awarded an M.S. in 2011 from the University of Missouri where his research focused on the removal of trihalomethane (THM) and haloacetic acid (HAA) precursors using MIEX and activated carbon.

His PhD research (2015, Arizona State University) focused on removal, characterization, and identification of N-nitrosamine precursors. Following completion of his PhD studies, he served as a post-doctoral researcher at Arizona State University and studied the implications of nanomaterial use through their life cycle (EPA funded through the LCNano network).

Since Fall 2016, David has been an Assistant Professor at the University of Nevada, Reno.  Hanigan is affiliated with the Nevada Water Innovation Institute, a  shared effort between the local Reno/Sparks water resource agencies and utilities and the University of Nevada.  Hanigan is also actively engaged in the Global Water Center, a University of Nevada Center that focuses on having real impact by finding sustainable solutions to drought, pollution, pathogens, and beyond.

Read David Hanigan’s Emerging Investigator article “Emerging investigator series: rapid defluorination of 22 per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances in water using sulfite irradiated by medium-pressure UV” and read more about him in the interview below:

Your recent Emerging Investigator Series paper focuses on the defluorination of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances in water. How has your research evolved from your first article to this most recent article?

Research that my lab now conducts is VERY different from what I published as a MS student.  I focused on disinfection by-products for both my MS and PhD and while I still have actively funded research in this area, we are doing lots of other fun things now too.  This article focused on PFAS remediation but we also have some cool funded efforts to develop instrumentation to improve the speed at which the DoD can conduct site characterization and determine if and how much remediation needs to be done.  Another project focuses on determining if PFAS are a vapor intrusion threat. Outside of PFAS we have worked to determine pharmaceutical loading to crops during irrigation with reclaimed water and how to reduce the loading of pharmaceuticals to the environment by improving waterless urinals. One student is even working on water quality effects of wildfire.

I started off working on reducing the human health threat of exposure to harmful small molecules and that is still where I am at, but the range of which small molecules I am interested in has grown substantially.

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

We are getting ready to publish some really neat data on the volatility of PFAS.  The field has very little experimental data on their volatility and we stumbled on a really novel way to measure their Henry’s Law constants.

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

What are the sources of PFAS in the atmosphere.  Overall we have a pretty poor understanding of the source apportionment of what is up there.

What do you find most challenging about your research?

Balancing it with the rest of my obligation as a faculty member and my life.

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

I just got back from AWWA WQTC.  I also regularly attend AEESP conferences, the GRC on disinfection by-products, SERDP events, and ACS.

How do you spend your spare time?

I supervise a small human.  I also still find time to mountain bike in the Sierra Nevada and the foothills around Reno.  I begrudgingly ski during the snowy part of the year.

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

Something low stress where I could work with my hands. I used to mow lawns, maybe that. I find it therapeutic. Or I might go the opposite direction and be a college football sharp.

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

Meet lots of people. There’s nothing better than being able to phone an expert and it really helps when you are job hunting.  Also, don’t take things too seriously.

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Emerging Investigator Series – Xiao Su

Xiao Su is an Assistant Professor in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, and an Affiliate of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. He obtained his Bachelor in Applied Sciences in Chemical Engineering from the University of Waterloo in 2011, and PhD in Chemical Engineering from MIT in 2017. His group focuses on the design of stimuli-responsive materials for advanced separations, and the fundamental study of molecular selectivity at electrochemical interfaces. Current research directions of interest include developing electrochemically-mediated separations for (a) for water treatment, resource recovery, and environmental remediation, (b) critical element recovery and fine chemical purification, and the (c) integration of reactions and separations for process intensification. Since joining Illinois, Xiao has been the recipient of the NSF CAREER Award (2019), the ACS Victor K. Lamer Award (2020), and the ISE-Elsevier Prize for Green Electrochemistry (2021).

Read his Emerging Investigator article “Emerging investigator series: electrochemically-mediated remediation of GenX using redox-copolymers” and read more about him in the interview below:

Your recent Emerging Investigator Series paper focuses on the electrochemical remediation of PFAS from water. How has your research evolved from your first article to this most recent article?

My research has evolved significantly from my first article, which came from my undergraduate work at the University of Waterloo. I did my first co-op internship at the School of Optometry at UW, back in the winter of 2007. The article was published in 2009, presenting accurate measurements of the density of bovine ocular components. And yes, the experiments did involve collecting cow eyes and dissecting them!

Since then, my research has evolved significantly, both through my PhD at MIT and my tenure-track research here at UIUC, to encompass areas of research in chemical engineering, environmental engineering, and materials chemistry. My current group at UIUC focuses on developing new separation processes to solve energy and sustainability problems, including the integration of reaction and separations for water treatment and environmental remediation. The principal platform explored by my group are redox-active materials, which through electron-transfer, can modulate adsorption and release of target molecules, while providing selectivity.

Our recent article at ESWRT came from the very timely need for PFAS remediation. PFAS are a difficult yet highly interesting challenge for separations science, due to their unique properties and chemical stability. Our contribution is a demonstration of the capabilities of redox-polymers to selectively remove PFAS electrochemically and assist in environmental remediation, with a focus on GenX. I hope our work can help provide sustainable and efficient alternatives to this very timely environmental challenge.

In sum, I would say that research trajectories can often surprise us, such as going from bovine eyes to electrochemical water treatment!

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

I am very excited about the growing interest in electron-transfer based technologies, and the opportunities for connecting fundamental molecular interactions with practical environmental processes. It has been exciting to see how our insights at a molecular and nanoscale can have an impact on macroscopic selectivity and the adsorption performance.

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

I think important questions include (1) how electrochemical systems can achieve or maintain molecular selectivity within complex matrices, especially with different water sources and co-contaminants, and (2) to understand why these selectivity arise, and on the long-term, gain more predictive capabilities over the materials design.

What do you find most challenging about your research?

Broadly for electrochemical separations, it is always challenging to find the balance between capacity, selectivity, and stability, and solutions often focus on one or at most two of the components. On the long-term, systems may need to meet all three criteria to be translatable to large-scale applications. I think this will require interdisciplinary collaborations between different academic fields, partnerships with industrial stakeholders, etc.

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

I usually attend the American Chemical Society (ACS) Spring meeting (including the ENVR division sessions), the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) meeting in the Fall, and the Electrochemical Society (ECS). Internationally, I often attend the International Society of Electrochemistry (ISE) meetings, and the biannual CDI&E meetings. I look forward to connecting more with the broader community from ESWRT at future conferences and events!

How do you spend your spare time?

I really enjoy playing/watching soccer, some occasional Fifa on the Xbox, and more often, just hanging out with friends and family. My family and friends live now in various different places, so traveling is always a large part of my holiday activities.

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

I would definitely want to be a manager/coach for a soccer team. I have watched soccer since growing up in Brazil, and I have followed both the Brazilian national team and my home team Fluminense. More recently, I have watched a lot more of the English Premier League. I find all aspects of the managerial side fascinating, including the team selection and tactics, style of play, as well as all the excitement surrounding the transfer market.

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

Do not be afraid to be creative, and try to come up with new solutions. I think even when all questions seem to be answered in a certain topic or area, there could be surprising insights and innovation if we think outside the box.

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New ESWRT Advisory Board members!

The Environmental Science: Water Research & Technology team is very pleased to welcome two new researchers to our Advisory Board!


Professor Chris Gordon

Prof. Chris Gordon is the Founding Director of the Institute for Environment and Sanitation Studies at the University of Ghana. He holds a PhD in Human Environmental Health and Ecotoxicology from King’s College, London. He serves as the CDKN Country Engagement Lead for Ghana He has 35 years of experience in teaching, research, and outreach. He has contributed to the development of several policy documents for the Ghana Government, such as Climate Change Policy, Biodiversity, Science, Technology and Innovation, Water, Buffer Zone, as well as the State of the Environment Report 2016. Chris Gordon has won several awards including the Order of the Volta, awarded by the Government of Ghana for service in Development, Education and Research.


Professor Vincenzo Naddeo 

Prof. Vincenzo Naddeo is a professor at the Department of Civil Engineering and Director of the Sanitary Environmental Engineering Division (SEED), University of Salerno (Italy). He is also an affiliated professor both at University of Washington (Seattle, WA, USA) and at Tamkang University (Taiwan), and his research interests range from Environmental Science to Green Technologies.

 

 

 


Please join us in warmly welcoming Professors Gordon and Naddeo to the ESWRT Advisory Board.

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Emerging Investigator Series – James Landon

Dr. James Landon is the Founder & CTO of PowerTech Water, Inc. (PTW), a water treatment start-up company in Lexington, KY and an Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering at the University of Kentucky. Dr. Landon has spent over a decade on electrochemical water treatment, carbon electrode synthesis and surface chemistry, and electrochemical engineering including. Prior to transitioning to full-time employment at PTW in 2019, Dr. Landon was a Research Program Manager at the University of Kentucky Center for Applied Energy Research, where he lead or helped to lead many state and federal research projects. He has authored and co-authored over 50 peer-reviewed publications and patents filed in the field of electrochemical separations as well as numerous conference presentations. Dr. Landon received his BS in Chemical Engineering from Lehigh University in 2006 and a PhD in Chemical Engineering from Carnegie Mellon University in 2011.

Read his Emerging Investigator article “Emerging investigator series: local pH effects on carbon oxidation in capacitive deionization architectures” and read more about him in the interview below:

Your recent Emerging Investigator Series paper focuses on Local pH Effects on Carbon Oxidation in Capacitive Deionization Architectures. How has your research evolved from your first article to this most recent article?

Initial research focused on the importance of carbon structure towards its desalination properties. However, it became evident early on that desalination with carbon electrodes depended on more than just the pore space and that surface properties of the electrode played one of the most critical roles. Since this realization, along with other exciting work completed in the field of capacitive deionization, manipulation of these surface properties allowed for the creation of an exciting new desalination technique, which was coined inverted capacitive deionization. Publications from Gao et al. and Omosebi et al. highlight the importance of these advances. In more recent years, the variance of carbon surface surface properties in relation to the bulk pH and the local pH has been used to further evaluate and advance capacitive deionization systems, which was the focus of this manuscript.

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

I am most excited on how local pH effects can be used to perform more refined and selective salt separations. There is some exciting work being carried out by others in this area as well, and it could lead to more widespread adoption of capacitive deionization as a separation technique.

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

Coordinating carbon electrode properties under various electrolyte conditions in order to perform specific separation processes is quite intriguing. Competing with membrane-based technologies to conduct general salt removal will be tough given currently available commercialized systems. If carbon surface characteristics can be used for designed separations that can be modulated under applied voltages, there could be some notable breakthroughs achieved in the field.

What do you find most challenging about your research?

The ability to achieve not only a separation but also achieve it reliably is quite important. This necessity means that longer experiments must be performed, and a multitude of characterization techniques must be carried out in addition to taking into account electrolyte compositions. All of these factors lead to needing a diverse research group to assess all of these factors. While this makes the research exciting, it also means that coordination and planning are needed to achieve reliable and impactful results.

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

Typically, you can find me at Electrochemical Society conferences as well as CDI&E conferences, which are held every other year.

How do you spend your spare time?

I truly like to reconnect with nature as much as I can in my spare time. Hiking, running, and playing tennis are all great activities to me. I find that spending time outdoors can help provide clarity in the ever increasing pace of the world.

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

Funny enough, I nearly pursued a career as a lawyer, specifically in the area of patent law. While I am certainly glad that I choose to pursue a career in science, the legal profession was next on my interest list.

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

Keep your ears open. People can surprise you with their insights. Also, there is no substitute for hard work. It is discipline that keeps us all moving forward.

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Emerging Investigator Series – Ray Xiao

Ray received his Ph.D. degree from the Ohio State University, U.S, following two years postdoctoral training in Stockholm University, Sweden. He took up a faculty position at Central South University, China, where he is now a full professor. His research topics cover a diverse set of organic contaminants related investigations. He is interested in understanding how to remove trace organic contaminants using advanced oxidation technologies and how to develop different modelling tools to predict reaction kinetics and mechanisms. He has received over 5 M (RMB) in research funding and has over 80 publications. His h-index is 35, and there are 15 papers selected as ESI (Essential Science Indicator) 1% highly cited papers. He was awarded for excellent reviewers for many renowned journals. He also severs as associate editor for Environmental Chemistry Letters, editorial boards for Chemical Engineering Journal, Process Safety and Environmental Protection, and Scientific Reports.

Read his Emerging Investigator article “Emerging investigator series: Could superoxide radical be implemented in decontamination processes?” and read more about him in the interview below:

Your recent Emerging Investigator Series paper focuses on superoxide radicals. How has your research evolved from your first article to this most recent article?

I did ultrasound sonochemistry for my Ph.D. degree back in Columbus Ohio. I remember one of reactive oxidative species bursting from cavitation bubbles was said to be superoxide radical. For a long period of time, I really wanna understand what kinds of role does it play and how it can be implemented into decontamination processes. But I cannot find too much information on this radical from environmental engineering perspective. So shortly after being academically independent, me and my students developed a reliable approach to generate superoxide radical at micromolar level in aqueous solution. We then constructed an in situ long-path spectroscopy to investigate the kinetics and mechanisms of superoxide-mediated degradation of various organic contaminants. This perspective is based on our knowledge accumulation on superoxide radical these years. We hope that the perspective motivates researchers in the field of water quality and treatment for further exploration of this exciting area.

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

I am really into the reactivity and reaction mechanisms of superoxide radical with various organic contaminants. The fundamental knowledge we gained will be beneficial to environmental engineers/chemists.

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

In this paper, we emphasize challenges that we are facing ahead (e.g., lack of solid kinetic reactivity data, unclear synergistic mechanisms with other ROS). We believe that the environmental applications of superoxide chemistry deserve more thorough debate in the water engineering communities,

What do you find most challenging about your research?

I found elucidation of reaction mechanism is always a difficult task to do, especially in a complex system with different kinds of radicals coexisting.

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

I usually attend the ACS conference and National Conference on Environmental Chemistry in China.

How do you spend your spare time?

With my family. I spend lots of time with my daughter Jiyuan.

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

I am very passionate about writing. If I didn’t embark on the academic path, I guess I could be a novel writer?

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

I am honored to be able to share some of my professional experience here. I did learn a lot is that we should be bold and try hard when good ideas come to minds right away.

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Live Webinar: Data-intensive water systems management and operation themed issue

Recently, we launched a Data-intensive water systems management and operation themed issue, which is open for submissions until September 10th 2021. This issue is Guest Edited by Branko Kerkez (University of Michigan, USA), Kris Villez (Oak Ridge National Laboratory, USA) and ESWRT Editorial Board member Eveline Volcke (Ghent University, Belgium).

We’d like to invite you to attend a free live webinar with the Guest Editors, to hear them speak about the scope of this issue and answer your questions about where your research might fit into this topic.

Our Editor-in-Chief, Paige Novak, tells you more below:

“We always strive to make the publishing process clear, equitable, and transparent, and our themed issues are no exception. We are particularly excited about our themed issue on Data-intensive water systems management and operation, which is currently open for submissions, but realize that although this topic is of great interest for many of you, the topic can be confusing. To address this, on July 28th 2021 at 10am ET/3pm BST, we will hold a brief webinar that we invite you to attend (or watch the recorded version) in which our Guest Editors, Kris Villez, Branko Kerkez, and Eveline Volcke, will hold a panel discussion to introduce the theme of the issue, describe the types of papers that they are looking for, and generally help researchers submit their best and most exciting work to this themed issue. We invite you to attend or watch the recorded version and think about how your work can fit into this issue and check back in early 2022 to read what promises to be a very exciting collection of papers.”

 

Click here to register to attend this webinar

Can’t attend? Click here to access the recording after the event

Click here to submit your question in advance

 

 

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New Advisory Board Member: Joel Ducoste

We are delighted to announce that Joel Ducoste (North Carolina State University) has joined the Environmental Science: Water Research & Technology Advisory Board.

Dr. Joel Ducoste is a Professor in the Civil, Construction, and Environmental Engineering Department at North Carolina State University (NCSU) and Interim Associate Dean for Faculty Advancement.  He holds a B.S. (1988) and M.Eng. (1989) in Mechanical Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and a Ph.D. in Environmental Engineering (1996) from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Dr. Ducoste is a board certified environmental engineering member with the American Academy of Environmental Engineers and Scientists and is a recognized expert in modeling water and wastewater treatment processes using Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD).

His current research interests include physico-chemical processes in water treatment, computational fluid dynamics modeling, water/wastewater process optimization, wastewater sewer collection system sustainability, renewable energy, plant biosystems engineering, and solid waste process modeling.

He is a respected researcher and productive scholar with over 85 peer reviewed journal publications and another 90 peer reviewed conference proceedings and research reports. Dr. Ducoste has received a number of awards including: an NSF Career Award, a Fulbright fellowship, Visiting Professorships at Ghent University, South East University, and Yangzhou University, NC State mentoring awards, and most recently, elected Fellow of the Water Environment Federation. He has served on EPA Science Advisory Boards and 2020-2021 President of the Association of the Environmental Engineering and Science Professors. Dr. Ducoste also spent 5 years in industry at CH2M Hill as a senior process engineer and as an advance-manufacturing engineer at GE Aircraft Engines.

 

 

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Themed Issue Open for Submissions: Data-intensive water systems management and Operation

Environmental Science: Water Research & Technology seeks your high-impact research for our upcoming Themed Issue on Data-intensive water systems management and Operation

Guest Edited by Branko Kerkez (University of Michigan, USA), Kris Villez (Oak Ridge National Laboratory, USA) and Eveline Volcke (Ghent University, Belgium)
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The water sector increasingly looks at intensified instrumentation, data collection and automation as tools for daily use. Still, a massive opportunity remains in fully embracing emerging methods and technologies such as artificial intelligence, data analytics, machine learning, low-cost sensor hardware, and edge and cloud computing. Indeed, sensing and automation technology has already infiltrated many facets of society today. As such, the time is ripe to evaluate the role of novel technologies for systems monitoring, diagnostics, and automation of aquatic processes and large-scale water systems. When leveraged, the water sector will do more with less.

In this special issue we seek to publish articles that report a significant advance in the theory, understanding, practice or application of emerging techniques and
technologies, including:

  • Instrumentation, including state-of-the-art sensors and novel sensor concepts
  • Data analytics and machine learning
  • Low-cost and energy-efficient hardware for computation, and automation
  • Advances in decision support systems
  • Real-time monitoring and control
  • Autonomy & Automation
  • Privacy and cybersecurity
  • Integration of data-intensive techniques, such as scale, model-based tools for
    real-time operation and management

The reported studies should be rooted in applications across aquatic science and engineering, including but not limited to:

  • Chemical and microbial contaminants
  • Water distribution and wastewater collection
  • Stormwater infrastructure, green and gray
  • Potable reuse
  • Residue management
  • Watersheds

All submitted manuscripts will undergo initial assessment and peer review as per the usual standards of the journal. Please quote “EWData21” in the “Comments to the Editor” section during the submission process.

Click here to find out more

Submissions due: 10th September 2021

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

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