delware environmental institute

Biogeochemistry Faculty

Wei-Jun Cai Wei-Jun Cai, Mary A. S. Lighthipe Chair and Professor, Oceanography, UD

Wei-Jun Cai’s most recent research focuses on the responses of the coastal ocean carbon cycle and ecosystem to changing terrestrial export of carbon and nutrients, as well as bottom-water acidification in estuaries and coastal oceans. He has worked on marine carbon cycling for 20 years. Other research interests include CaCO3 dissolution and sediment diagenesis in the deep sea using microelectrodes (O2, pH, and pCO2), and air-sea exchange of CO2

Website
Clara Chan Clara Chan, Associate Professor, Geological Sciences, UD

Clara Chan studies geomicrobiology--how microorganisms affect environmental chemistry and how chemistry selects for and influences the evolution of life. Her lab’s research focuses on microbe-mineral interactions in streams, soils, aquifers, caves, and deep sea hydrothermal vents using multidisciplinary techniques in geochemical field characterization and sampling, molecular biology, biochemistry, microbiology, microscopy, and spectroscopy. In 2012 Chan received a prestigious Faculty Early Career Development Award from the National Science Foundation to expand her research. 

Website
Pei Chiu Pei Chiu, Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering, UD

Pei Chiu’s research areas include the fate of contaminants in natural and engineered systems, application of biochar and zero-valent iron to stormwater and drinking water treatment, and environmental redox processes catalyzed by black carbon. He received a Faculty Early Career Development Award from the National Science Foundation in 2000, and an excellence in teaching award from the College of Engineering in 2003.

Website
Thomas E. Hanson Thomas E. Hanson, Professor, Marine Biosciences, UD

Tom Hanson is a microbiologist interested in developing a better understanding of microbial physiology: how microbes harvest energy and materials from their environment to reproduce. In the course of acquiring energy and materials, microbes catalyze many chemical transformations, and since microbes are among the most abundant forms of biomass on the planet, these chemical transformations have global significance.  Thus, microbial physiology is intimately tied to biogeochemistry. Microbes of interest include methanotrophic bacteria that consume the flammable greenhouse gas methane and filamentous cyanobacteria that harvest light and use the energy to fix CO2 into biomass plus converting N2 to NH3 all while producing O2.  More recently, I have focused on microbes that interact with group VIa elements: primarily S, but also Se, Te, and Po.  The Hanson lab currently focuses on anaerobic phototrophic bacteria and how they extract electrons from reduced forms of sulfur: HS-, S2O32-, and S(0). Hanson's research uses a wide variety of techniques including both molecular and classical microbiology, various "-omics", bioinformatics, and analytical chemistry.

Website
Chin-Pao Huang Chin-Pao Huang, Donald C. Phillips Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering

Chin-Pao Huang’s research specialties are aquatic chemistry and  sustainable engineering, with a focus on water quality and its control. He studies adsorption at mineral surfaces, advanced oxidation processes, and photocatalysis. Recently, Huang also explores the environmental applications and implications of nanotechnology. He served as chair of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering from 1996 to 2001. He won the Graduate Advising and Mentoring Award in 2008 and was awarded the Francis Alison Faculty Award in 2009 from the university. Huang was also a recipient of the Gordon Maskew Fair Medal from the Water Environment Federation in 1999 and the Gordon Maskew Fair Award from the America Academy of Environmental Engineers and Scientists in 2012.

Website
Paul T. Imhoff Paul T. Imhoff, Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering, UD

Paul Imhoff's research focuses broadly on the transport of fluids and contaminants in multiphase systems; mass transfer processes in soil and groundwater; sustainable landfilling; and mathematical modeling. He is a professional engineer. He received a Faculty Early Career Development Award from the National Science Foundation in 2000. He has been with the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering since 1997. 

Website
Deb Jaisi Deb Jaisi, Assistant Professor, Plant and Soil Sciences, UD

Deb Jaisi conducts research on the biogeochemical processes that regulate the sources and cycling of phosphorus in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. He also examines redox-controlled and coupled biogeochemical cycling of iron and phosphorus, and mineralization at chemical and biological interfaces. His research applies a variety of tools, including isotope ratio mass spectrometry, solid- and liquid-state 31P nuclear magnetic resonance, and synchrotron-based x-ray absorption spectroscopy. Jaisi's research is funded by USDA, NSF EPSCoR, the American Chemical Society Petroleum Research Fund, and the Delaware-Maryland-Pennsylvania Soybean Boards.

Website
Yan Jin Yan Jin, Professor, Plant and Soil Sciences

Yan Jin's research interests are in measurement, modeling, and interpretation of mass transport and transformation in soil and other environmental systems. Her current research interests include (1) colloid (natural colloids, nanoparticles and microorganisms) retention and transport in saturated and unsaturated soils; (2) colloid mobilization and its relation to biogeochemical cycling of organic carbon in redox-active environments (e.g., wetlands); (3) fate and bioavailability of colloidal phosphorous released from agricultural sources in watersheds; (4) effects of physicochemical properties and hydrological processes on microbial contamination of fresh produce; and (5) biophysics of the rhizosphere. Dr. Jin is a fellow of the Soil Science Society of America and recipient of Don & Betty Kirkham Soil Physics award.

Website
Murray V. Johnston, III Murray V. Johnston, III, Professor, Chemistry and Biochemistry

Murray Johnston's research group uses mass spectrometry to characterize microscopic and nanoscopic matter. The group's research focuses on problems of atmospheric, environmental, and biological significance. Current projects include instrument design and development, laboratory investigations of multiphase chemical processes, and field measurements of airborne particles to assess health and environmental impacts. He came to the University of Delaware in 1990.

Website
David L. Kirchman David L. Kirchman, Maxwell P. and Mildred H. Harrington Professor of Marine Biosciences

David Kirchman's current research interests include microbial oceanography and microbial ecology; understanding links between function and structure in the carbon cycle; and the role of photoheterotrophic bacteria in the carbon cycle. He earned the Francis Alison Faculty Award in 2010, the University of Delaware’s highest faculty honor for excellence in both research and teaching. 

Website
George Luther George Luther, Maxwell P. and Mildred H. Harrington Professor of Oceanography

George Luther's research focuses on redox reactions in the environment; trace element speciation in marine waters and sediments, including metal-ligand complexes; biogeochemical processes in marine environments; application of molecular orbital theory to geochemical processes; and in situ electrochemistry and microelectrode technology. His research interfaces chemistry with biology, with the view that chemistry drives biology. Luther is a fellow of the Geochemical Society, the American Geophysical Union, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. In 2004, he received the Geochemical Society’s Clair C. Patterson Award for outstanding contributions to environmental geochemistry, and in 2013, he was selected the American Chemical Society Geochemistry Division Medalist. In 2006 he received the Francis Alison Faculty Award, the University of Delaware’s highest faculty honor for excellence in both research and teaching.

Website
Julia Maresca Julia Maresca, Assistant Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering, UD

Julia Maresca uses high-throughput sequencing, bacterial genetics, and physiology to examine microbial responses to environmental inputs. Current projects include characterization of actinorhodopsins; phosphate acquisition in an oligotrophic,ferruginous tropical lake; and preliminary analysis of the microbial communities in oil sands waste. She was an ExCEED Teaching Fellow with the American Society for Civil Engineers in 2011. She holds joint appointments in the Department of Biology and the School of Marine Science and Policy.

Website
Holly Michael Holly Michael, Unidel Fraser Russell Chair for the Environment and Associate Professor, Geological Sciences, UD

Holly Michael studies coastal groundwater dynamics; land-sea water and chemical fluxes; effects of climate change on groundwater resources; water supply sustainability in developing countries; and geostatistical modeling of subsurface heterogeneity. She has explored groundwater pumping strategies to lower the risk of arsenic in drinking water in heavily populated areas of southern Asia. Her research has been published in Nature and Science, among other journals, attracting the attention of national news media. In 2010 she received the Oak Ridge Associated Universities Ralph E. Powe Junior Faculty Award (2010). In 2012, Dr. Michael was the recipient of a highly competitive National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Development Award. 

Website
Angelia Seyfferth Angelia Seyfferth, Assistant Professor, Plant and Soil Sciences, UD

Angelia Seyfferth’s research lies at the intersection of soil biogeochemistry and plant physiology, with an overarching goal of improving ecosystem and human heath. Current studies focus on understanding the processes occurring at the soil-plant interface that control trace-level uptake of contaminants and nutrient cycling by edible plants. Specifically, she is examining rhizosphere processes influencing arsenic uptake by rice.Seyfferth joined the university in 2012 after her work as a National Science Foundation postdoctoral fellow at Stanford University. In 2014, Dr. Seyfferth received a highly competitive National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Development Award to expand her research.

Website
Donald L. Sparks Donald L. Sparks, S. Hallock du Pont Chair of Soil and Environmental Chemistry and DENIN Director

Donald Sparks holds joint faculty appointments in civil and environmental engineering, chemistry and biochemistry, and the College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment. He is internationally recognized for his research on the kinetics and mechanisms of metal/oxyanion/nutrient reactions at biogeochemical interfaces. This research has led to more effective soil remediation strategies and predictive models. He is the author, co-author, or editor of more than 300 publications and the author of three textbooks in environmental soil chemistry and kinetics of geochemical processes. Sparks is the recipient of numerous awards and honors, including being a Fellow of five professional societies, a recipient of UD's Francis Alison Faculty Award, the Geochemistry Medal from the American Chemical Society, and the Pioneer in Clay Science Award from the Clay Minerals Society. Sparks has served as president of the Soil Science Society of America and the International Union of Soil Sciences.

Website
Neil C. Sturchio Neil C. Sturchio, Professor and Chair, Geological Sciences

Neil Sturchio's research activities include basic and applied geochemical and isotopic studies in the laboratory and the field, over a wide range of scales from atomic to continental. Current studies include development of applications of noble gas radionuclides as tracers of groundwater and natural gases; investigations of perchlorate isotopic compositions in the environment; synchrotron radiation studies of mineral-fluid interfacial processes; investigations of the soil carbon cycle using natural and fallout radionuclide profiles; sedimentation rate determinations for EPA's Great Lakes Sediment Surveillance Program; isotope effects of RDX biodegradation by various microbial strains; and a watershed model for nitrate in the Upper Illinois River watershed. He came to UD in 2014 from the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Website
William J. Ullman William J. Ullman, Professor, Oceanography, UD

William Ullman’s research interests lie in oceanography of shallow estuaries and lagoons; biogeochemistry of the coastal zone; land use and nutrient export from watersheds; groundwater discharge to the coastal zone; groundwater-surface water exchange; estuarine nutrient inputs and cycling; early diagenesis of sediments; chemistry of sandy beach faces; rock/water interactions; and the role of bacteria and metabolic products on rock/water interactions.

Website
Rodrigo Vargas Rodrigo Vargas, Assistant Professor, Plant and Soil Sciences, UD

Rodrigo Vargas’s research focuses on how biophysical factors regulate greenhouse gas dynamics in terrestrial ecosystems to understand and quantify the response of ecosystems to management, extreme events (e.g., hurricanes, droughts, fire), and global change. His research incorporates multiple disciplines, from soil ecology to micrometeorological and data-mining techniques at multiple spatiotemporal scales. He is part of the science steering group of the North American Carbon Program and has received multiple awards, including a Fulbright Fellowship.

Website
Adam Wallace Adam Wallace, Assistant Professor, Geological Sciences, UD

Adam Wallace studies low-temperature aqueous geochemistry, environmental mineralogy, geobiology, and geochemical modeling. His research uses rare-events simulation protocols and complementary experiments to investigate the mechanisms of carbonate nucleation/growth and the influence of organic templates and living interfaces on these processes. He joined UD in 2013 after a postdoctoral fellowship at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. 

Website
Eric Wommack Eric Wommack, Professor, Plant and Soil Sciences, UD

Eric Wommack’s research seeks to understand the influence and importance of viral processes within natural ecosystems. His viral ecology research programs span the biosphere and include investigations of agricultural soils, coastal marine environments, deep-sea hydrothermal vents, and poultry production houses. He performs field measurements of microbiological processes, quantitative microscopy of viruses within field samples, and molecular genetic analysis of viral assemblages, and assesses viral diversity through high-throughput DNA sequence analysis (viral metagenomics). He is a founding co-editor of the journal Microbiome and an editor ofApplied and Environmental Microbiology

Website