We work on ways to initiate reactions between organic molecules and oxygen through the intermediacy of reactive oxygen species, a collection of highly reactive free radicals that can be generated in surface water, groundwater or soils. The goal is to convert organic contaminants to carbon dioxide, water and mineral acids.
Another strategy for environmental remediation is immobilization, which is the focus of our polymerization-in-place research. We are researching strategies to increase the fugacity of organic contaminants in the aqueous phase, ultimately reducing their solubility and immobilizing them in the soil. This research is a transformative and novel approach for in-situ chemical remediation of contaminated groundwater. We perform experiments in the laboratory to investigate how natural conditions can influence this process.
Our environmental fate research focuses on redox and photochemical processes that govern the ultimate disposition of organic molecules and materials in the ‘built’ and ‘natural’ environment. Typically we will study a contaminant or class of related contaminants to learn the mechanisms by which it naturally decompose and what decomposition products are generated. We often work with toxicologists to estimate the ecological effects of contaminant degradation.