We strive to understand the molecular-scale perspectives of interfacial processes in natural and engineered settings, such as the interactions of minerals, microbes, metals, and nutrients at solid-liquid interfaces. By employing a wide range of microscopic and spectroscopic techniques, our highly interdisciplinary  research aims to correlate molecular, nano, and microscopic scale information with macroscopic and field scale observations. Our current research efforts are focused on the following topics:

  • Contaminant fate and transport
  • Metal and nutrient cycling
  • Microbe-mediated mineral formation and transformation
  • Resource recovery
  • Application of synchrotron techniques

Recent projects

  • Occurrences of rare earth elements in highly weathered sedimentary rocks, Georgia kaolins (NSF)
  • Understanding substrate limitation and lithium and silicon isotope fractionation during secondary clay formation in marine systems (NSF)
  • Understanding the formation of manganese oxides in low oxygen environments (NASA)
  • Redox cycling driven transformation of manganese oxide minerals (NSF)

Completed research projects

  • Elucidating arsenic and selenium speciation in coal fly ashes (DOE-NETL)
  • Characterization and recovery of critical metals from municipal solid waste incineration ashes (DOE ARPA-E)
  • An integrated, tunable, and sustainable management system for improved energy, nutrient, and water recovery from biowastes (NSF)
  • Functionalized Mesoporous Carbon Fiber Traps for Effective and Selective Recovery / Separation of Rare Earth Elements (REEs) from the Acidic Extraction of End-of-life NdFeB Magnet Scrape (DoD-SERDP)
  • Probing the impact of metal impurities on the structure, reactivity, and transformation of biogenic manganese oxides (NSF)
  • Elucidating the mechanisms of heavy metal capture in FGD slurries for enhanced evaluation of treatment processes (EPRI, Southern Company)
  • Calibrating the chromium isotope system as a tracer of atmospheric oxygenation (NASA)
  • Alternative earths: Explaining persistent inhabitation on a dynamic early earth (NASA)
  • Exploring the role of exogenous polyphosphate in the precipitation of calcium phosphate minerals in the marine environment (NSF)
  • Development and fundamental investigation of a novel low cost recycling technology for spent Li-ion batteries (NSF)
  • Assessing the wettability alteration of carbonate minerals at nano scale (ACS-PRF)
  • Phosphorus and metal speciation dynamics during thermal treatment of sewage sludges (USGS-Georgia Water Research Institute)

Funding support