Collaborative Research: Gaining a molecular level understanding of the sorption of model organic molecules to engineered soil surrogates

Project: Research project

Project Details


The funding of this project by the Environmental Chemical Sciences program in the Division of Chemistry will enable Professors Robert Cook and David Spivak of Louisiana State University (LSU) and Karl Mueller of Pennsylvania State University (PSU) to introduce a postdoctoral fellow, graduate students, and undergraduate students to interdisciplinary research involving organic, analytical, and environmental chemistry. Recruitment will focus on students from underrepresented groups who will be introduced to the complexity of environmental chemical issues. In his graduate-level polymer synthesis class, Professor Spivak will show how emerging methods of polymer synthesis can be used to mimic some of nature's complexity and can aid environmental chemistry. Professors Cook (LSU) and Mueller (PSU), both of whom teach senior-level environmental chemistry courses, will incorporate findings and approaches developed in this award to illustrate how fundamental chemical interactions apply to environmental systems and how they play a role in the determination of the fate and transport of anthropogenic chemicals in the environment.

This project is aimed at a molecular level understanding of how pesticides interact with soils by studying the uptake of model pesticide molecules by engineered soil surrogates (ESS). Surrogates will be synthesized by functionalizing known mineral surfaces with organic moieties of varying composition and polarity, echoing those found in real soil. Similarly, incorporating fluorinated pesticides of varied polarities and chemical compositions, in concert with a range of NMR methods, will enable molecular level characterization of the interactions. The NMR experiments will be guided and complemented by batch sorption studies, which will report the corresponding macroscopic behavior. Broader impacts of this work include improvement of fate and transport modeling, better practices for pesticide use and design, and an increased understanding of non-covalent interactions. These detailed studies will provide molecular level insights into how pollutants interact and associate with soils.

Effective start/end date11/15/1410/31/18


  • National Science Foundation: $250,000.00


Explore the research topics touched on by this project. These labels are generated based on the underlying awards/grants. Together they form a unique fingerprint.