Focus Area: Enviromental Engineering

The research focus regarding the Environmental Engineering initiative of VCASE relates to understanding and treating sources of contamination (i.e. pathogens, excess nutrients and metals) that result from the built environment. The overall goal of this initiative is to provide the knowledge and mechanisms required for contaminant abatement as it pertains to sustainable development.


Environmental Microbiology and Biotechnology (EMB) Laboratory

Research in the applied microbiology area as it relates to environmental engineering is conducted in the Environmental Microbiology and Biotechnology Laboratory. Specific interests are public health microbiology and biological processes. Recently, the laboratory established a strong infrastructure to incorporate several molecular biology tools; such as, CR, FAME, and gel electrophoresis into its research projects, particularly in the microbial source tracking and the microbial community structure and function analysis areas.

Environmental Chemistry Laboratory (ECL)

Located in CEER Room 308, the Environmental Chemistry Laboratory is dedicated to research and teaching in the area of Environmental Chemistry and Technology Development. Ongoing research is focused on remediation of recalcitrant contaminants and pathogens in drinking water and wastewater by the development of novel electrochemical and catalytic technologies. A primary focus of the research is to develop these technologies in a sustainable manner to help facilitate water reuse and reduce fossil fuel usage. Research is also underway in quantifying and removing trace contaminants (e.g., disinfection byproducts, hormones, pharmaceuticals, and personal care products) in natural waters.

Analytical Laboratory

Analytical Laboratory is typically used for research related to all areas of environmental engineering where complex and highly sensitive analytical techniques and instrument are required. The equipment inventory in the Analytical Laboratory includes: one Agilent gas chromatograph with mass spectrophotometer detector (GC/MS) with ion and electron ionization capabilities; 2 Agilent 6890 gas chromatographs with flame ionization, thermal conductivity, and electron capture detectors; one Dionex DX-600 IC/HPLC with electrochemical, photodiode array, and quadruple mass spectrophotometer detectors; Pectronic Genesys 5 variable wavelength scanning UV/Vis spectrophotometer.

Core Genomics Laboratory

National Science Foundation sponsored Core Genomics Laboratory for Teaching and Research in Biotechnology houses state-of-the-art genomics instrumentation including an Applied Biosystems 7300 TF real-time PCR system for q-PCR work; a Smidzu BioSpec-mini UV-Vis spectrophotometer and a NanodropTM optimized for rapid quantification of RNA, DNA, and proteins; two Lieca epifluorescent microscope equipped with high speed and cooled camera and image analysis software; an Eppendorf 5417R refrigerated high-speed mini centrifuge; a Milli-Q Biocell water purification system that supplies RNAase free water; a Beckman-Coulter Vi-CELL™ cell viability analyzer; a Shimadzu HPLC with UV-Vis detector; a sonicator for cell lysis; an ultra freezer (-85 oC); a basic freezer (-20 oC); and a crushed ice maker.

The Water Resources Teaching and Research Laboratory (WRTRL)

WRTRL houses analytical equipment for analysis of metals and nutrients. Equipment includes an Easy Chem Plus Auto Analyzer, a PE AAnalyst 800 Furnace and Flame Atomic Absorption Spectrometer, a HACH DR/4000 Spectrophotometer as well as general equipment for water quality analysis such as pH meters, dissolved oxygen meters, chemical hoods, balances, and ovens.

External/ Internal Relationships

Research projects in the environmental engineering focus area have been sponsored by industry (Organica Inc., American Refining and Biochemical, Brown and Caldwell), local (Philadelphia Water Department), state (PA Department of Environmental Protection, Ben Franklin Technology Partners), and federal government agencies (EPA, NSF, US Geological Survey). In addition, the group have collaborated with local non-profit organizations, such as Chester, Ridley, Crum (CRC) Watershed Association to address local environmental challenges.

Current Grants

  1. Developing anti-fouling electrochemical membranes for water treatment. The NSF’s Chemical and Biological Separations program awarded a major grant to support work by Dr. Chaplin and Dr. Duran.
  2. SBIR Phase II: Low-cost Long-life Diamond Electrodes for Wastewater Treatment using Advanced Electrochemical Oxidation. 2011-2013. Brian Chaplin (PI). Funding Source: Advanced Diamond Technologies. Subcontract from National Science Foundation-SBIR, IIP-1058505.
  3. A novel, high temperature anaerobic digestion process for renewable energy from biosolids, animal manure, and cellulosic biomass. 2010-2011. Metin Duran (PI). Funding Source: American Refining and Biochemical.
  4. Long-Term Performance of a Cluster of Mature Infiltration BMPs in Removal of Contaminants from the Subsurface Environment. 2010-2012. John Komlos (PI), R. Traver (Co-PI), and Shirley Clark (Co-PI). Funding Source: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Representative Publications

Chaplin, B.P., Hubler, D., Farrell, J. (2013) Understanding Anodic Wear at Boron Doped Diamond Film Electrodes. Electrochimica Acta, 89, 122-131. [pdf]

Chaplin, B.P., Reinhard, M., Schneider, W.F., Schuth, C., Shapley, J.R., Strathmann, T.J., Werth, C.J. (2012). Critical Review of Pd-based Catalytic Treatment of Priority Contaminants in Water. Environmental Science and Technology, 46(7), 3655-3670. [pdf]

Azizi, O., Hubler, D., Schrader, G., Farrell, J., Chaplin, B.P. (2011). Mechanism of Perchlorate Formation on Boron-doped Diamond Anodes. Environmental Science and Technology, 45(24), 10582-10590. [pdf]

Chaplin, B.P., Wylie, I., Zheng, H., Carlisle, J.A., Farrell J. (2011). Characterization of the Performance and Failure Mechanisms of Boron-doped Diamond Ultrananocrystalline Diamond Electrodes. Journal of Applied Electrochemistry, 41(11), 1329-1340. [pdf]

Taskin, B., Gozen, A.G., Duran, M. (2011). “Selective quantification of viable Escherichia coli in biosolids by quantitative PCR with propidium monoazide modification.” Applied and Environmental Microbiology, 77(13):4329-4335.

Chaplin, B.P., Schrader, G., Farrell J. (2010). “Electrochemical destruction of n-nitrosodimethylamine in reverse osmosis concentrates using boron-doped diamond film electrodes.” Environmental Science and Technology, 44(11), 4264-4269.

Shuai, D., Chaplin, B.P., Shapley, J.R., Menendez, N.P., McCalman, D.C., Schneider, W.F., Werth, C.J. (2010). “Enhancement of oxyanion and diatrizoate reduction kinetics using selected azo dyes on Pd-based catalysts.” Environmental Science and Technology, 44(5), 1773-1779.

Lefkowitz, J.R., Duran, M. (2009). “Changes in antibiotic resistance patterns of Escherichia coli during domestic wastewater treatment.” Water Environment Research, 81(9):878-885.

Moon, H. S., Komlos, J., and Jaffé, P. R. (2009). "Biogenic U(IV) oxidation by dissolved oxygen and nitrate in sediment after prolonged U(VI)/Fe(III)/SO42− reduction." Journal of Contaminant Hydrology, 105(1–2), 18-27.

Komlos, J., Moon, H.S., and Jaffé, P. R.. (2008). "Effect of sulfate on the simultaneous bioreduction of Iron and Uranium." Journal of Environmental Quality, 37(6), 2058-2062. 

Dr. Duran training graduate students in the Core Genomic Lab
PhD Candidate Sevda Alanya storing her RNA samples in the ultra freezer (-80 oC)
Members of the EMB Laboratory collecting field data at the NEWPCP, wastewater treatment, plant in Philadelphia.
EMB Laboratory members at the NEWPCP sludge pumping station.
Aeration basins at the NEWPCP.
Dr. Duran and PhD candidate Sevda Alanya separating DNA from cell lysing matrix.
PhD candidate Sevda Alanya and senior Lauren Glose quantifying DNA in their samples.
Coliform growth plates as part of the junior level Environmental Engineering Laboratory course.
Isolation of E. coli for the Goose Creek microbial source tracking project.


Metin Duran, Ph.D. - Lead

John Komlos, Ph.D. - Alt Lead