Atmospheric and Environmental Chemistry
The expertise of the faculty in environmental division spans a broad range of environmentally relevant chemical, analytical and modeling capabilities seldom found at a single location. Researchers at the Department of Chemistry work in different environmental fields while advancing science in a synergistic fashion and state-of-the-art instrumentation is applied to study various environmental issues. One major focus of our research is to enhance fundamental understanding of processes in different regimes of the atmosphere including gas phase, aerosol particle surfaces, and polar stratospheric clouds. Atmospheric Science faculty use observational data from routine observations, remote sensing and field to study global modes of variability, contaminant transport and air quality, and many other chemical and dynamical processes.
Our research further extends to understand ocean-atmosphere interactions, implications of engineered nanomaterials, mechanisms underlying chemical fate, transport and transformation, and molecular mechanisms of toxicity and adaptation. Another focus is the transport and fate and toxicology of man-made organic chemicals, pesticides and pharmaceuticals, and heavy metals in the environment. Strong connections are maintained with the Department of Earth and Environmental Science, Bureau of Geology, Civil and Environmental Engineering at New Mexico Tech and Los Alamos National Laboratory for Climate Studies enabling a broad and deep graduate program in atmospheric science.
Accurate and rapid detection of pathogens in contaminated water and food samples is necessary to prevent spread of certain infectious diseases. Dr. Piyasena and his research group explore developing miniaturized bioassay systems utilizing microfluidics and surface modification techniques for pathogen detection and environmental monitoring.
Professor Rubasinghege and his group is centered on discovering hidden reaction pathways on complex environmental surfaces including components of mineral dust, sea ice, urban snow, and polar stratospheric clouds. His team deals with heterogeneous chemistry and photochemistry of these processes in search of molecular level insights that are essential to reveal global processes - climate, biogeochemistry and environmental toxicology, implications of nanotechnology on environment, and find remediation to environmental issues.