CEE Seminar (ZOOM): Analytical Methods to Evaluate Nanomaterials for Water Treatment and Agricultural Applications

ZOOM Link will be distributed by the CEE Department
Stacey Louie, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor
Civil and Environmental Engineering Department
University of Houston

Abstract: Nanomaterials have broad applications across a variety of disciplines, including environmental engineering, agriculture and biomedicine. In general, the surface interactions and uptake or release of compounds by a nanoparticle are critical to its desired performance. These interactions and their kinetics can be challenging to measure and predict when the nanoparticle is exposed to complex media and when characterization tools are not readily available to directly probe the nanoparticle surface or matrix. This seminar presents an overview of research tackling these challenges, ranging from photocatalytic nanoparticles for water treatment to polymeric nanoparticles for agrochemical delivery. Particular emphasis is placed on the development and application of suites of advanced analytical methods [including asymmetric flow field – flow fractionation (AF4) and in situ attenuated total reflectance – Fourier transform infrared (ATR-FTIR) spectroscopy] to monitor sorption and release processes. These methods enable real-time and size-resolved measurement of the adsorbed layer composition and loading directly on the nanoparticles, surpassing the level of characterization achievable from conventional assays. These measurements are applied to achieve mechanistic insights into key behaviors of the nanomaterials, including sorption, release and reactivity, that are critical for their effective environmental applications. Finally, broader applications to emerging environmental topics, such as nanoplastics in the environment, will be discussed.

Bio: Stacey Louie is an assistant professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Houston. Her research covers the environmental implications and applications of nanomaterials. She received her Ph.D. from Carnegie Mellon University in 2014 and conducted a U.S. National Research Council (NRC) postdoctoral fellowship at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) – Gaithersburg from 2014 to 2016. She has also served as the highlights editor for Environmental Science: Nano journal from 2015 to 2016 and was honored as an emerging investigator for the journal in 2019.