Principal Investigator

Damian E. Helbling
Damian E. Helbling, Ph.D., P.E.

B.S., Civil Engineering, The Pennsylvania State University
M.S., Civil and Environmental Engineering, Carnegie Mellon University
Ph.D., Civil and Environmental Engineering, Carnegie Mellon University
Postdoctoral Training, Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology (Eawag)

Research Interests: I am motivated by a broad interest in water quality as it relates to aquatic ecosystem and human health.  I am interested in understanding the effects that anthropogenic activites have on water quality and developing engineered solutions to emerging water quality problems stemming from these activities.  My research revolves around application of state-of-the-art techniques from the fields of environmental analytical chemistry and environmental microbiology to address water quality issues related to (for example) population expansion, the global trend of urbanization, the water-energy-food nexus, and climate change.

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Postdoctoral Associates

Yuxin Wang, Ph.D.

B.S., Environmental Science, Sun Yat-sen University, 2010
M.S., Civil and Environmental Engineering, Carnegie Mellon University, 2011
Ph.D., Civil and Environmental Engineering, Carnegie Mellon University, 2014
 
Research Interests: I am interested in environmental risk assessment and water quality. My interest extends not only to water and wastewater treatment, but also to the fate and transport of organic chemicals, like pesticides and pharmaceuticals, in the environment. I am also interested in and have worked on issues at the food, energy, water nexus, and ways to find sustainable solutions for emerging water challenges. 
 
Other Interests: Travel, impressionist oil painting, and cooking. 

Michael Zumstein, Ph.D.

B.S., Biology, ETH Zurich, 2011
M.S., Biochemistry, ETH Zurich, 2013
Ph.D., Environmental Chemistry, ETH Zurich, 2017
 
Research Interests: I am fascinated by how microorganisms use extracellular enzymes to transform large molecules outside a cell. My PhD work helped to better understand the enzymatic hydrolysis and the microbial utilization of synthetic polymers in agricultural soils. The focus of my current research is to decipher the role of extracellular hydrolases in the transformation of micropollutants during biological wastewater treatment.
 
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Ph.D. Students

Corey Carpenter

B.S., Environmental Engineering, Syracuse University, 2014
M.S., Civil and Environmental Engineering, Cornell University, 2016
 
Thesis Title: Removal of micropollutants in biofilters: Hydrodynamic effects on biotransformation rates
 
Research Interests: I am interested in the biotransformation of trace organic contaminants (e.g., pharmaceuticals and pesticides).  Specifically, I am interested in identifying the chemical or biological determinants of micropollutant removal in engineered bioprocesses and developing optimization strategies.
 
Carpenter and Helbling Water Research 2017
Carpenter and Helbling Env. Sci. Tech. 2018

Marika Nell

B.S., Civil Engineering, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2014
 
Research Interests: I am interested in studying the environmental implications of unconventional shale gas development. In particular, my interests focus on the water quality impacts of organic chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing fluid.
 
Oetjen et al. TrEAC 2017
Nell and Helbling ESPI 2018

Yuhan Ling

B.S., Environmental Science & Engineering, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, 2014
M.S., Civil and Environmental Engineering, Cornell University, 2016
 
Thesis Title: Characterization of a novel ß-cyclodextrin polymer for the removal of organic micropollutants from aqueous solution
 
Research Interests: I am interested in studying and characterizing new methods and materials which are developed to target water quality problems. Particularly, I am interested in adsorption processes for the sequestration of trace organic contaminants. For now, I am investigating the adsorption of trace organics onto a novel polymer material by conducting experiments to determine the kinetics and thermodynamic parameters.
 
Alsbaiee et al. Nature 2016
Xiao et al. JACS 2017
Ling et al. Env.Sci.Tech. 2017

Casey Ching

B.S., Environmental Engineering, Lehigh University, 2017
 
Research Interests: I am interested in improving our understanding of the fate and transport of trace organic contaminants in natural and engineered water systems. I am interested in understanding their transformations and their potential impacts on aquatic ecosystems and human health. My research will focus on developing adsorption-based remediation processes using cyclodextrin polymers to remove per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs), a class of trace organics, from impacted groundwater. 

M.S. Students

Vicky Wu

B.S., Environmental Engineering, Chongqing University, 2017
 
Research Interests: I am interested in the removal of emerging contaminants from drinking water. I am specifically concerned about environmental and health crises caused by perfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) in communities. In my research, I study the kinetics and thermodynamics of PFAS uptake on novel cyclodextrin-based polymer adsorbents.

Undergraduate Students

Jacqueline Wong

Current Undergraduate at Cornell University
Major: Environmental Engineering 2020
 
Research Interests: I am interested in utilizing highly resolved temporal sampling to assess and analyze emerging contaminant profiles.

Anya Sherman

Current Undergraduate at Cornell University
Major: Environmental Engineering 2020
 
Research Interests: I am interested in the modeling and remediation of unregulated contaminants in soil and water.

Natasha Ramos Padilla

Current Undergraduate exchange student from the University of Puerto Rico - Mayagüez
Major: Chemistry 2019
 
Research Interests: I am interested in applying Chemistry on Environmental Engineering and water quality control problems.

Danyeh Gutema

Current Undergraduate at Cornell University
Major: Environmental Engineering 2021
 
Research Interests: I am interested in water pollution and waste water treatment as well as effects of overpopulation. 

Alumni

Chenjun Li

B.S., Environmental Science & Engineering, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, 2014
M.S., Civil and Environemtnal Engineering, Cornell University, 2017
 
Thesis Title:: Evaluating a solid-phase extraction method with novel porous cyclodextrin polymers
 
Current Position: Carollo Engineers, Inc., Houston, Texas
 
Xiao et al. JACS 2017
Li et al. JCA 2018
 

Mian Wang

B.S., Environmental Science & Engineering, Ocean University of China, 2013
M.S., Civil and Environmental Engineering, Cornell University, 2015
 
Thesis Title: Chlorination of sulfonamide antibiotics: products, proposed pathways, and putative mechanisms
 
Current Position: Santa Clara Valley Water District, San Jose, California
 
Wang and Helbling Wat. Res. 2016

Former Research Assistant

Catherine Johnson

Current Undergraduate at Cornell University
Major: Environmental Engineering 2019
 
Research Interests: I am interested in environmental monitoring for emerging contaminants.

Former Research Associate

Amy Pochodylo

B.S., Chemistry (Environmental Science), Michigan State University, 2013
M.S., Environmental Toxicology, Cornell University, 2014

Pochodylo and Helbling NYS WRI Report 2016
Pochodylo and Helbling Env. Sci.:Wat. Res. Tech. 2016

Jeffrey J. Werner, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, Chemistry Department, SUNY Cortland
 
B.S., Chemistry, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Ph.D., Water Resources Science - Environmental Chemistry, University of Minnesota-Twin Cities
Postdoctoral training, Cornell University
 
Research Interests. I'm an environmental chemist who has spent the past decade working with microbiologists, and I’m enjoying every minute of it. I pursue research questions that explore the connections between microbial communities and their environments, as well as the connections among microbes within a microbiome. Currently, this includes engineered systems for bioenergy production, and microbial communities out in nature, such as microbes growing on hops flowers, or anaerobic benthic microbial communities responding to perturbations. The tools I specialize in for addressing these kinds of questions are high-throughput molecular techniques including metagenomic sequencing and proteomics. As a professor at a primarily undergraduate institution, I’m also dedicated to making sure the research in my lab provides in-depth and meaningful research experiences for SUNY Cortland undergraduate students.  
 
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