Lake Mendota, Madison, Wisconsin


Dr. Remucal’s Aquatic Chemistry research group works in two major areas. First, we investigate the transformation of polar organic contaminants in both natural and engineering aquatic systems. We are interested in photochemical reaction mechanisms, oxidative transformation at mineral surfaces, and fate in conventional and advanced drinking water treatment systems. Second, we study the molecular composition and reactivity of dissolved organic matter (DOM). We couple optical properties and analysis by high resolution mass spectrometry to assess the reactivity of DOM in lakes and engineered treatment systems. By studying fundamental reaction mechanisms, our group aims to develop models and real-world applications that can be used to improve water quality.

Current Projects

Our group is currently studying the environmental fate aquatic pesticides. The lampricides, 3-trifluoromethyl-4-nitrophenol (TFM) and 5-chlor-N-(2 chloro-4-nitrophenyl)-2-hydroxibenzamide (niclosamide) are routinely applied to tributaries of the Great Lakes in order to combat the invasive sea lamprey. We are investigating the fate of these compounds incollaboration with Adam Ward. Similarly, we are studying the role of photo- and biodegradation in controlling the lifetime of pesticides, such as 2,4-D, in lakes in Wisconsin in collaboration with Trina McMahon. These compounds are used to control invasive Eurasian watermilfoil.

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a group of persistent, anthropogenic chemicals that have been used in industrial applications and consumer products since the 1950s. We are investigating the concentrations and partitioning of PFAS in surface waters of Wisconsin, including near Marinette and in Lake Michigan.

The molecular composition of dissolved organic matter (DOM) determines its reactivity. We are combining simple spectroscopic techniques with ultrahigh-resolution mass spectrometry to investigate the role of DOM composition in its photochemical reactivity, as well as its ability to form novel and conventional disinfection by-products during drinking water treatment.

We are investigating new methods to remove polar organic contaminants, such as pharmaceuticals and pesticides, from water. These methods include advanced oxidation processes (e.g., chlorine photolysis) and transformation of phenolic chemicals by manganese oxides. The Mn oxide project is a collaboration with Matt Ginder-Vogel.

Our research is supported by the National Science Foundation, the Great Lakes Fishery Commission, Wisconsin Sea Grant, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, U.S. Geological Survey, Wisconsin Groundwater Coordinating Council, and the University of Wisconsin Graduate School.