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Joseph A. Gardella Jr.

SUNY Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Chemistry
University at Buffalo College of Arts and Sciences


Industrial pollution; hazardous waste; microbeads; surface chemistry of plastics; controlled release of pharmaceuticals; wound healing; tissue engineering; STEM education

Headshot of Joseph Gardella Jr., industrial pollution and plastics expert.

Joseph A. Gardella Jr. has spent decades researching the environmental impact of industrial pollutants on local communities. He works at the intersection of analytical chemistry and geographic information analysis, and has devoted much of his career to public service.

Gardella’s experience includes numerous studies in Western New York, where he and his colleagues and students have partnered with local residents to investigate environmental contamination in a number of communities.

His scientific work in this area includes projects such as mapping soil pollution in South Buffalo’s Hickory Woods subdivision, identifying hot spots of lead contamination near a Superfund site on Buffalo’s East Side, and helping citizen scientists test air in Buffalo’s Seneca-Babcock neighborhood (test results came back clean). Gardella is also leading the Tonawanda Coke Soil Study, which investigates how pollution from the Tonawanda Coke Corp. plant has impacted soil in surrounding communities.

In 2012, Gardella co-authored a study that provided a comprehensive look at hazardous waste sites in Western New York. The research, a partnership between scientists and local community organizations, identified potential chemical hazards ranging from lead to radioactive waste in rural and urban areas.

In 2016, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) named Gardella as one of 28 recipients of the Environmental Champion Award in New York State. The award recognized Gardella’s years of work in ensuring that the local community’s voice was heard as the federal government decided what to do with nearly 200,000 cubic yards of radioactive waste stored in Lewiston, New York.

Also in 2016, Gardella was named as an appointee to the U.S. EPA’s Science Advisory Board, which advises the EPA on scientific and technical information and provides advice on issues requested by the EPA administrator. He was reappointed to a second term in 2019.

In 2005, Gardella was recognized with a Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring by the White House and National Science Foundation (NSF).

In addition to his work as a researcher, Gardella is director of the Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering Partnership (ISEP), an over $12 million NSF-funded initiative to improve science education in a number of Buffalo Public Schools. ISEP engages dozens of middle and high school teachers each year in research-based professional development that encourages them to enliven their classrooms with experiments and other hands-on activities.

As an expert in surface chemistry, Gardella also investigates topics relevant to the development of new materials for coatings, drug delivery and controlled release for wound healing.

Joseph A. Gardella Jr., PhD
SUNY Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Chemistry
University at Buffalo College of Arts and Sciences