Graduate Students

  • John Michael (JM) Aguilar

    JM Aguilar.

    JM earned his bachelor's degree in Chemistry from the University of the Philippines where his undergraduate thesis aimed to measure heavy metals in blood using electroanalytical techniques. He then worked as a research assistant in the same university where his research works involved water quality monitoring in eutrophic waters, ocean acidification, and blue carbon. In ALERT, JM will be working with Dr. Aga and Dr. Elizabeth Thomas in the Department of Geology to determine lipid biomarkers (GDGTs and sterols) in ice-basal sediment samples for geologic reconstruction applications in the Greenland Ice Sheet (GrIS). 


  • Jonathan Antle

    Jonathan Antle.

    Jon is from Allegany, NY and received his Bachelor’s of Science in Chemistry with a minor in mathematics from St. Bonaventure University. As an undergraduate Jon worked with Dr. Scott Simpson on computational and physical chemistry research. A few of the main projects were modeling basic organic chemistry reactions, determining the virial equation of state for modeling air, and modeling liquid chromatography to predicted molecule retention times. In ALERT Jon will continue his work on modeling liquid chromatography as well as mass spectrometry to identify molecules in nontarget analysis. He will also work analyzing samples from projects with the aim degrade PFAS and determine the degradation products. 


  • Damalka Balasuriya

    Damalka Balasuriya.

    Damalka is from Negombo, Sri Lanka, and received her Bachelor’s of Science in Environmental Science from the University of Peradeniya in 2020. As an undergraduate, she researched the development of metal-nanomaterial-impregnated adsorbents to remove elevated levels of fluoride and water-hardness in groundwater. In ALERT, her research focuses on developing a particle to preconcentrate PFAS and other organic polar contaminants using dispersive solid phase extraction and analyzing water samples for antimicrobials, utilizing liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) techniques. In her free time, she enjoys listening to music, reading books, and enjoying nature.


  • Dino Camdzic

    Dino is from Bosnia and earned his Bachelor's of Science in Chemistry, Biochemistry, and Biology from the University of Texas at Arlington. As an undergraduate, he worked with Dr. Macaluso with inorganic complexes and with Dr. Schug on a myriad of projects, including proteins, friction reducers, phthalates, and surfactants using GC-MS/MS, GC-VUV, MALDI-TOF-MS and LC-MS/MS. In ALERT, his research focuses have been on the analysis of PFAS in water samples, as well as characterizing legacy and emerging PFAS alternatives. His work includes the analysis of wastewater effluent and surface waters using LC-MS/MS, LC-HRMS, GC-MS/MS, and 19F-NMR.


  • Dulan Edirisinghe

    Dulan Edirisinghe.

    Dulan is from Gampaha, Sri Lanka and received his Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Science from University of Peradeniya in 2020. For his undergraduate thesis, he worked to understand the impacts of a high-grade phosphorite deposit in Eppawala, Sri Lanka on the water quality of surrounding aquifers. Then he joined National Institute of Fundamental Studies, Sri Lanka as a trainee research assistant and assisted in a project on developing a baseline soil information system for soil carbon and other nutrients for paddy growing soils in Sri Lanka. At University at Buffalo, Dulan is co-advised by Dr. Luis Colon and Dr. Diana Aga. His current project involves developing superficially porous organo-inorganic hybrid silica particles as a separation medium for analysis of organic pollutants in the environment and developing new analytical methods for the quantification of novel psychoactive compounds in various matrices. He spends his free time cleaning his aquariums and playing Skyrim.


  • Zacheriah Gernold

    Zach is from Springville, NY and received his Bachelor’s of Science in Chemistry from Niagara University. In his undergraduate, Zach did research under Dr. Robyn Goacher on wood polymer composite weathering. After completing his B.S., Zach got a job at FMC working as a lab technician, and then as an analyst. His work included analyzing production samples using gas chromatography coupled to flame ionization detector as well as mass spectrometry (GC-FID and GC-MS) and liquid chromatography vacuum ultraviolet spectroscopy (LC-VUV). Zach is now part of ALERT, working on several projects, including metal analysis in environmental samples using ICP-MS, and the analysis of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances using liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS). His many hobbies include photography, wood working, and D&D.


  • Lahiruni Halwatura


    Lahiruni is from Kandy, Sri Lanka, and received her Bachelor's of Science from the University of Sri Jayewardenepura in 2018. During her time in Sri Lanka, she worked as a volunteer research assistant in environmental analytical chemistry as well as in nano-chemical fields. In ALERT, she is currently focusing on developing complementary pharmaceutical-based community disease prediction techniques via wastewater-based epidemiology (WBE). With the focus of liquid chromatography coupled with mass spectrometry (LC-MS) and high-resolution mass spectrometry (HRMS) techniques she is also working on determination of the community consumption of new psychoactive substances using WBE. Previously, she also worked on the utility of in silico models to predict compound identification for non-target analysis. In her spare time, she enjoys listening to music, enjoying the environment, and exploring new food.


  • Karla Rios Bonilla

    Karla Rios.

    Karla Ríos Bonilla is from Villalba, Puerto Rico and received her Bachelor’s of Science in Industrial Chemistry from the University of Puerto Rico at Humacao. During her undergrad, Karla worked in the pharma industries specializing in method and development for new pharmaceuticals for infectious diseases.  She is co-advised by Dr. Luis A. Colón. In ALERT, her research focuses on comparing  different analysis for PFAS, Fluorotelomer olefins and alcohols mostly between LC-MS/MS and SFC-MS/MS. In her spare time, she likes to explore new places and spend time with her dog Mía. 


  • Logan Running

    Logan is from Philadelphia, NY and received his Bachelor’s of Science in Biochemistry from Potsdam College. Logan was directed to analytical chemistry by his undergraduate advisor, Dr. Maria Hepel. His undergraduate research involved the use of gold nanoparticles for the transport of anti-cancer drugs. Once at the University at Buffalo, Logan choose to have dual advisors, working with both Dr. Diana Aga and Dr. Ekin Atilla-Gockumen. His current research involves the biological effects of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) using various techniques, including chemical derivatization and analysis with liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS). In his free time, Logan enjoys biking, running, and playing Pokemon Go.


  • Mindula Wijayahena


    Mindula is from Kandy, Sri Lanka, and received her Bachelor’s of Science in Chemistry from University of Sri Jayewardenepura in 2019. As an undergraduate, she worked in the analytical field with the use of SPME-GC/MS. In ALERT, her research focuses is in developing a technique to analyze different type of metals in blood samples which are in special absorbing papers including metal extraction and analysis with ICP-MS.