Investigating Novel Pathways for Pesticide Transformation on Plant Surfaces

Project Summary

Research Advisor:  Ning Dai (Environmental Engineering)

Project Theme:  Pollutant Source Control

Pesticides are widely used in agricultural and urban environments, and their unmanaged release has caused serious human health and ecosystem damages. In the past, research on the fate and transport of pesticides has focused on surface water, groundwater, and soils. Despite the common application of pesticides on plant foliage, their transformation on leaf surfaces is not well understood. On leaves, pesticide molecules are exposed to sunlight and a variety of oxidants from the ambient air, such as ozone (O3), hydroxyl radical (•OH), and nitrogen oxides (NOx). The leaf cuticular wax also provides a unique non-polar reaction environment. The REU project will investigate pesticide transformation under sunlight on leaf surfaces and provide insight to pesticide formulation to minimize their environmental impacts. The REU student(s) will have the opportunity to use fundamental chemistry to solve real-world problems, learn about advanced analytical techniques, and experience interdisciplinary collaborations. 

Primary Activities:  Laboratory experiments (photolysis, preparation of simulated leaf surfaces); Instrument analysis (gas chromatography – mass spectrometry, liquid chromatography). 

Skills/Courses Recommended:  Basic skills in general chemistry laboratory; Interest in environmental application of analytical instruments

Anticipated Conference Participation:  American Chemical Society National Meeting